Earlier this week, the CDC issued updated, interim guidance for “critical infrastructure” employees, who were previously directed to stay home for 14 days if they were exposed to someone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVD-19. This new guidance focuses on precautionary measures in the workplace in order to "to ensure continuity of essential functions." Now critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community. These practices are as follows:
- Pre-Screen: Employers should measure the employee’s temperature and assess symptoms prior to them starting work. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before the individual enters the facility.
- Regular Monitoring: As long as the employee doesn’t have a temperature or symptoms, they should self-monitor under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program.
- Wear a Mask: The employee should wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after last exposure. Employers can issue facemasks or can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages.
- Social Distance: The employee should maintain 6 feet and practice social distancing as work duties permit in the workplace.
- Disinfect and Clean Work Spaces: Clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment routinely.
The CDC guidance states that if the employee becomes sick during the day, they should be sent home immediately. Surfaces in their workspace should be cleaned and disinfected. Information on persons who had contact with the ill employee during the time the employee had symptoms and 2 days prior to symptoms should be compiled. Others at the facility with close contact within 6 feet of the employee during this time would be considered exposed.
The interim guidance also contains the following additional considerations:
- Employees should not share headsets or other objects that are near mouth or nose.
- Employers should increase the frequency of cleaning commonly touched surfaces.
- Employees and employers should consider pilot testing the use of face masks to ensure they do not interfere with work assignments.
- Employers should work with facility maintenance staff to increase air exchanges in room.
- Employees should physically distance when they take breaks together. Stagger breaks and don’t congregate in the break room, and don’t share food or utensils.