As COVID-19 continues to spread in communities, please be aware of the risk of visiting different public settings. When deciding whether to go out, consider factors about how COVID-19 spreads in a certain location, including:
- how closely and for how long you will be with other people,
- the number of different people you will be with,
- how well an area is ventilated, and
- whether other people will be wearing face coverings.
Your own ability to wear a mask and your risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19 may be important to think about as well.
Meat, Poultry, and Seafood Processors
- Meat and Poultry Industry Guidance (VDH) (3/12/2021)
- Summary of Options for Managing COVID-19 Exposed, Asymptomatic Meat and Poultry Plant Workers (3/12/2021)
- Poultry Plant Workers Tested for COVID-19 (VDH) (3/12/2021)
- Poultry Employer Toolkit for COVID-19 (VDH): English, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, Haitian Creole
- Meat and Poultry Industry Guidance (CDC)
- Protecting Seafood Processing Workers from COVID-19 (CDC)
- Guidance for Meat and Seafood Processors (CDC)
Migrant Labor Camps
- Guidance for Food Establishments (VDH)
- Guidance for Food and Grocery Pick-up, Delivery Drivers (CDC)
- Considerations for Restaurants and Bars (CDC)
Public Amusement, Events and Gatherings, and Other Locations
- Considerations for Election Polling Locations and Voters (CDC)
- Considerations for Events and Gatherings (CDC)
- Holiday Celebrations (CDC)
- Considerations for Casinos and Gaming Operations (CDC)
- Aquatic Facilities
- COVID-19 Screening, Monitoring, and Testing of Non-Essential Employees (VDH)
- Evaluating Non-Critical Infrastructure Workers with COVID-19 Symptoms or Exposures (VDH)
- Case Investigation and Contact Tracing in Non-healthcare Workplaces: Information for Employers (CDC)
- Daily COVID-19 Screening of Patrons (VDH) (10/28/20)
- Daily COVID-19 Screening of Employees (Non-healthcare Workers) (VDH) (7/24/20)
- COVID-19 Screening, Monitoring, and Testing of Critical Infrastructure Workers (non-Healthcare) (VDH)
- Symptom Monitoring Log (VDH)
- Guidance for Ending Home Isolation (VDH)
- VDH Guidance for Public Health Prioritization of COVID-19 Point Prevalence Surveys (8/19/20)
- VDH Interim Guidance for Implementing and Defining Roles for Testing Strategies in High-Density Critical Infrastructure Workplaces after a COVID-19 Case is Identified (3/9/21)
- Exposed Critical Infrastructure Workers (CDC)
- Ventilation Best Practices (VDH)
- Cloth Face Coverings Guidance (CDC)
- Businesses and COVID-19 FAQ (VDH).
- Businesses and Employers (CDC)
- Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility (CDC)
- Information about Ventilation (CDC)
- Water Quality in Closed/Reduced-use Buildings (EPA)
- CDC's Resuming Business Toolkit
- CDC's Employer Information for Office Buildings
Online Reporting Portal for COVID-19 Case Reports
The new COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) adopted by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry(DOLI) requires all employers to report outbreaks of COVID-19 to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).
The ETS also provides that “The employer shall notify DOLI within 24 hours of the discovery of three (3) or more employees present at the place of employment within a 14-day period testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus during that 14-day time period.” COVID-19 case reports must be filed through the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) online reporting portal. This portal ensures case reports will meet VDH and DOLI reporting compliance. Up to 10 COVID-19 positive cases may be entered in the portal at once.
Employers no longer need to report single COVID-19 positive cases to VDH, in order to comply with the ETS.
However, after the initial report of outbreak (two or more cases), employers shall continue to report all cases to VDH until the local health department notifies the business that the outbreak has been closed.
After the outbreak is closed, subsequent identification of two or more cases of COVID-19 during a declared emergency shall be reported, as above.
Airborne Transmission of COVID-19
COVID-19 is usually spread through breathing air containing respiratory droplets from someone who has COVID-19. These droplets are large and settle out of air rapidly, so maintaining six feet of distance between yourself and others can help prevent exposure. However, these respiratory droplets can dry out and remain as tiny particles suspended in the air, and breathing them can cause infection. The best way to prevent this is through improving ventilation, taking virus-contaminated air and exhausting it from the building, and replacing it with clean air. There are two routes to improve ventilation, first by making sure your HVAC system is operating properly, and secondly through additional steps to increase ventilation or clean the air.
Tune-Up Your HVAC System
Have your HVAC system inspected and load tested.
HVAC systems are designed to have a certain air turnover rate, but changes to the system (such as closing the damper and closing registers or renovation projects that change air flow) and maintenance problems can reduce air turnover and result in less fresh air entering your building. Having the system inspected can ensure that sufficient fresh air is being brought in from outside and distributed to all areas of the building. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has developed Guidance for Building Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic that may be helpful in optimizing your HVAC system’s operation.
If you have an advanced HVAC system that incorporates CO2 monitoring, make sure that it is not throttling the system when CO2 levels are low. Some HVAC systems are designed to reduce airflow when CO2 levels are low, with the assumption that fewer people are in the building so less ventilation is necessary. However, to reduce COVID-19 risk, we want to reduce the number of people in buildings while keeping ventilation the same.
Use the highest MERV filter recommended by the manufacturer for your system.
Tighter filters are better at capturing small particles in the air that can carry the virus that causes COVID-19. However, tighter filters are also harder to push air through, so using too tight a filter can strain your HVAC’s motor. You should use the highest MERV filter that the manufacturer recommends for your system, and make sure that it is the correct size to avoid air gaps.
Additional Ventilation Options
Open doors and windows for better airflow.
Opening doors and windows can help bring in fresh air, but in some buildings it can cause problems with the HVAC system. If air outside is very warm and humid, it will place more load on the HVAC to cool and dehumidify a larger volume of outdoor air than the system was intended. Cooling of very humid air can create excess condensation and lead to corrosion and mold growth. If you own a business, consult with an HVAC contractor to determine if opening windows and doors would be a good option for your system and under what weather conditions. In your home, opening doors and windows when the weather is mild can air out your home without putting unnecessary stress on your HVAC system.
If you do open doors and windows, take precautions to avoid any unintentional hazards. Occupants, particularly young children, could fall out of an unprotected window. In densely populated cities, building occupants are at greater risk of illnesses associated with poor outdoor air quality. People who have allergies are more susceptible to illness when pollen counts are high.
When opening doors and windows, especially if you are using fans to direct air flow, make sure not to have air blowing rapidly across groups of people. This could cause respiratory droplets that would normally settle out within a few feet to be carried farther through the air and could put others in the group at risk. This was seen recently in an outbreak at a restaurant caused by an air conditioner that blew air across several different tables.
Consider using portable HEPA filters to supplement your HVAC system.
Portable HEPA filters are units that can be moved room to room and have a fan that blows air through a HEPA filter. HEPA filters are very high efficiency filters capable of filtering out the small particles that can carry the virus that causes COVID-19. For adequate filtration, portable HEPA filters should be sized appropriately to the room that they are placed in. Filters must be replaced as recommended by the manufacturer. Avoid air purifiers that are advertised as ionizers. These filters can generate ozone, a gas that causes airway irritation and can trigger asthma attacks.