TAMPA, Fla. - Diane Burge was almost certain her symptoms back in June were just allergies and not coronavirus, but she expressed concern to her boss anyway.
“She said, we can’t assume its allergies, you need to get tested, and once you get tested, you can’t return to work, until you have test results,” Burge said.
This has been the reality for many employees during the pandemic. Employers require a negative test before returning to work, and employees are using sick time while they wait for results. For Burge, it was three and a half days.
“I ran out of sick [days] and had to use a little bit of vacation hours to cover that,” she said.
Today the governor said that’s all about to end.
“You shouldn’t be requiring a negative PCR test for someone to come back to work,” Ron DeSantis said.
DeSantis cited new guidelines released last week by the CDC, which say an employee can return to work without a negative test if you have not had a fever in 24 hours after quarantining for 10 days.
Previously, you had to be fever-free for 72 hours.
“You can test positive on a test for up to 12 weeks. So a lot of the people that are asymptomatic that are testing positive, there is no way for us to know whether that is live virus,” DeSantis said. “In many cases, it’s not.”
Burge’s test came back negative, but she says once the symptoms went away, she felt guilty just waiting for the results.
“You felt kind of guilty, as I was just sitting at home when you could be at work doing work,” Burge said. “I also was frustrated because I was using my sick time.”
DeSantis said the new guidance will be coming down from the state in the next week.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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