Please join Roslyn Stone, MPH, CEO, Zero Hour Health and Michelle Harden, JD Managing Partner, Messner Reeves as they discuss the ongoing COVID rollercoaster on Thursday, January 6th at 3pm EST (12pm Pacific).
We'll cover Omicron surging orders of magnitude beyond even our worst days in August, why 5 day exclusions aren’t bringing anticipated relief, what the Supreme Court OSHA ETS process will look like, and the legal interpretations around the ETS rollout, supervised testing, and more!
COVID+ people may test positive for weeks or even months after they’re no longer infectious, so in the past, the CDC has not required or even recommended that people should test negative before resuming their day to day activities after a COVID infection. That said, the US Surgeon General teased in the news this week that there may be updates to the latest CDC guidance shortening 10 days to 5, saying that there may be a role for antigen (or rapid) testing in returning sooner than 10 days. We’re watching this closely and will update you as soon as we hear from the CDC about any of this.
If they are exposed to someone COVID+ and they are symptom free, they can still return to work, though we recommend requiring them to wear a mask for 10 days, the same as those who are protected via immunization will need to after an exposure. According to the OSHA guidelines, someone unvaccinated doesn’t need to do weekly testing for 90 days after their initial symptom start date (or positive test date if they didn’t have symptoms). If someone who has recently had COVID has symptoms, they should be excluded from work based on those symptoms regardless of any recent infection. We’re seeing a much higher rate of reinfection with Omicron, so any symptoms should be treated as though they may be a new case of COVID.
Not if they got the booster after their exposure. If they were already exposed, they might already be dealing with an infection, even if their symptoms haven’t shown up yet. Better to quarantine for the appropriate amount of time and then get the booster as soon as it’s safe to do so, without risking the exposure of the people at the vaccination site.
Unfortunately, the answer is yes, unvaccinated employees need to be excluded every single time they have close contact (at least until they test positive - then they can be exempt for 90 days). There’s no maximum. We’re seeing unvaccinated employees being excluded over and over again due to exposure, but the reality is that they can become infectious after each exposure. Just because they luckily avoided getting sick the first few times doesn’t mean they won’t get sick after the next one. It’s just another reason that it’s crucial to focus on getting unvaccinated employees to get the shot - and to encourage everyone else to get the booster dose as soon as they’re eligible!