Suspected or Confirmed Case of COVID-19 in the Workplace
Employees who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 in the workplace should immediately be separated from other people (e.g., coworkers, consumers, etc.) and sent home; employees who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 while away from the workplace should notify their supervisor and stay home.
In a non-outbreak setting, employers must also:
- Notify all employees and employees’ authorized representatives who may have had COVID-19 exposure within one business day in a manner that does not reveal the COVID-19 case’s personal identifying information
- Offer testing at no cost to any employee potentially exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace, and provide applicable benefit information. The time an employee spends being tested is considered compensable hours worked.
- Exclude from the workplace employees who test positive for COVID-19 and employees with COVID-19 exposure, and follow the requirements for preserving their pay and benefits
- Follow the return-to-work criteria for returning excluded employees to work
- Investigate the exposure and address hazards
- Follow all recordkeeping and reporting requirements for employee COVID-19 cases.
For more information, visit CalOSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards.
In accordance with the Alameda County COVID-19 Isolation Health Order, all individuals who have been diagnosed with or are likely to have COVID-19 must immediately isolate themselves in their home or another residence without leaving their place of isolation, except to receive necessary medical care (see COVID-19 Isolation Instructions: English | Spanish). Employees should not return to work until they have consulted a healthcare provider and/or met the criteria to discontinue home isolation.
There is no guaranteed way to determine whether an employee has been exposed to COVID-19. If an employee was within six (6) feet of an individual confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19, for a total of 15 minutes or more, this constitutes a potential exposure. Furthermore, COVID-19 can be spread via commonly touch areas, tools, and equipment, by which a shared workspace can also constitute a potential exposure.
If you or an employee has reason to believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace, see COVID-19 Quarantine Instructions.
If an employee has been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace, they should be told to self-quarantine to monitor signs and symptoms of infection; the employee should also be encouraged to get tested for COVID-19. Please note, if the employee receives a negative test result before their quarantine period ends, the employee should continue to quarantine since symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after initial exposure to the virus.
Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers are defined as those whose work is required to sustain normal day-to-day services that enable public health and safety, as well as economic and national security. If someone in an essential critical infrastructure worker role has been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace but remains asymptomatic, the employee can return to work during their 14-day quarantine period, with certain caveats. (See Early Return to Work for Asymptomatic Workers in Critical Infrastructure Who are Quarantined Following COVID-19 Exposure for additional information.)
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. (See Critical Workers: Interim Guidance, CDC for additional information.)
Yes. To support a safe and clean environment for workers and consumers, employers and business facilities must prepare and implement a COVID-19 Site-Specific Protection Plan before they reopen.
All Businesses (except construction projects)
Use the COVID-19 Site-Specific Protection Plan Guidance & Template: English | Chinese (Simplified) | Spanish to develop your own site-specific protection plan.
For technical assistance, contact the COVID Recovery Team at COVIDrecovery@acgov.org.
Yes. Below is a list of local industry-specific reopening guidance you can reference for a safe reopening. See California State Industry Guidance to Reduce Risk and the California State COVID-19 Employer Playbook for State required guidelines. If you have questions or concerns about the State’s Industry Guidance, please call their COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-422-4255.
- Arts Community Guidance
- Essential Office Guidance
- Outdoor Pool Guidance
- Home Visiting Guidance: This guidance is provided for faith and community leaders who rely on home visits to extend services to their community members during shelter in place.
Recording and Reporting COVID-19
California employers that are required to record work-related fatalities, injuries, and illnesses must also record work-related COVID-19 cases as they would any other occupational injury, illness, or fatality. To be recordable, a work-related injury or illness must result in one or more of the following:
- Days away from work
- Restricted work or transfer to another job
- Medical treatment beyond first aid
- Loss of consciousness
- A significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional
If a work-related COVID-19 case meets one or more of these criteria, then covered employers in California must record the case on their 300, 300A and 301 or equivalent forms.
See California Code of Regulations, title 8, Chapter 7, Subchapter 1, Article 2, Employer Records of Occupational Injury or Illness for details on which employers are obligated to report and other requirements.
In accordance with California State guidelines, employers are required to report workplace-related outbreaks to their local health department. An outbreak at a non-healthcare or congregate setting workplace is defined as three or more cases within a 14-day period among employees who do not live in the same household. (See COVID-19 Employer Resources Page for Employer COVID-19 Case and Contact Tracking Template.)
