Use one of the following strategies to determine when health care personnel (HCP) may return to work in health care settings (Figure 2.1).
Symptomatic HCP with suspected or confirmed COVID-19
Symptom-based strategy for determining when HCP can return to work:
Except for rare situations, the CDC is no longer recommending a test-based strategy to determine when to allow HCP to return to work. Additional information can be found on the CDC’s Guidance on Return to Work Criteria for Healthcare Workers.
Test-Based Strategy for Determining when HCP Can Return to Work:
In some instances, a test-based strategy could be considered to allow HCP to return to work earlier than if the symptom-based strategy were used. However, many individuals will have prolonged viral shedding, limiting the utility of this approach. A test-based strategy could also be considered for some HCP (e.g., those who are severely immunocompromised) in consultation with local infectious diseases experts if concerns exist for the HCP being infectious for more than 20 days.
The criteria for the test-based strategy are:
Results are negative from at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected ≥24 hours apart (total of two negative specimens) tested using an FDA-authorized molecular viral assay to detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA. For more information please refer to the CDC’s Interim Guidelines for Collecting, Handling, and Testing Clinical Specimens for 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
Figure 2.1 When can I return to work? Credit: Michael Macias, MD.
After returning to work, HCP should:
For further information, review the CDC’s "Criteria for Return to Work for Healthcare Personnel With Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19 (Interim Guidance)."
Figure 2.2 Recommendations for monitoring and work restrictions based on risk category. Credit: Michael Macias, MD.
Safety Practices for Health Care Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person With Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19