Virginia Department of Health Interim Guidance on Screening, Monitoring and Testing Employees Returning to Work: Non-Essential Workforce

Businesses and employers can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by following the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 and the guidance outlining operating requirements in each reopening phase of the Forward Virginia plan.  Forward Virginia requires that businesses must strictly adhere to the physical distancing guidelines, enhanced cleaning and disinfection practices, and enhanced workplace safety practices provided in the “Guidelines for All Business Sectors” document.  Furthermore, businesses must adhere to the guidelines developed specifically for that setting, if applicable.  Executive Orders and Guidelines for all business sectors and specialized guidance for specific sectors can be found on the governor’s website

Screening, monitoring and testing are essential components of limiting the spread of COVID-19 in Virginia. An important part of keeping workers safe is actively encouraging sick employees to stay home if they are ill and emphasizing to all employees the importance of knowing the symptoms of COVID-19.  Employers should also emphasize to employees the importance of notifying their supervisor(s) if they become ill at work and following the CDC guidelines for what to do if they are sick with symptoms of COVID-19.

Screening

Prior to a shift and on days employees are scheduled to work, employers should screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms. Employees should also self-monitor their symptoms by self-taking of temperature to check for fever and using the questions provided in this guidance (below) before reporting to work.  

For employers with established occupational health programs, employers can consider measuring temperature and assessing symptoms of employees prior to starting work/before each shift. Temperature and symptoms (or absence of symptoms) may be documented each day. The form provided as Attachment 1 (Daily Employee Screening Form) can be used to collect this information, if necessary. 

People with these symptoms or combinations of these symptoms may have COVID-19: 

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever (CDC considers a person to have a fever when he or she has a measured temperature of 100.4oF or greater, feels warm to the touch, or gives a history of feeling feverish)
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

This list is not all possible symptoms. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

COVID-19 Screening Protocol: Employee self-check of health
Employees should assess themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 before reporting to work for each shift. Employees should ask themselves: “YES or NO since my last day of work, have I had any of the following:”

  • A new fever (100.4°F or higher) or a sense of having a fever?
  • A new cough that cannot be attributed to another health condition?
  • New shortness of breath that cannot be attributed to another health condition?
  • New chills that cannot be attributed to another health condition?
  • A new sore throat that cannot be attributed to another health condition?
  • New muscle aches (myalgia) that cannot be attributed to another health condition or specific activity (such as physical exercise)?

If an employee answers YES to any of the screening questions before reporting to work, the employee should stay home and not report to work. 

If an employee reports COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival to work, the employer should activate the emergency protocol for COVID-19.

  • Immediately isolate the ill person from others and ask that person to wear a facemask or cloth face covering.
  • Determine if the person needs medical care.
  • Contact your company’s occupational health program (if available) or supervisor (if applicable).
  • If the person is experiencing any medical emergency or emergency warning signs of COVID-19, including, but not limited to, trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips or face, call 911 and notify the operator that the person might have COVID-19.
  • Most cases of COVID-19 are mild and do not require medical care. In these situations, the ill person can self-isolate at home. If the person is not severely ill, but medical care seems indicated, a healthcare facility OTHER THAN a hospital emergency room should be used (if possible) and contacted prior to arrival.
  • Establish procedures for safely transporting anyone sick to their home or to a healthcare facility.

Additional Resources

VDH Interim Guidance for Daily COVID-19 Screening of Employees and Visitors

CDC FAQs: Reducing the Spread of COVID-19 in Workplaces

Monitoring

  • Employees with symptoms of COVID-19 at home should not come into work.
  • Sick employees should follow CDC recommendations for what to do when illness occurs.   
  • Sick employees should not return to work until they have met CDC’s criteria to discontinue home isolation.
    • Employers should not require sick employees to provide a COVID-19 test result or healthcare provider’s note to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or return to work. Healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely manner.
    • Employees with COVID-19 who have stayed home can stop home isolation and return to work when they have met one of the following sets of criteria:
      • Option 1: If, in consultation with a healthcare provider and local public health authorities knowledgeable about locally available testing resources, it is determined an employee will not have a test to determine if they are still contagious, the employee can leave home and return to work after these three conditions have been met:
        • The employee has had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is, 3 full days of no fever without the use medicine that reduces fevers)
          AND
        • other symptoms have improved (for example, cough or shortness of breath have improved)
          AND
        • at least 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared.
      • Option 2: If, in consultation with a healthcare provider and local public health authorities knowledgeable about locally available testing resources, it is determined the employee will be tested to determine if the employee is still contagious, the employee can leave home after these three conditions have been met:
        • The employee no longer has a fever (without the use of medicine that reduces fevers)
          AND
        • other symptoms have improved (for example, cough or shortness of breath have improved)
          AND
        • they received two negative tests in a row, at least 24 hours apart. Their doctor should follow CDC guidelines.
  • Inform those who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms, and to follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop. 
    • If the employee does not have symptoms, they should follow appropriate CDC guidance for home isolation.
    • If the employee becomes sick, then symptomatic procedures for ending isolation (listed above) should be followed.
  • Close off areas used by a sick person and do not use them until after cleaning and disinfection. Wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting. If it is not possible to wait 24 hours, wait as long as possible. Ensure safe and correct application of disinfectants and keep disinfectant products away from children.
  • Employers should not require sick employees to provide a COVID-19 test result or healthcare provider’s note to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or return to work. Healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely manner. 

Additional Resources

VDH Daily Symptom Monitoring Log

CDC FAQs: Suspected or Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in the Workplace

Testing

  • All employees who have symptoms should be referred to a healthcare provider for diagnostic testing for COVID-19.
  • Testing may be available at your doctor’s office, urgent care center, pharmacy, or other healthcare clinic. To find testing sites in your area, please visit the Virginia COVID-19 Testing Sites website.
  • Please visit VDH COVID-19 Testing for more information.