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Guidelines for reporting COVID-19 cases in the workplace

July 24, 2020 27924

As COVID-19 cases continue to increase across the state, CDA Practice Support has received several inquiries from members seeking guidance on what to do if an employee is diagnosed with the virus, is experiencing symptoms or has been exposed to the virus.

The following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides step-by-step instructions on employee management and reporting requirements.

Employee reports exposure to symptomatic or COVID-19-positive individual

If an employee has been around an individual who is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive:

  • Employers should record the date of exposure and determine if there was close contact.
  • If there was not close contact between the employee and individual, the employee can continue to work and should self-monitor for 14 days.
  • If the employee was in close contact with the individual, the employee should be advised to return home and self-monitor for 14 days while seeking a diagnosis from a health care provider.

Close contact is established if the employee was within 6 feet of the infected or symptomatic person or was exposed for 15 minutes without wearing PPE approved by NIOSH or CDC. If patients had no close contact with an employee with a suspected exposure, symptoms or positive test for COVID-19, patient notification is not required. Only inform individuals who have had close contact.

Employee reports symptoms

If an employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, employers should:

  • Record the date of the report and symptoms.
  • Advise employee to self-monitor at home for 14 days, to contact a health care provider for testing and to notify the practice of the results.

Positive COVID-19 results

If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, employers should:

  • Notify the local health department and follow its instructions.
  • Advise the employee to remain home, to contact a health care provider and to notify the practice of the results.

Determining whether a practice should close depends on if it can be operated in the absence of the quarantined employees.

Employees who have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine for reasons related to COVID-19 may be eligible for up to two weeks of emergency paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Employers can use CDA’s FFCRA Documentation Checklist to determine an employee’s eligibility.

COVID-19 may be considered a serious illness under the Cal/OSHA regulation and must be reported to Cal/OSHA if the illness occurs in the dental practice. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19 and believes they contracted it at work, employers are advised to contact their workers’ compensation carrier.

Returning to work after a COVID-19 diagnosis

CDC issued updated return-to-work criteria July 17, which states that employers should not require a sick employee to provide a negative COVID-19 test result or a health care provider’s note to return to work.

Employees with COVID-19 who have self-quarantined can return to work when:

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared .
  • At least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • Other symptoms have improved.

Employees with severe to critical illness or who are severely immunocompromised may return when at least 20 days have passed since symptoms first appeared, in addition to the above criteria.

The California Department of Public Health provides “COVID-19 Workplace Outbreak Employer Guidance” that includes additional notification and reporting requirements. Members can also use the “Reporting symptoms/positive test for COVID-19 flowchart” in the CDA Back to Practice resource center for guidance.

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