The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently changed its definition of “close contact” to determine potential exposure to COVID-19 (coronavirus). “Close contact” is now defined as a combined total of 15 minutes within a 24-hour period within six feet of someone infected with the virus. Previously, close contact was defined as a continuous period of at least 15 minutes near someone with the virus. The “infected” period starts two days before symptoms began, or two days prior to the person getting a COVID test that turned out positive. Close contact with someone who’s infected is considered an exposure to the virus even if one or both people were wearing face coverings.
The CDC website for businesses and workplaces continues to be a primary resource for employers operating during this pandemic. The website is updated frequently as more is learned about preventing the spread of the virus and strategies for addressing the pandemic continue to evolve. To determine what has changed recently, check their “What’s New” page.
Tips: Be sure to update your safety precautions, exposure control plan, contact tracing procedures, and employee health screening procedures to reflect this change in the risk for potential exposure. Employees who have been exposed to COVID-19 or have any symptoms of the virus should be directed to seek medical attention as soon as possible. You can allow employees to return to work based on current CDC guidance (generally, when at least 14 days have passed since the last known exposure, or when fever-free with other symptoms improving and at least 10 days have passed since symptoms began). Employees should also be allowed to return to work when released by their health care provider. Requiring a negative COVID-19 test before they can return to work is not recommended.
For questions about appropriate safety precautions or how to modify your exposure control plan, please contact your Vigilant safety professional. Your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney can assist you with questions about sick or exposed employees, leave benefits, and when it’s appropriate for employees to return to work.