COVID-19 testing and workplace leave

Reporter: Michael Hudak Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Empty shelf of at-home COVID-19 testing products. Credit: WINK News

With COVID-19 cases climbing daily and kids returning to school, get ready for a long wait if you or your child need to be tested; there’s a noticeable lack of quick testing options.

WINK News spoke to several testing locations that said it could take to three to five business days to get a testing slot. With the highly infectious delta variant spreading, every day is crucial. The CVS on Cleveland Avenue was all but sold out of its instant testing kits Tuesday, and it won’t be getting another shipment until Thursday, if it even comes.

If you want a free test, you can go to CVS or Walgreens, but appointments are booked several days out. A WINK News producer who tried to book a test just to see how long it would take couldn’t get an appointment until Friday, and according to the CVS website, some testing sites have closed. Lee Health has closed all its drive-through facilities; now, you have to go to one of its three convenient care locations.

You can also get tested at MedExpress, Curative or MyTest Diagnostics, but you will have to pay. As for the health departments, Lee and Collier health departments are both by appointment only. WINK News asked Gov. Ron DeSantis if mass testing sites like the one formerly at CenturyLink will start to make a comeback.

“There’s a whole host of testing, I mean, you go to almost every corner now… this is a major cottage industry, pretty much every retail pharmacy you can get a test very quickly, and I think these are very ubiquitous throughout the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “So we think that’s the way to do it. Just like with vaccinations, we’re not running sites necessarily anymore like we used to, because it’s out in the community. You can go in any drugstore and that’s just that. Yes, sir.”

Thanks to the Family Medical Leave Act, your company cannot fire you for taking time off if you are sick or taking care of a sick family member, though the Act can’t guarantee that you get paid for the time you miss.

According to Pamella Seay, a legal expert at Florida Gulf Coast University, it could allow you to take advantage of vacation time that would otherwise not be available to you.

“However, it is still possible that if you do become ill and you cannot go to work, you may not have a job to go back to,” Seay said. “For example, if you have a part-time job, a part-time job does not normally give you sick time. So that might be a very difficult position for you to be in. It could be a big problem.”

Seay says it’s crucial to check with your employer to see if they have a policy that says you are not to come to work if you test positive for COVID-19. Most employers do, leaving your job secure. In addition, if there is a state or federal mandate for a quarantine that says you are not permitted to go back to work, and you get a positive test, they cannot fire you because you are following a federal or state law.

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