If someone at your business becomes infected with COVID-19, they can potentially spread their illness to others. Does this happen simply by walking around or talking to others? When does this become dangerous to employees? And what should be done to minimize the risk of transmission?

COVID-19 Exposure - What Is It?

According to the CDC, individuals who are exposed to someone infected with COVID-19 need to follow safety guidelines. So, what does it mean to be exposed? A person is considered to be exposed if they were in close contact (i.e., within 6 feet) for a prolonged period of time (i.e., at least 15 minutes).

Developing Symptoms After Exposure

If an employee develops symptoms after exposure, they need to self-isolate according to the CDC's 5-day guidance, if they are unvaccinated or NOT up to date with their vaccines/boosters. 

This does not necessarily mean that they only miss work for just 5 days. It depends on how long their symptoms last. Self-isolation time can be longer than 5 days if symptoms continue. 

Employees must continue to stay home until their symptoms improve. 

No Symptoms After Exposure

If an employee does not show symptoms after being exposed, they need to quarantine according to the CDC's 5-day guidance if they are unvaccinated or NOT up to date with their vaccines/booster shots. 

During the first five days, they have to see if symptoms develop. If they do, the employee should continue staying home to monitor their symptoms in 5-day increments until they experience improvement.

Employees may return to work if they meet the CDC's symptom improvement criteria for discontinuing quarantine/self-isolation. Employers cannot ask for negative test results or a medical doctor's confirmation as requirements for coming back to work.