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COVID-19 Briefing - Friday, July 24th

Some good news, common questions about employee exclusions, and more.

Some good news: 

Today’s Recap:

  • The CDC confirmed something that we’ve been seeing lots of in your employees: Recovery in young adults, even without underlying conditions, can take a long time after COVID. 1 in 5 young adults ages 18-34 are not back to their usual health 2-3 weeks after testing positive.
  • A new study sheds light on how COVID is spreading.  The CDC reports that 2 in 100 people are getting COVID outside their homes while 1 in 10 are getting it after someone they live with has it.  This means excluding close contacts who live with, are caring for or in close contact with someone with COVID is critically important. 
  • Many of you are making difficult decisions about COVID pay and in particular, denying COVID pay when employees make irresponsible decisions about attending parties and large events and are exposed.’
  • The CDC has updated its site to clarify that anyone who is COVID+ (sick or asymptomatic) should isolate for 10 days. They’re also no longer recommending a testing-based return to work strategy at all. 
  • Keeping up with ever-changing regulations, especially within states, remains challenging.  One example:  While Alaska has no guest info requirements, the City of Anchorage is citing restaurants who don’t collect guest information.
  • More and more data shows that wearing masks works.  But not all masks work as well as others. Masks with multiple layers are significantly more effective. Similar to toilet paper - singly ply just doesn’t do the job as well. 

Best Questions:

The employee indicated they had a new fever or cough, but claims it’s due to an existing condition. Exclude them?

Yes.  Employees are telling us all different reasons they think they have a new cough, fever, headache - even loss of taste or smell.  Bottom line is it’s a pandemic.. You likely need to assume it’s COVID unless there is clear information that it isn’t. Anything new or changed, we need to assume that they have COVID in addition to their underlying condition. 

An employee told her manager she had no symptoms and made a mistake on her wellness check, but on the survey indicated she had a new cough.  How should we handle that?

This is a tough one. If you’re handling wellness checks directly, chat privately with the employee and ask them again if they have any of the symptoms  (6ft apart if you are in person, please!). We recommend asking them very directly - e.g. “do you have ANY new or changed cough?” Ultimately, we have to take employees at their word. If the employee doesn’t have any cough when you speak with them, and they confirm that they do not have any new cough, you should be clear to let them work. If you notice them cough, shiver, or look ill at work - send them home!

Some doctors and managers are telling employees they need two negative tests after a positive but the CDC is saying otherwise.  How do we address that?

This clearly has been one of your more significant issues/questions of the week.  Newest data shows that someone is no longer infectious 10 days after onset.  Yet health departments and doctors are still recommending or suggesting or requiring 2 negative tests when testing availability is becoming scarcer and turnaround times up to 10 days in many places.  Here’s a link to where the CDC says it isn’t needed.

An employee was in close contact with someone with full blown COVID symptoms.  Ten days later that person tested negative.  Do we bring the employee back sooner than 14 days?

We wouldn’t - the tests have very high false negative rates.  In this case, there are only a few days left.  We think it’s not worth the risk to return this person early. 

Best Read: 

We’re seeing a huge number of asymptomatic cases, or cases where people are just a little bit sick - a small sore throat, just loss of taste or smell, etc. These cases are driving the transmission of the virus in hotspots, in particular. 

Why do asymptomatic COVID-19 cases even happen?

Best Laugh:

The apocalypse movies never mentioned all the sitting around.
“The apocalypse movies never mentioned all the sitting around.”

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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.