DPH Does Not Recommend Employers Require Negative COVID-19 Tests To Return To Work

VALDOSTA – Local Public Health officials want to remind employers that it is not recommended to require a negative COVID-19 test before allowing employees to return to work after they have tested positive for COVID-19.

Current isolation recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control for individuals who test positive, regardless of vaccination status, are:

  • Stay home for 5 days.
  • If you have a fever, continue to stay home until you have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
  • If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days, you can leave your house, however, you must continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.

Current quarantine recommendations for individuals who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are:

  • If Vaccinated/Boosted:

o   You do not need to stay home unless you develop symptoms, but should monitor for symptoms for 10 days.

o   Wear a mask for 10 full days after exposure.

o   If you develop symptoms, get tested.

o   If you do not develop symptoms, do not get tested until at least 5 days after your exposure.

  • If Unvaccinated/Not Boosted:

o   Stay home for at least 5 full days.

o   Wear a well fitted mask for 10 full days.

o   Monitor for symptoms for 10 days.

o   If you develop symptoms, get tested.

o   If you do not develop symptoms, do not get tested until at least 5 days after your exposure.

                The Department of Public Health recommends following current isolation and quarantine guidelines for allowing employees to return to work.

The CDC has acknowledged that there have been instances where an individual still tests positive for up to 3 months. In these cases, the CDC has said that there is no direct evidence that those individuals are still contagious to others.

Considering this information, the Department of Public Health supports a time-based and symptom-based strategy to determine when to discontinue isolation or other precautions rather than a test-based strategy.

These recommendations do not apply to facilities that are governed by state or federal agencies that have established testing protocols in place.

Due to limitations in testing supplies, health departments within South Health District will only be offering antigen (rapid) testing to symptomatic individuals. Due to overwhelming demand for COVID testing, South Georgia Medical Center’s drive-thru testing site is currently administering COVID-19 tests to symptomatic patients only. Symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, fever of 100.4 or above, shortness of breath and body aches.

Individuals who are not symptomatic or need testing for travel or to return to work should seek testing through private providers or pharmacies. PCR testing for asymptomatic individuals is also available through Mako Medical operating at the Lowndes and Tift County Health Departments. Preregistration is required: https://mako.exchange/splash/GAmakotesting/. As a reminder, results for PCR testing take on average 36 hours to receive, though result times could be longer during high demand periods.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit southhealthdistrict.com/covid19 and like South Health District on Facebook.