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What To Do When An Employee Tests Positive For COVID-19?

Sep 15, 2020

1.      If the employee is at your dealership, send the employee home. This is required under Execuive Order 122.

2.      Talk to the employee.

  • When an employee notifies you that he/she has tested positive for COVID-19 or has a suspected case, the dealership needs to learn who the employee has interacted with and where the employee has gone in the dealership. The employee’s answers will guide your next steps. Ask the employee questions, such as:
  • When did you begin to have symptoms?
  • When were you diagnosed?
  • What staff members have you been in contact with in the 14 days before you began to experience symptoms?
  •  Did you have any contact with customers or other third parties? If so, do you know who they were?
  • Did you attend any meetings?
  • Did you talk to any vendors?
  • Did you deliver any vehicles or parts?
  • Tell the employee to stay home. In the case of an employee who has symptoms, but has been unable to get tested, you can still tell the employee to stay home. Regardless of what the employee may be later diagnosed with, you still can tell them to stay home.

3.      Notify employees.   [Updated May 11, 2020]

  • Notify all employees that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19. However, you must not identify the sick employee. Federal law prohibits employers from sharing the identity of sick employees. Take care to use gender-neutral pronouns (they/them) to further protect the sick employee’s identity.
  • You must also notify all employees with whom the sick employee worked in close proximity (within six feet) for a prolonged period of time in the previous 14 days. You must also send those employees home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Advise the employees to call their doctor or the public health department for guidance on how long they should stay home.
  • If that sort of guidance is unavailable, employees without symptoms should stay home for at least 14 days to self-monitor. If they do not develop symptoms and are fever-free without using a fever-reducing medicine, the employee may return to work.
  • If the employee has symptoms, but never gets tested, the employee must remain home for 10 days since symptoms first appeared and at least 3 days (72 hours) since recovery (defined as resolution of fever without fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms).
  • If the employee tests positive and is directed to care for themselves at home, the employee must stay home until their fever resolves without fever-reducing medications, their respiratory symptoms improve and they had 2 negative tests collected more than 24 hours apart.
  • If the employee is asymptomatic, but tests positive, there are two options here, per the CDC:
    • Stay home for at least 10 days since the first positive test (assuming they remain asymptomatic; if they develop symptoms, see above). It should be noted that they can still be shedding the virus for less than or more than 10 days;
    • 2 negative gest results at last 24 hours apart.

4.      Clean and disinfect the affected area(s) of the dealership.

  • The following recommendations come from the Center For Disease Control and are designed for businesses that do not house people overnight and have had an employee with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19:
  • Immediately close off the areas of the dealership where the employee had been working. Wait as long as possible before cleaning and disinfecting the area (this will prevent accidental exposure to respiratory droplets).
  • If you can, open up doors and windows to circulate fresh air into the dealership. If possible, wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting those areas.
  • Develop policies for worker protection and train cleaning staff on-site before beginning the cleaning. Training should include when and how to properly put, use, take off, and dispose of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Also ensure that workers are trained on the hazards of workplace cleaning chemicals. With respect to both PPE and the cleaning chemicals, further guidance can be found with OSHA.
  • Download the manufacturer’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) and share with employees as needed, and make sure the cleaners used are on your list of workplace chemicals used as part of the Hazard Communication Program (which almost all employers maintain).
  • Have the areas where the employee worked or frequented cleaned and disinfected. These areas may include: offices, desks, bathrooms, and break rooms. Special attention should be paid to frequently touched surfaces, such as keyboards, phones, remote controls, etc.

5.      Be ready to answer questions.

  • Assign one person or a very small team of individuals (such as the HR manager and dealer principal) to answer internal and external questions. This will avoid confusion and misinformation from spreading through your dealership and your community.
  • Do not share details about the infected employee with anyone. Federal and state confidentiality and privacy laws prohibit employers from sharing that information with anyone.
  • Share the steps you are taking to follow health and safety protocols with employees.
  • Have a standard statement ready for any media inquiries. For example:
We have been notified that one of our employees has tested positive for COVID-19. We are working with community health officials to identify and contact anyone who may have been in close contact with the individual. Health officials will provide those individuals with the proper health guidance and protocols. Our thoughts go out to them and their loved ones.
  • Be truthful and compassionate.