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Negative COVID-19 test not required for staff to return to work


Irving, Texas. June 30, 2020

Dallas County has seen a spike in the number of residents who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and the numbers are expected to climb even higher as more individuals line up for testing. In an effort to ensure there is adequate testing capacity, officials with Parkland Health & Hospital System are reminding businesses that unless they are a hospital or healthcare organization they cannot require a negative test result in order for an employee to return to work if they have recovered from COVID-19.

The Supplemental Order of County Judge Clay Jenkins on continuing requirements after expiration of stay home, stay safe order dated June 16, 2020, states: “Employers shall not implement any rules making a negative COVID-19 test or a note from a healthcare provider before a COVID-19 recovered employee can return to work.” It further states that, “This provision does not apply to hospitals or healthcare workers following the CDC’s test-based strategy for return to work criteria for healthcare personnel with confirmed COVID-19.”

“Parkland has seen instances where large employers have sent dozens of staff to drive-through testing sites who said they need a negative test result to return to work,” said Herron Mitchell, Director of Operations-East Region for the Population Health Division at Parkland. “This goes against the court order and limits the availability of tests for people who have experienced symptoms or a potential exposure to COVID-19.”

Mitchell added, “We appreciate that businesses are trying to address concerns of employees and customers, but Dallas County has a limited daily testing capacity at our drive-up sites and that capacity must be used for people who really need the tests.”

If companies want to encourage all of their employees to get tested regardless of symptoms or exposure, they should identify a private testing facility to provide tests either on a case-by-case basis or as part of a contractual relationship. The city, county and federal testing sites should not be used for that purpose.

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