The following protocol should be followed by a supervisor when they learn that an employee has had exposure to someone who is either suspected to have COVID-19 or has a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.
This protocol is designed to assess and mitigate possible exposure due to close personal contact or contact with contaminated surfaces. If you still have questions after reading this protocol, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How COVID-19 Spreads
COVID-19 is known to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person and may be spread by those without symptoms. The Delta variant, which currently causes the majority of infections in the U.S., causes more infections and may cause more severe illness. Fully vaccinated individuals may still spread COVID-19 when infected. Public Health officials maintain that the vaccines currently used in the U.S. prevent severe illness, even by the Delta variant.
Contact Versus Close Contact
The CDC defines close contact as including the following:
- You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period
- You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
- You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
- You shared eating or drinking utensils
- You shared a bathroom
- They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you
How USU Responds to Close Contact
Under current public health guidance, an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate. An individual who had close contact with a someone with COVID-19 must quarantine. Those who have symptoms of an illness, those who test positive, and those who had close contact with a confirmed case should complete the COVID-19 Questionnaire to alert the USU case containment team and receive support and services.
Secondary contact (contact with someone who has had contact with a suspected or confirmed case) does not trigger a quarantine, site closure, or other institutional-level responses. Instead, individuals who have had secondary or tertiary contact should self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, wear a face covering when in public, and continue to practice social distancing.
Testing for COVID-19
Exposure at Work
If while at work an employee has contact with another employee, student, or visitor with either a confirmed case of COVID-19 or who is displaying COVID-19 symptoms, follow this protocol.
- Supervisor takes immediate action to triage and/or contain the suspected case:
- Check with symptomatic person to determine if there are other underlying or non-contagious reasons for the symptoms (e.g. allergies, asthma etc.). Maintain social distance and wear a face covering while doing so if in person. Note, sometimes individuals mistake COVID-19 symptoms for seasonal allergies. It is best to error on the side of caution.
- If no other underlying or non-contagious reasons are found, send symptomatic employee home immediately and advise them to seek testing and to contact their medical provider.
- Or, if a student or visitor to the workspace is displaying symptoms, ask them to return home or at minimum leave the workspace and advise them to seek testing and to contact their medical provider.
- Direct a symptomatic employee or student to complete the COVID-19 questionnaire.
- Immediately email email@example.com to notify both Risk Management and the case containment team.
- Advise the employee to telework if both their position and health permits while they wait for more direction from the case containment team. For those unable to telework, or who are ill, they should be directed to check with Human Resources regarding paid leave for which they may be eligible or encourage them to contact HR if they have questions.
- Supervisor, in consultation with Risk Management, evaluates potential additional disinfection needs for worksite:
- Evaluate the areas where symptomatic person worked and/or visited and the number of and type of touch points in those areas.
- Close off employee’s workspace, if possible, and do not disturb for 24 hours.
- Clean workspace after 24 hours.
- Supervisor continues to enforce the four principles of prevention and waits for the case containment team to determine if any other individuals should be quarantined. This team will protect the privacy of the individual who tested positive or who has symptoms to the greatest extent possible.
Exposure at Home
If while at home or off-duty an employee has contact with someone with a suspected and/or confirmed case, the supervisor should follow this protocol.
- Supervisor directs employee to submit a COVID-19 Questionnaire and informs USU officials of the situation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Supervisor provides telework options for employee if their position and health permit. Alternatively, consider assigning employee to workspace where they are not interacting with other employees, students, or visitors.
- If flexible work arrangements are not available and employee cannot isolate themselves from person with COVID-19, supervisor should discuss leave options with employee. Contact HR for assistance with determining appropriate leave.