What To Do if an Employee Tests Positive or is Exposed to COVID

How do you feel about the word guidelines? Because I feel like you are going to be sick of it by the time you finish reading this. CDC guidelines, HIPAA guidelines, I am comin’ atcha with all of the guidelines for what to do if an employee is exposed to COVID or comes down with it themselves. Also, I apologize in advance for all of the links I am throwing your way, I want to keep this to some basic, well… guidelines, while also providing you with access to more valuable information that some of you might need.

POTENTIAL EXPOSURE

First off, what is a potential exposure? The CDC says a potential exposure is when someone in your employee’s household is diagnosed with or has symptoms of COVID or your employee has been within six feet of someone who has developed symptoms within 48 hours of contact. Read that twice, please, I had to. CDC guidelines say that an exposed employee should quarantine for 14 days if possible. They can work from home in that time if that is possible.

If your business is essential and your workers are critical, the CDC says that they can return to work after a potential exposure by adhering to the following guidelines:

  • Daily temperature pre-screening, preferably before they come onto the premises
    • Self-monitoring of symptoms
    • Wearing a mask at all times while in the workplace
    • Maintaining social distancing at all times while in the workplace
    • Routinely cleaning and disinfecting all work and common areas per CDC guidelines

SYMPTOMS OR A POSITIVE TEST       

So what happens if an employee comes down with symptoms or tests positive? First off, if they are at work when symptoms appear, they should go home immediately. Any areas the employee used for a prolonged period of time should be closed off, if at all possible, for 24 hours before being cleaned and disinfected.

The CDC says that a positive test or doctor’s note should not be required for quarantine due to how busy providers are and the length of time it can take to get a test result. Fellow employees should be informed of their potential exposure while HIPAA guidelines are also adhered to. In short, don’t tell anyone the name of the person with symptoms. More information on your requirements under HIPAA can be found here.

An employee can return to work after they have met CDC requirements to discontinue home isolation.

Hopefully none of you have to deal with any of this, but I am sure it is something you think about regularly. As always, if you have any questions, I am here for you. If these guidelines change as more information becomes available, I will keep you up to date on Instagram or my Facebook page. Be sure to follow me so I can keep you informed on the latest updates to any of these guidelines!

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMERS:
1. The information above does not constitute legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult your attorney with specific questions.
2. As this situation is constantly changing, we will make every effort to stay current on this topic, however this information is provided as general guidance and may not apply to your situation, nor should it be relied upon exclusively. Please consult and confirm with your attorney if you have questions about these updates or their applicability.  
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