On Friday April 10, The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidance for the steps “critical businesses” should take when one of their workers is potentially exposed to COVID-19.
This additional guidance supplemented the “Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” issued a few weeks ago. While this guidance was issued specifically for employers of “critical infrastructure workers” this guidance should be followed by any business that has deemed itself to be “essential” and has chosen to remain in operation.
According to the new guidance, if an employee becomes sick during the day, they should be sent home immediately. Surfaces in their workspace should be cleaned and disinfected. Employers should keep track of who the sick employee came into contact with, while they were symptomatic and two days prior to that. Anyone who was within six feet of that individual during that period should be considered exposed.
The CDC says that critical infrastructure workers may continue working after potential exposure to the virus, as long as they're asymptomatic and additional precautions are taken. Those include:
- Pre-Screening: Employers should measure the employee's temperature and assess symptoms prior to them starting work – ideally, before they enter the facility. Preferably, temperature checks should happen before the individual enters the facility.
- Regular Monitoring: As long as the employee doesn't have a temperature or symptoms, they should self-monitor under the supervision of their employer's occupational health program.
- Wear a Mask: The employee should wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after last exposure. Employers can issue facemasks or can approve employees' supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages.
- Social Distancing: The employee should maintain six feet and practice social distancing as work duties permit in the workplace.
- Disinfecting and Cleaning Work Spaces: Clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas and shared electronic equipment routinely.
Additionally, the CDC provides the following considerations:
- Employees should not share headsets or other objects that are near the mouth or nose
- Employers should increase the frequency of cleaning commonly touched surfaces
- Employees and employers should consider pilot testing the use of facemasks to ensure they do not interfere with work assignments
- Employers should work with facility maintenance staff to increase air exchanges in room
- Employees should physically distance when they take breaks together, as well as stagger breaks, don’t congregate in the breakroom, and don’t share food or utensils
The CDC created a handout that employers may, but are not required, to provide employees.
For more resources and LP's response to COVID-19, visit this webpage.