HELP, My employee is still testing positive after 14 days. Can the employee return to work?

HELP, My employee is still testing positive after 14 days. Can the employee return to work?

By Christina M. Reger, Esq.

So, I have received several inquiries on this question, so I thought it was worth a post.

The Guidance on this topic can be a bit confusing.  Let’s start with a timeline.

On August 3, the CDC updated its Guidance noting that people can continue to test positive for up to 3 months after diagnosis and not be infectious to others. Retesting someone in the 3 months following initial infection is not necessary unless that person is exhibiting the symptoms of COVID-19 and the symptoms cannot be associated with another illness. This Guidance has not been revised or revoked.

On December 2, the CDC updated its quarantine Guidance. On December 4, the PA Department of Health adopted the CDC’s revised guidance for general quarantine guidelines which included:

  • 10-day quarantine without testing OR
  • a 7-day quarantine with a negative test on day five or later.

However, that being said, both PA and the CDC still endorse a 14 day quarantine period with masking for the entire 14 day period, and continued symptom monitoring.

The CDC posts that individuals who have had COVID-19 can be around others after quarantining for 10 days from when symptoms first appeared, AND 24 hours fever free without the use of fever reducing medicine, AND other symptoms are improving.

Stay with me. So, if an employee tests positive for COVID-19, and quarantines for 14 days and then re-tests and is still positive, talk to the employee.

If an employee has quarantined for 14 days, AND been fever free without medication for more than 24 hours, AND her other symptoms are improving, the employee can return. 

If you want to be super duper safe and cautious, ask for a Doctor’s return to work note, or that the employee be cleared by the county Department of Health.

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