Yes. There are several things at play here. One is that COVID tests remain inaccurate. Another is that the test may have been given too soon. If a medical professional makes a presumptive diagnosis of COVID, the right course of action is to act as if it is COVID. Transmission within a home, and especially as a caregiver, is very high. So we would exclude that employee for fourteen days.
No. At this point in time, we do not believe someone can get COVID a second time right after a first illness. We don’t know how long their antibodies will last (some studies show only 90 days), but as long as the employee is fever free for 24 hours without fever reducing medication and resolving other symptoms, they can return to work?
Here’s a link to the CDC’s guidance on return to work.
We suggest contacting the health department directly, sharing this information and asking for direction. There are a few, lesser informed departments, who aren’t budging (Wichita County, TX gave us a run for our money this week). But most will discuss it with you and provide alternative return to work options. We are seeing some jurisdictions draft their own new RTW guidance in the last week or two and many are opting for 14 days after onset or + test, rather than the CDC’s recommendation of 10 days.
This has probably been the most common and sometimes most challenging question for our clinical team. Technically, these meet the CDC’s symptom criteria. We will usually require that the employee is seen by a medical professional and/or tested. And we’d exclude until that happens.
We can’t give legal advice, but this article from USA Today says they’ve done the research and you can ask why someone can’t wear a mask, and that it is not HIPAA protected.
Good question. The latest studies show that someone with COVID may continue to test positive for up to three months but the majority are no longer infectious after ten days (including 24 hours fever free without fever reducing medications). A very small number of people (those who were very sick and hospitalized or who are immunocompromised) may be infectious for 19 days - but those employees generally aren’t ready to come back to work for a long time. See the CDC recommendation here.
Well… not yet. So here’s what happened twice this week: The employee called and said they tested positive but didn’t have a hard copy of results (or a screenshot, or access to their clinic’s testing portal). We did some quick research and found that the urgent care they went to was only offering rapid antibody testing. The nurse gave that employee bad information, or the employee clearly misunderstood, because the employee thought they needed to isolate for ten days. In fact, the next morning we confirmed they were antibody positive and the location didn’t need to close and the employee didn’t need to isolate. Similar thing happened again within hours. So our best advice is: verify. Do not take action until you have some confirmation that the result is positive. Nearly all testing sites now email results, provide access to a portal, or text the result which they can screen shot. Once you’ve verified (which may mean calling the health dept.), then you may need to close if that’s required in your area.
You know we’re huge fans of Dr. Mike Osterholm. His interview for Market Watch is sobering but also gives us a potential view into the future and maybe a road map.
While we still can’t go back to gyms in many states, here’s what it might look like when we can,