A potential exposure is a household contact or having close contact (within six feet) with an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, when that contact occurred as early as 48 hours before the individual became symptomatic or while the employee was symptomatic.
If a critical worker had this contact but remains asymptomatic:
The employee may remain at work provided the following precautions are implemented prior to and/or during the work shift:
The CDC also offers additional suggested actions that employers may want to consider, including:
If the employee exhibits symptoms:
The employee should be sent home immediately, surfaces at the workplace should be cleaned and disinfected, and the employer should gather information on the individuals with whom the now symptomatic employee came within six feet within two days prior to and while the employee was exhibiting symptoms.
The foregoing Interim Guidance from the CDC can be helpful to employers of essential workers when determining if they should allow a potentially asymptomatic exposed employee to continue to work. That said, the CDC’s website directs the public to the Department of Homeland Security’s CISA website concerning critical infrastructure employees. On that CISA website, the government recognizes that different jurisdictions may come to different conclusions regarding when special rules should apply to essential workers based on the prevalence of cases of the virus, the “infrastructure activity” and the assets in the area. Accordingly, employers need to keep abreast of the prescriptive actions their state and local officials require when an employee (whether or not an essential employee) is exposed to a potential or actual case of COVID-19.
The Coronavirus Task Force at Klehr Harrison stands ready to assist you in your business and legal needs. We will continue to provide additional information and guidance as the COVID-19 situation develops.
Author Lee D. Moylan is a partner in the Labor & Employment practice group at Klehr Harrison.