COVID-19 Testing Questions Answered

COVID-19 Testing Questions Answered

Can an employer require their employees be tested? This depends on the situation. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the ADA requires any policy mandating employee testing be “job related and consistent with business necessity.” Applying this standard to COVID-19: because an infected individual poses a direct threat to others, employers may take steps, including testing, to determine whether employees entering the workplace have COVID-19. Please learn more here.

Should an employer require their employees to be tested for COVID-19 routinely or before returning to work? The Department of Health only recommends routine screening of asymptomatic employees in certain high risk situations (e.g., healthcare workers in skilled nursing facilities). Screening asymptomatic workers for COVID-19 only assesses the worker at that point in time and tests do not always detect people who are infected.

The Department of Health strongly discourages employers from requiring their employees to test negative before returning to work after a confirmed COVID-19 infection. People with confirmed COVID-19 infection who are not hospitalized can return to work after:

  • At least 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
  • At least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication and
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving (Note: Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation)​

People with confirmed COVID-19 infection who were admitted to a hospital may need to stay in isolation up to 20 days since their symptoms first appeared. Repeat testing after COVID-19 is not generally recommended because recovered persons can shed pieces of the SARS-CoV-2 virus at very low levels in their nose and test positive for up to 3 months after illness onset. However, these individuals are not likely infectious to others.




Laura Hofmann, MSN, RN – Director of Clinical and Nursing Facility Regulatory Services
c: 425-231-4804