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COVID-19 Briefing - 8/28

Updated travel guidance, clarification around 24 day exclusions, vaccine updates, and more.

Exclusion Chart Updates:

We’ve updated the Exclusion Table in two minor ways this week:

  • Added clarification around when a 24 day exclusion is required (fortunately, not very often). 
  • Removed 14 day quarantine requirement for international travel, per the CDC’s most recent recommendations. They (quietly) dropped the quarantine requirement this past week. We still advise against any non-critical travel, and we recommend that you have a specific company policy about whether/when to quarantine after travel. 

Today’s Recap:

Best Questions:

My employees (and even some of my managers) don’t understand that even if they were excluded for close contact exposure before, they will need to be excluded again.  What’s the best way to explain this?

You can get COVID-19 any time. When you’re asked to self-quarantine, it’s because you have had close contact with someone who has the virus so you might get sick in the next 14 days. The point of the quarantine is to make sure you’re not out spreading the virus if you do happen to become sick.  If you don’t get sick, that’s great! But it doesn’t mean you’re magically protected from getting it in the future. So, if you quarantine for 14 days after an exposure to someone sick, and then you get exposed again, you need to quarantine again for another 14 days from your most recent exposure. 

If you do get sick and have lab-confirmed COVID-19, there’s a 90-day window when you won’t need to quarantine again if you get exposed again. That’s the ONLY time you’re exempt from quarantine if you’re exposed.

 If you didn’t get a positive test result and just had symptoms, you’ll need to quarantine after every future exposure. If you had confirmed COVID but it was over 90 days ago, you’ll need to quarantine after every future exposure. If you have quarantined twice already from exposure to family members and then get exposed again, -- you guessed it -- you’ll need to quarantine. 

An employee’s boyfriend tested positive and she says they can isolate.  What is the correct exclusion?

14 days from the most recent close contact.  So if the boyfriend tested positive on the 1st and that’s the last day that they had close contact, then she can return to work on the 15th, unless she develops symptoms herself.

Is it OK to give employees guidance or information on how to minimize contact with someone they live with who is sick?

We think the answer to that question is yes - although always be mindful of the source of your information.  Here’s a good link from the CDC:  Isolate If You Are Sick  We’ve had several employees tell us they really hadn’t thought about moving to the couch or asking sick roommates to share (and stay within) a room so there was a designated sick room.  Disinfecting shared bathrooms and kitchens and limiting kitchen use is important too. 

If COVID tests are so inaccurate and have such a high false negative rate, is there a point to getting tested?

The false positive rate is much lower than the false negative rate, so testing is helpful to know if you DO have COVID. It helps contact tracers be sure to reach out to any people you’ve have close contact with so they can self-isolate, and it means you won’t be excluded for COVID exposure for the next 90 days. 

And one of the toughest questions of the week:  An employee was at a gathering and someone attended who they now hear had COVID.  Do we need to exclude this employee?

We would definitely need some additional information to best answer this question.  Were they contacted by a health department or contact tracer and told to self-quarantine?  Is the person someone they know directly and therefore can verify they were physically near one another? Were they generally six feet apart?  Was this gathering indoors or outdoors?  In this particular instance, after getting answers to those questions, we did not advise excluding the employee.  There was no verification about a COVID+ person, no communication from the health department, and it was outdoors.   

A similar question is someone at my kids’ high school tested positive - do I need to stay home from work.  Answer: No - even if your teen was told to self-quarantine, you wouldn’t need to stay out of work unless your own child (with whom you live and/or have close contact) were to become symptomatic or test positive. 

Best Read:     

All kinds of other guidance related to COVID keeps changing but “six feet” seemed constant.  And now maybe it’s not...

Six feet may not be enough to protect against coronavirus, experts warn

Best Laugh:   

This needs no teeing up...

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