The Centers for Disease Control have had recommendations in place for workers who catch the coronavirus. They’ve told us how and when to bring people who survive the infection back onto the factory floor.
However, those recommendations were based on the idea that people would be tested for the infection. In reality, lack of access to tests means that many people haven’t been tested, and won’t be, even if they’ve been diagnosed.
Tests checking to see whether people who have had COVID-19 (or think they have) have developed antibodies to the virus may be unreliable as well as hard to come by.
So CDC has issued new guidance that doesn’t rely on testing.
If workers come in with symptoms
Workers who arrive at your facility with a fever of 100 degrees or more, dry cough, and trouble breathing should be separated from other workers and sent home immediately. They should get in touch with their health care provider and get instructions. They should not go to a hospital or doctor’s office without contacting the health care provider first.
Once they’ve spoken with their doctor, they may be scheduled for testing. However, people who are otherwise healthy and have mild symptoms are sometimes being told to stay home and take care of themselves, without being tested.
COVID-19 can be deadly, but many people have mild symptoms and recover. CDC was telling employers that workers with symptoms or who tested positive needed to stay home for 14 days before returning to work.
When can workers come back?
Now, workers who have been sick can come back when they meet these criteria:
- No fever, without taking any medication to keep their temperature down, for 72 hours
- 7 days since symptoms began
- Improvement of symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath
They can also return to work is they have had two negative tests, 24 hours apart. This is not a requirement, however, since there are simply not enough test kits to go around. However, people with no symptoms who have tested positive must stay at home for at least 7 days after testing.
The CDC emphasizes that workers should have their doctors’ permission to return to work.
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