Last week, the Centers for Disease Controll and Prevention (or CDC) changed their guidelines for people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 returning to work. The changes seemed modest on the surface, but meant a lot more in the sense of momentum.

Much like the changes to the CDC guidelines, the Louisiana Department of Health (or LDH) has also updated their return to work guidelines for COVID-19.

The new guidelines from LDH are nearly a mirror to the CDC changes. The state has two sets of guidelines for returning to work, one for those who had symptoms, and one set for those who were asymptomatic. The number of those who will be asymptomatic has fluctuated between sources over the last few months, from Johns Hopkins to the CDC and the World Health Organizations have all estimated anywhere from 40%-90% of infections will be asymptomatic.

For those who are symptomatic, the guidelines for returning to work are:

  • fever free without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least 24 hours, and
  • improvement in other symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath), and
  • at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared

Meaning a person, even with symptoms, can return to work within 10 days of getting sick. That's a pretty big reduction from the previous guidelines, especially for those with symptoms.

For those who are asymptomatic, but have a positive test, they simply have to wait 10 days from the point their sample for a test has been taken. The only guideline on asymptomatic positive tests from LDH says:

  • If the employee with the confirmed case of COVID-19 is asymptomatic, they can return to work after at least 10 days have passed since the collection date of the first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test as long as they remain asymptomatic.

Right now, some tests are taking up to 3 weeks to get results due to the amount of test being conducted in the state of Louisiana. Which means someone could be eligible to return to work weeks before they even find out they're COVID positive.