CDC guidance for COVID-19 may be adapted by state and local health departments to respond to rapidly changing local circumstances.
Who this is for: Occupational health programs and public health officials making decisions about return to work for healthcare personnel (HCP) with confirmed COVID-19, or who have suspected COVID-19 (e.g., developed symptoms of a respiratory infection [e.g., cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, fever] but did not get tested for COVID-19).
Decisions about return to work for HCP with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should be made in the context of local circumstances. Options include a test-based strategy or a non-test-based strategy (i.e., time-since-illness-onset and time-since-recovery strategy).
Use one of the below strategies to determine when HCP may return to work in healthcare settings
- Test-based strategy. Exclude from work until
- Non-test-based strategy. Exclude from work until
- At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
- At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared
If HCP were never tested for COVID-19 but have an alternate diagnosis (e.g., tested positive for influenza), criteria for return to work should be based on that diagnosis.
After returning to work, HCP should:
- Wear a facemask at all times while in the healthcare facility until all symptoms are completely resolved or until 14 days after illness onset, whichever is longer
- Be restricted from contact with severely immunocompromised patients (e.g., transplant, hematology-oncology) until 14 days after illness onset
- Adhere to hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and cough etiquette in CDC’s interim infection control guidance (e.g., cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, dispose of tissues in waste receptacles)
- Self-monitor for symptoms, and seek re-evaluation from occupational health if respiratory symptoms recur or worsen
Healthcare systems, healthcare facilities, and the appropriate state, local, territorial, and/or tribal health authorities might determine that the recommended approaches cannot be followed due to the need to mitigate HCP staffing shortages. In such scenarios: