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COVID-19 Briefing - 8/14

New saliva tests, changes in testing, and more.

Today’s Recap:

Best Questions:

My employee received a positive rapid test and then went and got tested again the next day and tested negative.  Can I assume the first test was a false negative and return her to work?

Unfortunately, the answer is no.  Although false negatives are far more common than false positives, it is as likely that she was tested at different points in her viral load.  And viral loads don’t rise and fall in a smooth curve.  The first test may have been at the very beginning of her illness, she might have had a very short infectious period, or it may have been at the end of her illness.  We just have no way of knowing.   And a footnote, in a real case: a close contact tested positive four days later so we can only assume the first positive was accurate.

Many kids and teachers are getting tested as part of the return to work process.  Will answering yes to the “tested” question on the daily wellness check result in the employee being excluded?

Great question (and really timely).  The answer is no - return to school testing, return to work testing, regular testing for another job and curiosity testing should not exclude an employee from work unless they are reporting symptoms or close contact.

An employee failed the daily wellness check but went to work anyway. Do we need to exclude everyone who worked today?

Until the employee has either a presumptive diagnosis of COVID or tests positive, you don’t necessarily need to exclude anyone else.  You do need to tighten up on following your work exclusions,  though!  Some clients require a manager swipe before an employee can clock in to prevent this from happening. 

An employee was excluded five days ago for fever over 100, diarrhea and bad headache, still has symptoms, but never tested for COVID. Their roommate tested positive today.  Do we start their exclusion over to 14 days?

Sadly, the answer is yes. Unless the employee had been tested and tested positive, you can’t assume their illness was COVID.  The health department would absolutely tell you that this employee needed to be excluded as if they’re a close contact, even though there is some high likelihood the roommate got COVID from them.  We know this is really frustrating for managers who are trying to staff.  Until there is better, more available, affordable and accurate testing, employees are not always going to go get tested.

Employee has been out for 27 days, testing negative, still has a cough. Manager would like to know if we can request a doctor's note to come back or does he have to always be out while he has a cough?

This is a question we’re getting many times every day.  The optics of returning someone to work post-COVID who is still coughing isn’t good.  It makes coworkers and customers, understandably, uncomfortable.  It’s also difficult to wear a mask while coughing.  In this case, we’d request a doctor’s note.  

Best Read: 

COVID-19 testing is complicated and this week, Texas reported a huge drop in requested tests as patients say “why bother?”, but a huge jump in % positive (something like 25%).  Understanding what’s happening with testing, why, and what we need to do to fix it is crucial. 

Why Some People Are Waiting Weeks for Their COVID-19 Test Results

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Disclaimer: This post is meant for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute, and is not intended as, any form of medical, legal or regulatory advice or a recommendation or suggestion regarding the same.  No recipient of this information should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.