Unfortunately, no - we don’t yet have a “magic number” of antibody levels that mean you’re protected. We do hope to learn more about what antibody levels provide protection in the next few months, but until we research it carefully we can't be sure. Natural immunity from a previous infection is much less reliable than immunity from vaccination. It can vary a lot from person to person, depending on their exposure, infection, immune system, and how long ago they had an infection. We just can’t be sure based on testing positive for antibodies, so you should treat this employee the same as anyone else unvaccinated, including excluding them if exposed and - as is the case for everyone - excluding them if they have symptoms.
The science is still quite clear that for the vast majority of COVID+ cases, people stop being infectious as soon as they meet the time- and symptom-based criteria for ending their self-isolation. If they’ve been isolating for 10 days, they’ve had no fever for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication, and their other symptoms are resolving, they’re extremely unlikely to be able to spread the virus. Plus, people can test positive for weeks even if they’re not actually infectious anymore. A symptom-based approach to returning to work is still the best option to get recovered folks back to work.
The island of O’ahu in Hawaii has a new law requiring employees of any business to show proof of full vaccination against COVID or a negative COVID test result each week in order to operate. Customers also need to show proof of full vaccination or a negative test within 48 hours to enter businesses. The tests can be PCR or rapid, according to the Safe Access O’ahu website, but the reality of weekly testing for all unvaccinated employees is a real challenge for many businesses. Local testing is available, but can have waits up to 4 hours, so we’re helping some of our clients get large quantities of rapid test kits to their stores there to help get through the next few months. We think bulk ordering at-home rapid tests will likely save money and time given what we’re hearing about the backups at local testing sites, and the fact that employers will likely need to foot the bill for that testing time. We also recommend assigning a testing point-person at each location to help organize the logistics and keep records of testing for anyone unvaccinated.
Yes. The impact on staffing has not yet been determined but most of our clients have decided this is a business decision that is unavoidable. So even in jurisdictions where there is a testing opt out (like Honolulu), they are making new hires aware of their vaccination policy and the regulations, and engaging in interactive conversations in the hiring process if someone mentions religious or medical reasons for not being able to be vaccinated. As always, this is an important legal conversation to have with your counsel, and we’re not offering legal advice.