Last Updated: December 9, 2020
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.
Prior to a shift and on days employees are scheduled to work, employees should 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. Because records of health screenings may need to be maintained per OSHA’s Access to Employee Exposure and Medical Records standard (29 CFR § 1910.1020), consider the burdens and benefits of documenting individually identifiable results of entry screenings.
The checklist provided in the VDH Interim Guidance for Daily COVID-19 Screening of Employees (Non-healthcare Workers) can be used to collect this information, if necessary.
People with these symptoms or combinations of these symptoms may have COVID-19*:
*This list does not include all possible symptoms.
**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.
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)?
- A new loss of taste or smell?
Employees should assess themselves for exposure to COVID-19 before reporting to work for each shift. Employees should ask themselves, “YES or NO, have I had the following:”
- A positive test for the virus that causes COVID-19 disease within the past 10 days?
- Close contact (Being within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, or having direct exposure to respiratory secretions) with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
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.
- 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 and employees who test positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 should not return to work until they have met CDC’s criteria to discontinue home isolation.
- Persons with COVID-19 who never develop symptoms may discontinue isolation and other precautions 10 days after the date of their first positive diagnostic COVID-19 test.
- Persons with COVID-19 symptoms may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:
- At least 10 days§ have passed since symptom onset and
- At least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
- Other symptoms are improving (loss of taste or smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation).
§A limited number of persons with severe illness may produce replication-competent virus beyond 10 days, which may warrant extending the duration of isolation for up to 20 days after symptom onset. Consider consultation with infection control experts.
- People who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 should monitor for symptoms and follow all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions (e.g., wear a mask, avoid crowds, follow social distancing, and wash hands frequently) for 14 days after the last exposure.
- VDH and CDC still recommend that close contacts quarantine (stay home) for 14 days after their last exposure. This is the safest option. If people choose to end quarantine early, there are 2 options:
- Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have developed; OR
- Quarantine can end after Day 7 if a viral test (e.g., PCR or antigen test) performed on or after Day 5 is negative and if no symptoms have developed.
- If the employee becomes sick or tests positive for SARS-CoV-2, then appropriate 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 EPA-approved 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.
- 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.