Coronavirus Close-Up Dominant

Amid the uncertainty with the current COVID-19 pandemic, recommendations and requirements from the CDC, the Department of Health in Citrus County as well as the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (FDBPR), here are some insights to help the public understand what rules and recommendations are to be followed.

What happens when an employee at a business tests positive for COVID-19? Aren’t they required to shut down for a specific period of time?

No, according to Audrey Stasko, spokeswoman for the Department of Health in Citrus County.

“We would do an investigation,” she explained. If necessary, it would be done in conjunction with the FDBPR. “We take it as a regular case; we go first to the individual, let them know they’re positive and work to find out who their close contacts are. The only reason we’d reach out to the employer, is because they don’t know who the employees they were in close contact with or their phone number.”

According to the CDC, businesses should:

• Close off areas used by a sick person and do not use these areas until after cleaning and disinfecting them.

• Wait at least 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible. Ensure safe and correct use and storage of cleaning and disinfection products external icon, including storing them securely away from children.

• In accordance with state and local laws, restaurant and bar operators should notify local health officials and staff immediately of any case of COVID-19 among employees, while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)external icon.

• Advise those who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms, and follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop. Critical infrastructure workers may refer to CDC Guidance for Critical Infrastructure Workers, if applicable.

When is it safe for an employee who has tested positive for COVID-19 to return to work?

It has been at least 10 days since they tested positive and they are showing no symptoms, they are then cleared to return to work, Stasko said. While the CDC had recommended those employees have two tests yielding negative results within 24 hours of each, the time it is taking to process tests and receive results, the CDC has opted for the measure of waiting 10 days without symptoms.

What if I feel like I’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and haven’t received my test results?

Close contact is defined as 6 feet or less and 15 minutes or more. If you think you have been exposed, recommendation is to stay home for 14 days. If they haven’t shown symptoms during that two-week period, Stasko said those employees can return to work.

Aren’t employees at restaurants, hair salons and such required to wear face masks?

No, according to a spokesman with the FDPBR. But it has led to confusion, they explained. The two requirements they are to follow are social distancing guidelines and capacity limits.

Face makes, the spokesman said, is a recommendation. Though CDC guidelines state businesses should require the use of cloth face coverings among all staff, as feasible. “Face coverings are most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult,” https://tinyurl.com/y6tfkl3z states.

For a complete list of requirements for businesses pursuant to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order, visit https://tinyurl.com/y6enefcs.

As a business, what measures should I take to keep employees and the public safe?

• Conduct a thorough hazard assessment to determine if workplace hazards are present, or are likely to be present, and determine what type of controls or PPE are needed for specific job duties.

• Encourage workers to wear a cloth face covering at work if the hazard assessment has determined that they do not require PPE, such as a respirator or medical facemask for protection.

• Ensure ventilation systems operate properly and provide acceptable indoor air quality for the current occupancy level for each space.

• Improve central air filtration to the MERV-13 or the highest compatible with the filter rack, and seal edges of the filter to limit bypass.

• Check filters to ensure they are within service life and appropriately installed.

• Keep systems running longer hours, 24/7 if possible, to enhance air exchanges in the building space.

• Employees who have symptoms should notify their supervisor and stay home.

• Sick employees should follow CDC-recommended steps. Employees should not return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with healthcare providers.

• Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and follow CDC recommended precautions.

Consider conducting daily in-person or virtual health checks (e.g., symptom and/or temperature screening) of employees before they enter the facility, in accordance with state and local public health authorities and, if available, your occupational health services:

• If implementing in-person health checks, conduct them safely and respectfully. Employers may use social distancing, barrier or partition controls, or personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect the screener. However, reliance on PPE alone is a less effective control and is more difficult to implement, given PPE shortages and training requirements.

• Implement flexible worksites (e.g., telework).

• Implement flexible work hours (e.g., rotate or stagger shifts to limit the number of employees in the workplace at the same time).

• Increase physical space between employees at the worksite by modifying the workspace.

• Increase physical space between employees and customers (e.g., drive-through service, physical barriers such as partitions).

• Provide tissues and no-touch trash cans.

• Provide soap and water in the workplace. If soap and water are not readily available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained.

• Ideally, place touchless hand sanitizer stations in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene.

— Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention