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What You Should do If You’ve Been Exposed to COVID-19 at Work

Jun 29, 2020

Healthcare practitioners are on the front line of taking care of people with infectious diseases. During this pandemic triggered by SARS-CoV-2, it's important to ensure the health and safety of essential health care workers and follow CDC guidelines to keep staff and patients safe.  

Let's explore some of the recommendations from the CDC and how they may impact you.  

How Do You Know If You've Been Exposed?  

A person is potentially exposed when they have had close contact, within 6 feet, of a person who has either suspected COVID-19 or has been tested and has a confirmed case. The most crucial period begins 48 hours before the infected person became symptomatic.   

The CDC recommends critical workers who have been exposed but are asymptomatic, should use specific practices before coming to work and during their work shift to reduce the spread of a potential infection. Researchers are finding the highest risk for spreading disease is through close contact over a period of time.  

Monitor coming to work 

Employers should measure employees' temperature and ask about symptoms before every shift. Ideally, the employer will take the employee's temperature just prior to entering the facility. Any individual with a fever or with symptoms must be sent home. As long as they don't have a fever or symptoms, they should self-monitor during their shift.   

Anyone who becomes sick during the day should go home immediately, and surfaces in their workspace should be cleaned and disinfected. Employers are then encouraged to gather a list of individuals who had close contact with them beginning 2 days before symptoms began. These people will then be considered exposed and should follow the same strategies for reducing the spread of the virus.   

Masks 

Any employee who has been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 should wear a mask for 14 days after their last exposure while in the workplace. The CDC recommends employers either issue a face mask or approve one the employee brings from home.  

Distance 

Any employee who has had a known exposure should practice social distancing as their duties permit in the workplace.   

Disinfect and clean in adamant workspaces 

The CDC recommends employers clean and disinfect bathrooms, common areas, and shared electronic equipment routinely. While the virus is known to spread through respiratory droplets, the CDC believes it is not commonly spread by touching an inanimate object and then touching your face. However, since it is safest to err on the side of caution, they recommend cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, such as doorknobs, telephone handles, computer keyboards, and desktops.   

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