Austin Public Health is issuing the following statement related to guidelines for returning to work:
We have been informed that many employers are asking employees that have tested positive for COVID-19 to provide proof of multiple negative tests before allowing those employees to return to work. This practice is not currently recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nor Austin Public Health (APH) since individuals with mild or moderate COVID-19 remain infectious no longer than 10 days after symptom onset. Requiring re-testing places unnecessary financial burden on the employee.
APH echoes recommendations from the CDC on guidance for individuals who have had COVID-19 on returning to work. Current health guidelines require individuals stay home at least 10 days following the onset of COVID-19 symptoms and at least one day following the resolution of fever with improvement of other symptoms.
The focus of the free tests provided by APH and partner organizations is to identify new infections and limit the spread of the disease, not to re-test individuals who have had the virus and recovered. It is resource-intensive and inefficient to re-test individuals who have already tested positive.
We understand that employees and their employers want their workplaces to be safe and do not want to risk transmission by asymptomatic individuals. Following the CDC/APH guidelines will allow everyone to work in a safe environment while also ensuring that COVID-19 tests are still available for those who need it most.
Additional guidance for employers and employees related to COVID-19 can be found in these letters, which are available in both English and Spanish.