According to SHRM, “more employers are asking job applicants about their COVID-19 vaccination status with the goal of protecting co-workers and customers.” But before you add this to your list of interview questions or new hire checklists, your counsel should weigh in. There are legal limits to what you can ask and ADA considerations can come into play quickly.
We hope so! There are many testing advances due as early as fall, but confidently accepting a negative test result will depend on case counts and how much COVID is circulating in your area, as well as the specific symptoms the person is experiencing. If someone has a new loss of taste or smell, cough and high fever, that’s likely going to be a full 10-day exclusion for the foreseeable future. But if someone has just a new sore throat, headache and runny nose, that’s the kind of thing where a negative COVID test might help get them back to work sooner if case counts aren’t very high in the area. COVID testing will likely never catch 100% of true positives - even highly accurate tests like a strep throat culture miss about 5% of positive cases - so there will always be some consideration of symptoms, community spread and possible alternative diagnoses.
We’ve heard some rumors that the CDC might reduce the 10-day exclusion to a 7-day exclusion for those who are COVID+ in an attempt to get better compliance with self-isolation. That said, it’s just a rumor and we haven’t heard anything more from the CDC about that in recent days.
At some point, they might also reduce the 10-day exclusion for those who’ve tested negative for COVID-19. If cases across the country drop so low that it’s more likely that a symptom is a sign of another illness rather than COVID, we might see them reduce the 10-day exclusion with a negative test.
We are seeing slightly better vaccination rates, but it looks like it’s not due to the changes in mask guidance. The latest Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows that the vast majority of people who haven’t been vaccinated say “the new CDC guidelines stating that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing in most situations does not make a difference in their own decision about whether to get vaccinated.” While it might help a little, other more promising measures include paid time off from companies, free rides from ride sharing apps, and cash or gift incentives like sporting event tickets, gift cards, or lottery entries.