As a business owner and employer, we at Bio SoCal know one of your top priorities is the smooth running of day-to-day affairs and the well-being of your employees. However, with COVID-19 spreading around the world, there is hardly any aspect of life left untouched by the virus. From shopping for groceries, to spending time with friends, to going to work, our lives are vastly different than they were just a few short weeks ago.
One of the issues many employers are now facing is what to do if an employee comes down with COVID-19. With cases steeply climbing, it is a reality many businesses are already having to deal with. Whether you run a small company with just a few employees or an extensive warehouse, the process of taking care of all employees is much the same, albeit on a much wider scale for larger companies.
If An Employee Comes To Work With COVID-19 Symptoms
If an employee comes to work with symptoms associated with COVID-19 or lets you know they have tested positive for the virus, the following steps need to be taken:
- When you first learn an employee has tested positive for CODID-19 or has come down with the symptoms, you need to immediately send them home to quarantine themselves if they are not home or at a medical facility already. There is no need to report the case to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as that is the responsibility of the employee’s healthcare provider.
- Have the employee write out all the names of people they have had close, personal contact with (six feet or less) for as short of time as a few minutes in the last 14 calendar days. You need to then immediately notify everyone on that list that a co-worker has tested positive for COVID-19 and they were listed as someone who shared the same physical space. (Always keep the employee’s name private in order to stay in compliance with confidentiality laws.) Immediately send everyone on this list home to self-quarantine and monitor for any symptoms for the next fourteen days.
- Once everyone affected has been sent home, let all employees know that a co-worker has tested positive for COVID-19 and they, along with all affected co-workers, have already been sent home. If they were not notified, they were not someone who had close contact with the individual in question. Be reassuring to your employees and let them know you are taking every step possible to protect them. If it is possible for people to do their jobs remotely, send home as many as you can to telework in order to cut down on further infections. Keep in mind that this can be scary news to the employees still at work and that they will talk and wonder amongst themselves about who is infected. Explain to them you understand their fears and are there for them if they need to talk. Reassure them you are taking these measures out of an abundance of caution.
- Cordon off all areas the affected employees worked, took breaks, used the restroom, etc. until they can be cleaned and disinfected. A person infected with COVID-19 can pass on the virus through surfaces they’ve touched for as long as several days depending on the type of material.
- Arrange for professional cleaning of all affected areas including the immediate and surrounding work areas, restrooms, and break rooms. Make sure all spaces are cleaned first then disinfected. Without first removing the dirt, dust, and grime from a surface, the disinfectant can’t rid the space of all the viruses present on the materials in question. Professional cleaners with a quality track record in infectious disease cleanup know how to protect themselves and all involved from further infection while making sure your business is safe.
- Continually clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces as a daily prevention practice.
- Have all employees left at the work site continue to monitor themselves for any symptoms.
As the situation with the coronavirus develops and we find new ways of doing business and living our lives, preventing further infection is key to getting back to regular business as quickly as possible. Being a business owner and employer, you can play a key role in creating a calm and healthy environment for yourself and your employees.
For further information, see the CDC’s “Resources for Businesses and Employers.”