On April 8, 2020, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) provided updated guidance for COVID-19 exposed employees for essential businesses, such as groceries, hospitals, and first responders. Previously, the CDC recommended that any worker exposed to someone suspected of having COVID-19 isolate at home for 14 days, lest they become sick and infect others. The strategy was to lessen the possible exposure and spread of COVID-19 exposure other workers. However, the unintended consequence of this strategy was the impact on essential businesses, requiring more and more workers to self-isolate. This in turn, creates workforce shortages in multiple essential industries. As a result, the CDC is making recommendations for essential businesses to continue operations with updated guidance for essential workers.
The CDC’s new guidance advises that critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community. A potential exposure is defined as being either a household contact, or having close contact within six feet of an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. In addition, the close contact must have occurred within 48 hours before the individual became symptomatic.
Guidance for asymptomatic employees includes: temperate pre-screening before entering the workplace, regular monitoring throughout the day, wearing masks or face covering for 14 days after potential exposure, and social distancing where work duties permit. Employers should continue to disinfect and clean common work spaces such as bathrooms, breakrooms, and routinely shared electronic equipment.
If you have additional questions, please contact one of the members of the Employment Law Service Group.