Monday, September 21, 2020

Coronavirus Update 9-21-2020: the CDC continues to create a mess for employers on testing; and a word on RBG

Last Friday, the CDC yet again updated its guidance for COVID-19 testing. If you're keeping count, this is the CDC's fifth set of testing rules.

What's changed? 
Due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this guidance further reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons, including close contacts of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection.

This change is huge. Just four weeks ago, the CDC had updated the same guidance to state: "If you have been in close contact (within 6 feet) of a person with a COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes but do not have symptoms, you do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or State or local public health officials recommend you take one." Now, the agency says the exact opposite.
  • If you have been in close contact, such as within 6 feet of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection for at least 15 minutes and do not have symptoms.
    • You need a test. Please consult with your healthcare provider or public health official. Testing is recommended for all close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Because of the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, it is important that contacts of individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection be quickly identified and tested. Pending test results, you should self-quarantine/isolate at home and stay separated from household members to the extent possible and use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available.

Make no mistake, this change was absolutely necessary and should have been the default all along. Because of the prevalence of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic carrying of the virus, many do not know that they even have COVID-19, and therefore we can't isolate to prevent further community spread without testing. It just would have been nice, however, if the CDC came to this realization sooner than six months into the pandemic.

As a result, you may have more employees missing work, and more employees seeking paid leave under the FFCRA. But that's okay because the only way we can defeat this virus until we have a safe and reliable vaccine is to stop it from spreading in the first place.

I'd be remiss if I did not say a word or two about the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

Friday felt like an absolute gut punch. A good friend said it best on Twitter, in the hours after RBG's passing:

God bless her for her steadfast service to the ideals of America and especially for the idea that little girls can do and aspire to whatever a little boy can. You lived your truths, exceptionally. Love you RBG.
RBG was the most significant jurist for women's rights in the history of our nation. She is and will continue to be a hero to many, and she will surely and sorely be missed both for who she was and for what she stood and will continue to stand.

Rest in peace Justice Ginsburg. You held on as long as you could. You are now heaven's great dissenter.