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.
Quarantine Period Requirements
The previous 14-day quarantine period was based on the full incubation period of the virus. However, recent data
found 90 to 99 percent of COVID-19 infections occur within 10 days of exposure.
While the standard 14-day quarantine period remains, it can be reduced to 10 days without the need for testing if the following two conditions are met:
- The individual does not develop any symptoms of COVID-19 infection during daily symptom monitoring for the 10 days after the last exposure.
- Daily symptom monitoring continues through day 14 after the last exposure.
If the 10-day quarantine period is used, the Health Department still requires that:
- Potentially exposed individuals who develop symptoms during the 14-days seek testing and self-isolate while awaiting results.
- Potentially exposed individuals strictly adhere to mitigation strategies after exiting self-quarantine such as mask use, social distancing, avoiding crowds, etc.
A 10-day quarantine period does not apply to those residing in congregate living settings or who work with individuals in high-risk groups. Additionally, there may be conflicts in the length of quarantine for employers who fall under Michigan Public Act 238 or Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules. Employers should refer to those sources when determining whether non-essential employees need to wait 14 days to return to work.
Isolation requirements for individuals with a confirmed positive COVID-19 test have not changed.
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/.