COVID-19 Continues to Spread in Community -- What to Do if You or Your Employee Gets Ill

Submitted by gallagha on Fri, 12/18/2020 - 15:53



MAYVILLE, N.Y.:  COVID-19 infections continue to rise in the Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania regions.  This level of community spread puts an even greater onus on individuals to protect themselves and others from illness.  There is no doubt that mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.


Community spread such as we’re experiencing also means that the sheer volume of new cases is making it difficult for public health staff to immediately contact all those who test positive and provide education and do contact tracing.  Also, quite often, the patient receives their test result from their health care provider much sooner than the Health Department receives test results from the state’s reporting system.  


“One doesn’t need to wait for a call from the Health Department to take action to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Christine Schuyler, County Public Health Director.  “To help us reduce the spread of infection, we want people to know what to do if they develop COVID-19 symptoms, test positive for COVID-19, or are a close contact of someone who tests positive.” 


If you are sick:

  • Stay home except to get medical care;
  • Isolate yourself from other members of your household to prevent spread to them; and
  • Get care immediately if you are having emergency warning signs such as trouble breathing or pain or pressure in your chest.


If you get tested for COVID-19:

  • Isolate yourself from others while waiting for your test result if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19; and
  • If you are an essential worker, you can only return to work if you have your employer’s permission to do so, you do NOT have symptoms, and you have not had contact with a person infected with COVID-19. You must wear appropriate PPE including a mask, practice social distancing, monitor for symptoms and fever.


If you test positive and you have COVID-19 symptoms:

  • You must isolate for 10 days from the day your first symptoms started.
  • You were able to spread COVID-19 starting TWO DAYS BEFORE your first symptoms started. Please notify anyone that you’ve had close contact with that they may have been exposed. This helps limit the spread of the disease.

If you test positive and you have not had COVID-19 symptoms:

  • You must isolate for 10 from the date you were tested for COVID-19.
  • You were able to spread the disease starting TWO DAYS before your COVID-19 test was taken. Please notify anyone that you’ve had close contact with that they may have been exposed. This helps limit the spread of the disease.


Who is a close contact?

A close contact is defined as any of the following interactions:

  • Having direct physical contact with someone (e.g. hug, kiss, handshake);
  • Being within 6 feet of someone for 10 minutes total in a day;
  • Having contact with an infected person’s respiratory secretions (e.g. coughed/sneezed on, contact with dirty tissue, sharing a drinking glass, food, towels, or other personal items); or
  • Living with or spending the night with someone.


What do I tell my close contacts?

  • Close contacts need to quarantine in their home, away from others, for 14 days, beginning the last day they were exposed to you.
  • This should be done even if your contact receives a negative test during their quarantine period because they could develop symptoms 2 to 14 days after being exposed.
  • Let your contact know that they may receive a call from Public Health to ask questions and offer additional information. Please ask your contact to answer the phone call from “NYS Contact Tracing” (518-387-9993). It is confidential and private.


COVID-19 in the Workplace:

  • All businesses in New York State were required to submit a reopening plan and need to screen employees and be prepared to manage cases of COVID-19 in the workforce.  The CDC has a great deal of information on its website regarding suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the workplace. Please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/general-business-faq.html to get many of your questions answered. 


General FAQ’s from the CDC:

Q: What should I do if an employee comes to work with COVID-19 symptoms?

A: They should immediately be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors and sent home.


Q: What should I do if an employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19?

A: In most cases, you do not need to shut down your facility. But do close off any areas used for prolonged periods of time by the sick person:

  • Wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting to minimize potential for other employees being exposed to respiratory droplets. If waiting 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
  • Follow the CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations
  • Employers should determine which employees may have been exposed to the virus and need to take additional precautions:
    • If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
    • Employees who test positive for COVID-19 infection will be excluded from work and must remain in home isolation except to seek medical care.
    • Employers will need to work with the Health Department to determine which employees may have had close contact with the employee with COVID-19 and who may need to be quarantined.
      • An employee deemed as critical to infrastructure who is symptom-free may be able to work while in quarantine and must wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after last exposure. 
      • Employees not considered exposed should self-monitor for symptoms. If they develop symptoms, they should notify their supervisor and stay home.


Stop the spread of COVID-19:  Wear a mask; maintain a social distance of 6 feet; wash your hands often.



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