Multiple Bay Area counties are now going to be recommending that businesses allow workers to return to work 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19, so long as they have a relatively mild case.
The recommendations, which are a surprising shift after months of believing that 14 days was a minimum amount of quarantine time, are coming from the Centers for Disease Control, and they're backed up by experts at UCSF and Stanford. As ABC 7 reports, the new guidelines are based on evidence that the vast majority those who contract the coronavirus are no longer contagious after a ten-day period from symptom onset.
The guidelines also do not recommend getting a second COVID test due to the possibility of a false positive caused by lingering dead virus cells. "Most people do not require testing to decide when they can be around others," the CDC says, "however, if your healthcare provider recommends testing, they will let you know when you can resume being around others based on your test results."
If a person has a severe case that requires hospitalization, or if they have underlying health conditions, the CDC says that they should remain isolated for 20 days before returning to work. The guidelines further state that the person should have no fever, and any symptoms like cough or shortness of breath should have improved before returning to work.
"For the healthy individual, 10 days will be plenty and we just haven't seen the evidence for spread after that period of time," says Stanford Health Care's Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, speaking to ABC 7. "Some people do shed virus in our study up to two months," Maldonado adds, "but whether or not that is infectious virus or not, that is unclear."
Well that's not comforting!
Solano County Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas, whose advice may not be the first one would be likely to follow after he was a bit over-eager to allow office workers to keep coming to the office early on in the pandemic — and Solano County was the last Bay Area county to issue a shelter-in-place order — issued a statement meant to put businesses at ease.
"We understand that businesses have concerns about employees returning to the workplace; however, retesting is unnecessary to prove that employees can no longer spread the disease," Matyas said, per KRON4. "Once the 10-day isolation has been completed, employees may return to work." The county is also discouraging employers from requiring clearance letters from doctors.
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