CDC Guidelines for Medical Waste Disposal During COVID-19

April 21, 2021

The impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are varied and far reaching. Widespread use of coronavirus tests and vaccinations has led to an increase in COVID-19 related waste. As a result, healthcare providers are facing the burden of this additional medical waste. Clinics, hospitals, vaccination sites and long-term care facilities must dispose of personal protective equipment (PPE), syringes, and vaccine vials. In this blog, we discuss Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for medical waste disposal during COVID-19.

Requirements for Individuals

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 are required to quarantine at home. The CDC has stated that COVID-19 related waste generated by households does not require special requirements and can be handled and disposed of like influenza-related waste.

Requirements for Healthcare Providers

The CDC has determined that medical waste generated by healthcare providers in the testing, prevention or treatment of coronavirus should be treated like all other infectious waste. This means medical waste generators should continue to comply with the Department of Transportation (DOT), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), state regulations, and local health department recommendations when disposing of COVID-19 related medical waste.

PPE Disposal

Although the CDC does not classify personal protective equipment (PPE) as regulated waste or biohazardous waste, used masks, gowns, and gloves should still be placed into red medical waste bags. Patient trash such as used tissues may be disposed of in regular trash bins and handled by your municipal solid waste company unless otherwise directed by your local health department.

Sharps Disposal

Based on CDC recommendations, sharps contaminated with COVID-19 should be disposed of in single-use sharps containers. Reusable sharps containers do not need to be placed into red bags. However, due to potential increased use of sharps during the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare providers may need additional FDA-approved sharps containers to avoid overfilling and ensure secure transport.

With continued monitoring of the pandemic, the CDC may adjust or change their medical waste disposal requirements. Work with your medical waste management partner to stay abreast of any new developments.

BioWaste LLC provides comprehensive medical waste solutions to clients throughout Middle Tennessee. To learn more, please give us a call at 615-491-4929 or complete the form on this page. We look forward to hearing from you!

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