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Samaritan Chief Medical Officer Letter to Local Employers

By Robert Turngren, MD

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic we have treated COVID-19 positive patients in our hospitals and clinics. More recently, we have been receiving requests from patients’ employers for two negative COVID-19 tests before those patients/employees can return to work. 

Samaritan, in accordance with guidance from the Oregon Health Authority, advises employers to use a time-based, return-to-work strategy and advises against requiring tests to return to work for the vast majority of our patients. This time-based strategy advises patients with COVID-19 to return to work if 10 days have passed since the onset of symptoms and at least 3 days have passed since symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath have resolved – that’s 3 days symptom-free. If the patient did not have symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19, they are advised to return to work after 10 days have passed from the initial positive test. 

Requiring negative COVID-19 tests to return to work consumes precious resources such as tests and personal protective equipment that are in short supply. 

Employers are encouraged to share basic precautions with staff to help avoid spreading illness:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover mouth and nose with tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home while sick and avoid close contact with others.
  • Wear a face covering in public settings, especially in any setting where consistently maintaining physical distance from people outside your household is difficult

You and your staff can stay informed about coronavirus by getting information from trusted sources such as the Oregon Health Authority. For information specific to Samaritan, visit

We are all in this together to help keep our communities healthy. We appreciate your support in helping to make this process as smooth as possible.
Robert Turngren, MD
Senior Vice President/Chief Medical Officer
Samaritan Health Services