CDC releases new guidelines for re-testing patients before returning to work

Updated: Jul. 21, 2020 at 10:47 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Centers for Disease Control have released new guidelines about returning to work after you test positive for COVID-19.

Because of a massive backlog at commercial labs that serve Memphis & the Mid-South, employees with COVID-19 no longer have to get another test before they’re cleared to go back to work.

There is a severe nationwide testing backlog right now. In some cases, it’s taking weeks to get test results back.

Ideally, it should only take 24 to 48 hours.

Those who tested positive have been unable to get another test performed or get their results.

Employees have to stay off the job burning sick days or going without pay. So the CDC changed the guidelines on when its safe to return to the workforce.

“Don’t send your employees to get retested if they’ve been positive,” said Dr. Jon McCullers with the U.T. Health Science Center. “We no longer require or even ask for retesting. It’s better just to wait 10 days and release them back to the workforce after 10 days instead of getting retested because that’s backing us up even further.”

Here’s the new CDC guidance just updated this week for employees who had mild to moderate illness. They can return to work if:

  • At least 10 days have passed since first symptoms
  • At least 24 hours have passed since their last fever without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
  • Symptoms like cough or shortness of breath need to show improvement

If you don’t have any symptoms and have never been tested, health officials say don’t get tested right now.

McCullers says they’re seeing a leveling off of cases over the last two weeks that corresponds to the time when a real push was made to start wearing masks.

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