Letter to the Editor
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This information is meant to provide guidance and information to both employers and employees regarding returning to work after a symptomatic or asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) positive COVID-19 test. These new guidelines not only help employers but employees who have missed months of work due to a positive COVID-19 test. These are the Scotland County Hospital Medical Staff’s interpretations of the CDC’s Return to Work Guidelines.
On August 10, 2020, the CDC posted new recommendations regarding employees returning to work:
Workers with mild to moderate illness who are not severely mmunocompromised can safely return to work 10 days after symptoms first appear, and at least 24 hours have passed since the last symptom/fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
Persons with more severe to critical illness or who are severely mmunocompromised likely remain infectious no longer than 20 days after onset.
Recovered persons may continue to test positive for up to 3 months after illness onset, although it is unlikely they are still contagious.
According to the CDC, these new recommendations will prevent most instances of secondary spread.
These findings strengthen the justification for relying on a symptom-based, rather than test-based, strategy for ending isolation of these patients, so that persons who are, by current evidence, no longer infectious are not kept unnecessarily isolated and excluded from work and other responsibilities.
The virus that produces COVID-19 can continue “shedding,” or producing new copies, for weeks after it first infects someone. A repeated positive test does not necessarily mean the person remains at risk of infecting others.
Individuals are testing positive well after the infectious period because there is enough virus in the system for the test to detect, but the person is not at risk of transmitting the virus.
Our recommendation is if you test positive, self-isolate for 10 days, go three days without symptoms, and get approval from your employer, you should be able to safely return to work without a negative COVID-19 test.
In view of limited testing supplies and the facts above, SCH and Clinics will not be offering back-to-work testing unless clinically indicated as determined by our COVID staff and clinicians.
If an employer requires a release to return to work, our providers are available to schedule an appointment with an employee.
If required, please call 660-956-6820 to schedule this appointment.
Based on interpretation of the new CDC guidelines, it is our recommendation to not require a negative COVID-19 test for properly recovered COVID-19 patients in order to return to work.
Scotland County Hospital Medical Staff