With the recent increase of cases in Brazos County, the Brazos County Health District has received many questions regarding COVID-19 positive cases and what employer’s responsibilities are to their employees and customers to keep them safe. Below is a list of those questions/answers:
What to do if I have had a positive case at my business?
- Identify all employees who may have had close contact with the positive case
- Do not allow an employee or contractor with known close contact to a person who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19 to return to work until the end of the 14 day self-quarantine period from the last date of exposure. For COVID-19, a 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 patients, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/contact-tracing/contact-tracing-plan/contact-tracing.html)
- You should thoroughly sanitize the area where the positive employee was working.
- If you are not already, beginning conducting a health screening of all employees so that other employees who were not close contacts remain healthy as they are working.
- You should follow company guidelines on how to notify other employees of the positive case. You cannot release personal information due to HIPAA laws. You are required to notify close contacts, so that they can begin self-quarantining, but should not release the name of the positive case. The business may choose to make a general statement to all employees that there was a positive case and all close contacts have been notified.
If I send close contacts of the COVID-19 positive employee home, what should they be doing while they are self-quarantining for 14 days from their last contact with the positive case?
- They should monitor themselves daily for symptoms
- If they have a thermometer, they should check and record their temperature twice a day.
- Contact a healthcare provider immediately if they:
- Feel feverish or have a temperature of 100.4⁰F or higher
- Develop a cough or shortness of breath
- Develop mild symptoms like sore throat, muscle aches, tiredness, or diarrhea
- Avoid contact with high-risk individuals (unless they live in the same home and had the same exposure).
- Do not go out to public locations or interact with individuals outside their residence.
- If they cannot socially distance from other members of the residence, it is recommended they wear a cloth face mask to reduce the chance of transmission.
What are the proactive things I can do to prevent close contact with employees at my business?
- Conduct a daily health screening to monitor employees and exclude those who are showing any symptoms of COVID-19
- Social distance as much as possible at the workplace
- When social distancing is not possible, all parties should properly wear a cloth face mask to protect others. This will help prevent the transmission of disease where a future positive case passes it on while they are asymptomatic.
- Frequently wash and sanitize hands – being careful not to touch your face.
- Educate your employees to not only follow these practices in their work lives but also in their personal lives as they are shopping, meeting with friends, attending functions, etc.
- For the protocols and guidelines businesses should be following as they are opening and conducting business you can go to the Operation Restart page at the BCHD website: http://brazoshealth.org/operationrestart