Employers operating essential businesses are increasingly facing situations where their employees may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. Typically, employers have responded to incidents of exposure by sending employees home for a quarantine period, usually fourteen days. The CDC, however, recently issued new Interim Guidance detailing how employers can keep essential employers working despite their potential exposure to COVID-19.
According to the guidance, a “potential exposure” occurs when an employee comes into household contact or close contact within six feet of an individual who is suspected of or confirmed to have COVID-19. Following such potential exposure, the CDC has advised that employees may continue working provided that (i) the employee remains asymptomatic and (ii) the employee and employer adopt the following precautions:
- Pre-screening of temperature and symptoms of COVID-19 before entering the workplace;
- Self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 under the supervision of the employer’s occupational health program;
- Wearing a mask at all times in the workplace for fourteen days after the potential exposure;
- Social distancing as work duties permit; and
- Increasing the frequency with which they clean and disinfect shared work surfaces.
In the event the employee becomes sick, the employee should be sent home immediately and all surfaces in the employee’s workspace must be cleaned and disinfected. Additionally, the employer should gather information regarding any person who had contact with the sick employee for the two days before the employee became symptomatic. Any employee who came within six feet of the sick employee would then be considered to be exposed and should follow the precautions set forth above in order to continue working.
If you have any questions about any aspect of this new CDC guidance or any other of the many rapid developments related to the coronavirus pandemic, please contact a member of AGG’s Employment Law Team.