Week 94: What if I test positive for COVID?

This week’s message will focus on what you should do if you test positive for COVID. The messages can be confusing and sometimes contradictory. I am here to help guide you through the process.

First, thank you all for continuing to test weekly at Harvard, sometimes multiple times each week. Second, thank you for staying home if you do not feel well whether it be COVID or not. We have had some staff test positive during the break and delay their return to the office. With the increased prevalence of the variant, it is inevitable it seems that many Americans will test positive for COVID during this surge. So, importantly, do not feel guilt, shame, or embarrassment. There is nothing you did wrong. We have been asked “what should I do if I test positive?”

When a Countway staff member tests positive, I get notified by EHS. Often the employee reaches out to me as well. I will receive guidance from EHS on what to do. In these cases, staff were on break and did not test positive at work so there was no close encounter with anyone else. If there should be close encounter in the future, my conversations with Carl Cowan, the Associate Director of Emergency Management, indicate other staff would be asked to test more often that week but not isolate unless they have symptoms. The staff member who is positive is required to stay home for five days (symptoms or not). After the five days, if staff are feeling well, they may return to onsite work and must keep their mask on. If the staff member does not feel well, they should remain offsite another five days or until they feel better. Staff should indicate on their time sheets COVID sick. Staff who have tested positive do not test for another 90 days. If you are still feeling unwell after the 10 days, work with HR to figure out what your options are regarding additional paid absences.

Also, if you do not feel well and take an at-home test and test positive, please notify HUHS. HUHS will give you instructions similar to above. They may ask you if when you feel up to it, to return a PCR test to campus. They will also ask you who your close contacts were and will notify them.

Finally, if you do not feel well and out for the 5 or 10 days or longer, don’t feel like you are obligated to work remotely. The key is to rest, follow HUHS directions and take care of yourself. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance or point you to available resources during this time. We want you to take the time you need to feel better.