Despite some misleading news stories and press releases recently, specifically about White House staffers and close contacts of COVID positive cases, a negative test doesn’t mean you’re COVID-free! As the WH Press Secretary’s case shows, you may test negative every day after exposure until the day you test positive. If it’s within 14 days of your exposure to someone infectious, you may still be incubating the virus and should be self-isolating.
An employee tested positive at the end of June and is now presenting with similar symptoms (including loss of taste and smell). Her doctor is testing her for COVID again. What kind of exclusion should we give her?
10 days. We are working with an estimate of 90 days of effective protection from reinfection, but the science is still incomplete on who is protected and for how long. If someone had COVID over 90 days ago, any new COVID-like symptoms should be treated as a new case of COVID, unfortunately.
Can we ask for a flu test result if someone tells us they have flu but not COVID?
Yes. Flu tests are usually rapid tests done in a doctor’s office or clinic, and don’t always have as firm a paper trail as COVID test results. You can ask any healthcare provider for a doctor’s note stating the flu diagnosis and specifying a return date for work.
If they have a positive flu test, you’ll still need a negative COVID result in order to shorten their work exclusion from 10 days if they have multiple flu-like and COVID-like symptoms.
The health dept. is insisting we close for 24 hours before sanitizing after a COVID+. We’d already completed our COVID sanitizing punch list days ago when we first excluded the employee for symptoms. Is there any point in trying to negotiate with them?
Yes. Many of you have had good outcomes from sharing your best practices with them. The most important factor is when the COVID+ employee last worked. So if they last worked several days ago, and you’ve already cleaned and sanitized, then the 24 hour closure’s intent is no longer pertinent. Some have agreed with this.
What percentage of COVID patients experience loss of taste and smell?
Great question. And wish we had a definitive answer but we don’t. According to National Geographic, anywhere from 34 to 98 percent of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 will experience a loss of smell, clinically known as anosmia. Some will experience it for more than 30 days – and some may never regain it.
As talk of a COVID vaccine increases, and as we head into flu season, it can be helpful to understand how vaccines actually work...