CDC Issues Interim Guidance for Critical Infrastructure Workers with Potential Exposure
April 16, 2020 — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued interim guidance for how employers should handle situations in which critical infrastructure workers have had a potential exposure to COVID-19 but remain asymptomatic.
Under this guidance, a “potential exposure” means a household contact or having close contact within 6 feet of an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. The timeframe for having contact with an individual includes the period of time of 48 hours before the individual became symptomatic.
To ensure continuity of operations of essential functions, the CDC advises that such workers may be permitted to continue work following a potential exposure, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.
These precautions include the following:
- Pre-Screen: Employers should measure the employee’s temperature and assess symptoms prior to them starting work. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before the individual enters the facility.
- Regular Monitoring: As long as the employee doesn’t have a temperature or symptoms, he or she 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 Distance: The employee should maintain 6 feet and practice social distancing as work duties permit in the workplace.
- Disinfect and Clean Work Spaces: Routinely clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, and shared electronic equipment.
If the employee becomes sick during the day, they should be sent home immediately. Surfaces in their workspace should be cleaned and disinfected. Information on persons who had contact with the ill employee during the time the employee had symptoms, and 2 days prior to symptoms, should be compiled. Others at the facility with close contact within 6 feet of the employee during this time would be considered exposed.
As employers implement these practices, they should remember their confidentiality obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. For example, employers should not share the identity of an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, or is suspected to be positive, without authorization. Likewise, any records of high bodily temperatures and other symptoms should be treated as sensitive medical information and kept in a separate, confidential record outside of an individual’s personnel file.
Employers should continue to monitor the CDC’s website for further updated guidance as the situation continues to progress.
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