Should my coworkers be tested for Covid?
September 19, 2022 10:58 AM   Subscribe

A coworker tested positive for Covid on Sunday. He also says he developed symptoms on Sunday. He was in his office with several unmasked people (including himself) for 30 minutes on Thursday, three days before he tested positive or got symptoms. Do the others that were in his office need to get tested? And if so, can anyone send me the CDC guideline(s) that says so? My boss won't take your word for it, but they will hopefully take the CDC's word.
posted by Furnace of Doubt to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Well, the CDC's guidance for what to do after an exposure is to mask for 10 days and to test starting on day 6 after exposure through day 10. If he didn't test positive or have symptoms for three days after you interacted with him, I don't know if that counts as exposure, though.

But regardless, if you're counting that as an exposure, the CDC would not recommend testing today; they would recommend testing should start on Wednesday (and that you should mask for 10 days regardless of test status).
posted by mskyle at 11:06 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


The CDC guidelines are currently that if you've been exposed, mask for 10 days. They only advise you test if you develop symptoms.

Of course, despite what they say it would be smart to test. You might not be able to get your boss to force this, but if you brought in tests to the office, I'd imagine at least some of your co-workers would test.
posted by coffeecat at 11:08 AM on September 19 [4 favorites]


I’m very COVID cautious and worked in contact tracing for a good long while. The interaction you described wouldn’t count as an exposure (would have to be in the 24hrs before he started showing symptoms.
posted by raccoon409 at 11:32 AM on September 19 [4 favorites]


I can't find anywhere that the CDC officially defines "exposure" anymore, but when they did define it in the past, their most cautious definition was something like "For contact tracing purposes, a "close contact" is anyone who spent 15 minutes or more within a 24-hour period and was within 6 feet of a person infected with COVID-19 while they were infectious (2 days before onset of symptoms to 10 days after).

So while your coworkers spent enough time (30 minutes) around the coworker, they spent that time one day earlier than would have "counted" for official contact-tracing purposes.

Also, if it makes you feel any better, I was involved with a fair amount of contact tracing efforts in a college environment earlier in the pandemic, and in my (limited!) experience, MOST transmission was happening when folks were close contacts much closer to the time symptoms started or after someone was already symptomatic.
posted by mjcon at 11:45 AM on September 19 [4 favorites]


We know that people develop symptoms far faster with Omicron. The American Medical Association website quotes a doctor as saying,
“We know that the time that you are around a person that has Omicron in terms of exposure to the time that you actually manifest symptoms is shorter,” he said. “Originally, it could be five to six days or even up to 14 days before a person might manifest symptoms after getting infected.

"That time seems to be lower, around two to three days after exposure to developing symptoms,” Dr. Parodi added.

Harvard University Health website says that most transmission for Omicron happens between one or two days before the onset of symptoms and two or three days after.

"The time from exposure to symptom onset (known as the incubation period) is thought to be two to 14 days. Symptoms typically appeared within five days for early variants, and within four days for the Delta variant. The incubation period appears to be even shorter – about three days – for the Omicron variant.

We know that people tend to be most infectious early in the course of their infection. With Omicron, most transmission occurs during the one to two days before onset of symptoms, and in the two to three days afterwards."

So, there is a chance that he might have been infected on Thursday (three days before symptoms) but less likely that there was enough viral load to be infectious to others. So, still possible but not likely that others in the office would have gotten Covid from this person.
posted by metahawk at 1:15 PM on September 19


(Correction from above that I stated 24 hours before but the definition had changed to 2 days, as stated in the link I shared)
posted by raccoon409 at 3:48 PM on September 19


This question seems to be asking "can I make my work have people get tested?" and in 2022 when "the pandemic is over" (thanks, Biden! You're wrong!), I suspect the answer to this is "I highly doubt it." However, I do think your coworkers should get tested, given current incubation being around 2 days for omicron. Currently they're telling the non-symptomatic (yet) to wait until day 5 to test, though, so....as said above, they are supposed to test in a day or so.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:05 PM on September 19


Something to clarify: did your coworker get symptoms for the first time and test positive on the same day? Because that’s pretty unusual now—most people are developing initial symptoms for a few days before testing positive. If your coworker had any symptoms in the days before their positive test, that would push the timeline back on the onset of any potential transmission, per the CDC guidelines.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 7:25 AM on September 20


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