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COVID-19 Briefing - 9/8

Today’s Recap

Best Questions

Are there false positives on rapid tests?

Yes, but they are very rare - MUCH more rare than false negative tests. The first rapid antigen tests approved by the FDA had a specificity of 100%, meaning that false negatives are extremely uncommon. Other PCR (or molecular) tests have a specificity ranging from 84%-97%, meaning that anywhere from 3%-16% of positive results may be false positives. The cases like the Ohio governor DeWine having a false positive are very few and far between. 

All in all, assume that a negative result means basically nothing (you may still have COVID), and a positive result means you almost certainly have COVID.  

Someone tested positive on a rapid test and then negative on a lab test reported later.  How is that best handled?

This is tough, and extremely rare. If this person has any symptoms, we recommend treating them as if they do have COVID, with a full 10-day exclusion. If this person was asymptomatic, we recommend getting a second PCR (not rapid) COVID test. Even the PCR tests, which are sent to a lab for testing, still have a high false negative rate (ranging from 2-40%!), so the lab result may have been the false one here. It’s always safest to assume that a negative test is a false-negative, and a positive test is accurate - and that’s backed up by the data showing an extremely small number of false positives.  

An employee’s child was sent home from school for possible close contact.  Does the employee need to be excluded?

Not if the employee’s child doesn’t have any symptoms. We do not recommend excluding employees for second-hand exposure. In this case, if the child (or the employee) starts to develop any symptoms, then we’d keep the employee out. 

My daughter is away at college and tested positive.  The school’s isolation dorms are full so they are sending her home.  Do I need to be excluded from work if she comes home?

If you have close contact with her for 15 total minutes within 6ft, you will need to be excluded for 14 days after that close contact. But there are ways around this with careful planning. How will she get home? Can two people drive in separate cars to her college, then let her drive herself home alone in one car? Once she’s home, can she separate in a separate bedroom and bathroom, with healthy family members dropping food outside her door for her? Key things to avoid are: being in an enclosed space, like a car or bedroom, sharing a bathroom, sharing a kitchen. If a bathroom and kitchen do need to be shared, isolation is still possible if used separately and cleaned/sanitized thoroughly between each use. 

A Team Member’s son is away at college, is now sick and needs to come home.  If he  goes to pick him up and drive him home, will he need to be excluded - even if he isolates when he gets home?

Yes - if you are in an enclosed car with a sick child for more than 15 minutes, you’ll need to self-quarantine for 14 days after your last exposure even if the sick child is isolating at home. Again, if the child is well enough, consider dropping a car off for him and having the son drive himself home and immediately self-isolating in the house. 

Best Read:

If you read one more article today, consider this one.  Even shipping COVID-19 vaccine will be complicated.  This article will give you a headache, but also makes it very clear that we’re not all getting vaccinated any time soon...and need to plan accordingly.

COVID vaccine: Complex distribution supply chain will follow approval

Best Laugh:

Welcome to Fall. Who thought we’d still be … well, you know...

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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.