Important 'Return to Work' Information for Employers
Due to the extremely high rate of COVID-19 infections in Kent County, public health officials cannot conduct case investigations, contact tracing and issue “release from isolation/quarantine” letters in a timely manner. We have prepared the following guidelines to help employers get employees back to work after they recover from the coronavirus or are eligible for release from quarantine.
Isolation: Employee had COVID-19
If an employee tested positive or was exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and was in isolation, that employee is considered no longer contagious and may return to work if they meet the following three criteria:
- It has been at least 10 days from the date of their test or since symptoms first appeared and
- They have had no fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and
- Their other COVID-19 symptoms are improving. The loss of taste and smell may last for weeks or months, so that is not a reason to continue to isolate.
Employers are strongly encouraged to conduct a health screening call with employees before allowing them to return to work. This is the same type of screening call that a health department official would conduct prior to issuing a “release from isolation” letter. The screener should ask:
- Has it been at least 10 days from the date of your test or since symptoms first appeared? and
- Have you been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication? and
- Are your other COVID-19 symptoms are improving?
If the employee meets these three criteria, they can be cleared to return to work. We DO NOT RECOMMEND that employees be required to show proof of two negative tests or present a “release from isolation” letter from the Kent County Health Department. Both requirements would significantly and unnecessarily delay the employee’s return to work. Plus, studies have shown that some individuals continue to test positive long after they contracted the virus and are no longer contagious.
For more information on isolation, please visit the CDC web page on this topic.
Quarantine: Employee had close contact with someone with COVID-19
If an employee had close contact with someone who is infected and did not test positive for COVID-19, the employee must quarantine for 14 days from the date of their last contact with the infected person. Quarantine means the employee should stay home, stay away from others as much as possible and watch for symptoms. Individuals cannot test out of quarantine. That is because it can take up to 14 days for the virus to incubate after contact with someone who is infected. If, after 14 days of quarantine, the employee has not tested positive and does not have symptoms associated with COVID-19, they may end quarantine and return to work.
WE DO NOT RECOMMEND that employees be required to show proof of two negative tests or present a “release from quarantine” letter from the Kent County Health Department. Both requirements would significantly and unnecessarily delay the employee’s return to work. For more information on quarantine, please visit the CDC webpage on this topic.
For All Employers
Additionally, we strongly encourage all employers to implement universal screening of all employees at the start of every on-site shift. For more information on a simple and effective screening program, please visit https://kentcountybacktowork.com/health-screening-tool/.