MAG encouraging employers to evaluate COVID test/return-to-work policies

The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is encouraging employers in the state to consult with their company physician to determine how they should use “rapid” COVID-19 test results to determine when employees should return to work after they have been exposed to or infected with the virus.

“We have received reports of employers using a negative result from a rapid or antigen COVID test as proof that the employee is COVID-free and that they may safely return to work immediately,” says MAG President Lisa Perry-Gilkes, M.D. F.A.C.S. “But the fact is that the rapid test is not as accurate as a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, especially when it comes to people who are symptom-free.”

Dr. Perry-Gilkes is encouraging employers in the state to consult with their company physician to ensure that they have the appropriate policies and procedures in place when it comes to the application of rapid test results.

She also stresses that primary care physicians are a great source of information for patients who want to determine if they need a COVID test and the best and most appropriate test options for them based on their individual circumstances.

Dr. Perry-Gilkes points out that…

– COVID-19 PCR tests are “the most accurate way to determine if a person has the virus, whether they are symptomatic or not.”

– COVID-19 antigen tests “should only be used as a screening tool when a person has COVID-19 symptoms.”

“So, a negative COVID-19 antigen test result in a person without symptoms does not necessarily mean that it is safe for them to be around their co-workers,” she adds. “The more reliable PCR test may be needed to determine how long they should remain in quarantine after they have exposed to the virus.”

Dr. Perry-Gilkes says that, “Keeping in mind that the test kits are in short supply, people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms and who want to be tested for peace of mind should contact their primary care physician to discuss how they can get a rapid antigen test, which yields an immediate result, and the more comprehensive PCR test, which is sent to a lab and normally takes one to four days to get the results.”

Finally, Dr, Perry-Gilkes emphasizes that, “The best way to protect yourself, your co-workers, and your loved ones is to continue to wear a face covering, practice social distancing, remain isolated to the extent you can, and practice good hygiene practices.”

Georgia DPH ‘COVID-19 testing is available for all Georgians, What does my test result mean?’ summary

CDC ‘When to Quarantine’ COVID-19 web page

CDC ‘COVID-19 Testing’ web page