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How to Respond to Positive COVID-19 Cases in the Workplace


Businesses are coping with a wide range of challenges in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, including what to do should an employee get sick. The fact is you never know if and when an employee may test positive for COVID-19, which is why it’s important to cement a plan ahead of time.  

Guidance for Employers

Employers need to act quickly if one of their employees tests positive for COVID-19 to minimize the risk of the disease spreading. Consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for resources for businesses and workplaces. Steps in your response plan should at a minimum include the following:

  • Work with the sick employee to identify a list of close contacts at the workplace. The CDC defines close contact as being within six feet of a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes.
  • In addition to length of exposure, symptoms and the type of interaction (e.g., did the person cough directly into the face of the individual) should also be considered.
  • As needed, communicate details about the case to the Department of Health so they may provide guidance and assistance.
  • Send home any identified close contacts. Instruct them to stay home for 14 days and be tested.
  • Taking into account the characteristics of the workplace and the results of contact investigations, determine if all employees in the facility should be tested.
  • Update your staff on the situation and the actions you are taking.
  • In your communications with close contacts and other staff, do not reveal the sick employee’s identity. Confidentiality is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Thoroughly disinfect the workplace according to CDC guidelines, or schedule cleaning and sanitation by a professional sanitation company. Determine if the facility should be closed for the cleaning and when it will reopen. Click here for CDC cleaning and sanitation guidelines.
  • Keep in touch with sick employees to see how they are doing. Instruct them to consult with a healthcare provider to determine when it is safe to return to work.