Important changes for employers and medical providers
The Knox County Health Department (KCHD) will prioritize case investigations, monitoring and contact tracing based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations. These recommendations are also being implemented by the Tennessee Department of Health.
Moving forward, KCHD will:
- Prioritize case investigations and contact tracing for those who KCHD is notified of within six days of the individual’s diagnosis.
- For diagnosis dates older than six days, KCHD will continue interviewing all cases 18 years and younger and 60 years and older. KCHD will continue to investigate all of the cases in the aforementioned age categories in an effort to reach the two priority populations the CDC recommends. Those populations include those at high risk for poor outcomes and those at highest risk to be in a congregate setting, such as a school or a long-term care facility.
Because of this, not all new cases will get a call from the health department. To best reduce the risk of transmission, KCHD is urging the public to adhere to the following guidance:
All positive patients should immediately isolate upon learning of their positive test result and notify their close contacts of the need to quarantine. They should NOT wait on a call from public health to take action. Additionally, anyone who gets tested for COVID-19 should isolate until their results come back. KCHD encourages everyone to visit its website for resources regarding isolation/quarantine guidelines and a link to TDH’s calculator, which can determine an appropriate timeline for the isolation/quarantine period.
It’s critical that those providing COVID-19 testing in the community provide their patients with the isolation and quarantine guidance on KCHD’s website if patients test positive for COVID-19 or if they are a close contact to a confirmed case. If they test positive, providers should encourage their patients to immediately isolate and begin to notify their close contacts of the need to quarantine.
KCHD will no longer be able to provide proof of quarantine or ‘return-to-work’ letters for everyone. Because of this, it is incredibly important that individuals take personal responsibility and employers use their standard infection control procedures to implement proper safety precautions. By following this guidance, businesses can also supplement the contact tracing process by conducting it within their organization. Individuals identified as a confirmed case, or a close contact, should refrain from reporting to work or other activities until their isolation/quarantine period is over.
Employees: If your employer requests a ‘return-to-work’ letter, this KCHD document can be used to explain the process changes listed above and why such letters will not be provided moving forward.
Close contact is defined as being within six feet of someone for more than 15 cumulative minutes over a 24-hour period. The public may visit KCHD’s website for more information or call KCHD’s Public Information Line at 865-215-5555 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.