If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, the Employer’s response will vary depending on the nature of the business and the daily responsibilities of its employees. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), there is generally no need to shut down a business facility just because an employee tests positive for COVID-19. However, Employers are responsible for responding to and informing employees of hazards in the workplace, which may include COVID-19 concerns.
Best Practices for Employers if an employee tests positive for COVID-19:
1. Ensure that the Infected Employee is Quarantined and Determine Potential Exposure to Other Employees.
An employer should gather information on employees who had close contact with the infected employee. For COVID-19, close contact is defined as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or for asymptomatic persons, 2 days prior to a positive test) until the time the person is isolated.
2. Communicating with Your Employees
• The CDC recommends informing employees who had close contact about their potential exposure to COVID-19. Be sure to maintain confidentiality regarding the infected employee as required by the ADA.
• Instruct the employees who had close contact to quarantine for 14 days and to self-monitor their symptoms.
• Symptomatic employees should not return to work until they are cleared by medical provider.
3. Clean the Facility.
• Close off areas used for prolonged periods of time by the infected person and wait 24 hours or as long as practical before cleaning and disinfecting the area. Make sure to wear personal protective equipment when cleaning and disinfecting the area.
• If it has been more than 7 days since the person with suspected/confirmed COVID-19 visited or used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary.