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Returning to work after being tested for COVID

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Today begins a statewide antibody testing survey conducted by the Department of Health, where they’ll sample a portion of New York’s population to estimate what percentage may now be immune.

Governor Cuomo says the federal government is also helping with the supply chain and coordinating private labs to ramp up diagnostic testing, with the ultimate goal of getting people back to work and restarting the economy.

New guidance from DOH and the CDC now allows anyone who’s recovered from the virus to return to their job if it’s essential, along with anyone who may have been exposed but isn’t symptomatic.

Health officials in Cortland County acknowledged those guidelines with a list of conditions that need to be met before those in consideration can return to work.

Essential personnel who have been exposed to a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 can be permitted to work in the required workplace setting if all of the following conditions are met:

  1. Working from home would not be feasible for job duties;
  2. Asymptomatic;
  3. Quarantine whenever not at work;
  4. Undergo temperature monitoring and symptom checks upon arrival to work and at least every 12 hours while at work, and self-monitor (i.e. take temperature, assess for symptoms) twice a day when at home;
  5. Those required to interact with individuals within 6 feet should wear a face mask while working for 14 days following the last exposure;
  6. Those with job duties that permit a separation of greater than 6 feet should have environmental controls in place to ensure adequate separation is maintained, but do not need to wear a face mask;
  7. If person develop s symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, or shortness of breath) while working, they should immediately stop work and isolate at home; and
  8. Testing should be prioritized for essential personnel with symptoms.

Essential personnel with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 may be permitted to work in the required workplace setting if all of the following conditions are met:

  1. Working from home would adversely impact essential services or functions, including critical public health and public works infrastructure in New York or the response to the COVID-19 public health emergency;
  2. Personnel have maintained isolation for at least 7 days after illness onset (i.e. symptoms first appeared) and have not had a fever for at least 72 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medications, and with other symptoms improving;
  3. Personnel who are recovering from COVID-19, and return to work, must wear a facemask for 14 days following onset of illness.

CDC guidance recommends any decision must be made in the context of community
circumstances and the nature of the workplace into which the employee is returning to.

“This should be done in compliance with the OSHA Guidance on maintaining a safe workplace during the COVID-19 epidemic as well as the Regulations and Guidance provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,” added county health officials.

Separate guidance has been issued on how and when to allow health care workers to return to work, creating a need for employers to consider whether current social distancing, use of masks and sanitation are sufficient.

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