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COVID-19 Briefing - 8/25

Reinfection, vaccines, updated travel guidance, and more...

Today’s Recap:

  • Researchers in Hong Kong documented the first case of COVID reinfection, and now Belgium has reported two more confirmed reinfections. 
  • We’re seeing employees with health issues from the CA wildfires whose symptoms are  similar to COVID. Wildfire sore throat vs. COVID sore throat...only something that 2020 could throw at us. 
  • The CDC updated its travel guidance to no longer recommend 2 week quarantine after international or interstate travel unless required by state regs. 
  • NY, NJ, and CT removed Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Maryland and Montana from their required 14 day quarantine list and they’ve also added airport COVID testing sites at JFK, LaGuardia and Newark. 

Best Questions:

Our Managers are encouraging staff to get tested (for various reasons, usually when there is a non work related exposure or a few symptoms)...not realizing they will be excluded regardless. Then the staff member comes back negative and is still excluded…How do we communicate to them about why they should not be sending employees to be tested right now?

Here’s a message you can share: 

At this time, neither the CDC nor our medical advisors at Zero Hour Health are recommending employee testing unless it is specifically being required by a local or state health department.  Here’s why: The results don’t change our actions for returning to work or reducing exclusion days. We can’t return either a sick or an exposed employee sooner based on a test result. The tests have a very high false negative rate, take too long, and are often performed too soon to detect incubating virus.  The rapid tests in particular have a very high false negative rate.


Added to that, testing all employees (or any employees) gives a false sense of security and at times, actually ends up discouraging cautious behaviors that protect us all, like wearing masks and social distancing.


There are a few states or jurisdictions that are requiring that all employees get tested when there is a confirmed case.  We’ll manage those on a case by case basis.  They can be challenging because many testing sites won’t test someone who isn’t symptomatic or hasn’t had a close contact.


If an employee is sick, exposed, or chooses to be tested out of curiosity, that’s their personal decision.  But unfortunately, workplace testing isn’t yet ready for widespread use.  We expect  that testing will become a more valuable workplace tool soon – with more reliable tests that are widely available and have quick turnaround times.  

An employee has a fever due to oral surgery. They have a doctor’s note saying as much, and that they’re cleared to work. Do they need to be out for 10 days due to fever?

Not if they have a note. They do have to be 24 hours fever-free without fever-reducing medication, which might be a few days after this surgery. When someone has a fever, if they have a doctor’s note stating a specific reason that isn’t likely to be COVID (e.g. surgery, root canal, etc.), we recommend allowing them to return with a note after 24-hours fever-free without fever-reducing medication like Tylenol, Advil, etc. 

An employee that took a COVID test and antibody test at the same time. COVID test came back negative and antibody came back positive. Do they need to be excluded?

Not unless they have symptoms. If they have symptoms, they’ll be excluded based off those. If they were tested out of curiosity, for another job, etc. then we will not exclude. All that means is that they may have been infected with the coronavirus sometime in the past few months - we don’t know when. There’s no action required or recommended when someone tests positive for antibodies. It’s only a positive COVID test that requires action on your part. 

Best Read: 

The Economist has been on excellent voice of reason and source of good info through the pandemic. This viewpoint from Nicholas Christakis truly helps us get a better handle on what it will take to beat this.

Fighting covid-19 by truly understanding the virus

Best Laugh: 

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…

Big shoutout to our team of RNs, PAs, and public health experts who have been working like superheroes for 5+ months during this crisis. We’re so grateful!

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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.