For health care settings, such as acute care hospitals and outpatient clinics, as well as congregate living facilities, please visit the Health Care Facilities page for more information on how to report cases.
In accordance with California State COVID-19 reporting requirements, please use the COVID Workplace Case and Contacts Reporting Form to report a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case in the workplace, and any associated close contacts. For questions related to positive employees in the workplace, please contact the COVID Workplace Response Team at COVIDworkplace@acgov.org.
Employers should report serious injury, illness, and death to the local Cal/OSHA district office immediately. This includes in-patient hospitalization and death from COVID-19 even if work-relatedness is uncertain. Cal/OSHA prefers reports by phone but will also accept email reports to CalOSHAaccidentreport@tel-us.com
Employers must provide a written notice to all employees who may have been in close contact with an infected employee, within 1 business day of receiving notification of potential exposure. The written notice can be hand delivered or given by email or text message and should be in both English and any other language understood by the majority of employees
In accordance with the federal HIPPA Privacy Rule, when communicating a potential exposure, employers must maintain the confidentiality of employees with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection. While the aim is to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace by informing employees of potential exposures, no personally identifiable information (PII) should be shared with other employees when doing so. PII includes but is not limited to name, date of birth, address, phone number, and any other information that may deduce the identity of the infected employee.
Close contacts of cases should be given instructions on home quarantine and symptom monitoring, information regarding the closest COVID-19 testing sites. Sample language for employee-based COVID-19 exposure notification includes: “You may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace. At this time, we ask that you either get tested or self-quarantine to watch for the potential onset of symptoms.
In accordance with AB 685 (Chapter 84, Statutes of 2020), upon identifying a COVID-19 case in the workplace, you need to provide the following information:
1. Notice to your employees and the employer of subcontracted workers that they may have been exposed to COVID-19: You can inform other workers of the dates that an individual with COVID-19 was at the worksite but should not share information that could identify the affected individual. You must also provide this information to the exclusive labor representative, if any.
2. Information about benefits & options: You must provide your employees with information about COVID-19 benefits under federal, state, or local laws. This includes workers' compensation, company sick leave, state-mandated leave, supplemental sick leave, negotiated leave, and anti-retaliation and anti-discrimination protections.
3. A disinfection & safety plan: You need to inform your employees and the employer of subcontracted workers of your disinfection and safety plan for the worksite, in accordance with CDC guidelines. You must also provide this information to the exclusive labor representative, if any.
Returning to Work After COVID-19
The Alameda County Public Health Department follows CDC’s symptom-based, time-based, and test-based strategies to determine when a person with COVID-19 may be released from home isolation. Employees with COVID-19 who have stayed home can discontinue home isolation and return to work when they have met criteria from one of the following strategies in Table 1:Table 1. COVID-19 Return-to-Work Criteria
|Symptom-Based Strategy||Time-Based Strategy|
|With Symptoms||Without Symptoms|
|Persons with COVID-19 who had symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation once the following three (3) conditions have been met:
||Persons with laboratory-confirmed
COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation once the following condition has been met:
Please refer to the CDC's Isolation Guidance.
An employer should not require any documentation from an employee with COVID-19 to return to work (i.e., a negative test result is not required from an employee to return to work). The Alameda County Public Health Department follows CDC’s symptom-based and time-based strategies to determine when a person with COVID-19 may be released from home isolation. For additional details, see Table 1: COVID-19 Return-to-Work Criteria (above) and/or please refer to the CDC's Isolation Guidance.
No, not necessarily. Employees may have been exposed to COVID-19 if they were in “close contact” with an infected individual, which is defined as being within six (6) feet of an infected individual for 15 minutes or more. Employees without close contact with the person who is sick can return to work immediately after cleaning and disinfection of affected workplace areas.
No. The Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) follows CDC’s symptom-based and time-based strategies to determine when a person with COVID-19 may be released from home isolation; the ACPHD does not require or encourage the requirement of a negative test result—or any other additional clearance measures—for an employee to return to work. For more information, please refer to the CDC's Isolation Guidance.
Please note, however, health care personnel and staff at Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs), Long-Term Care Facilities (LTCFs), Residential Care for the Elderly (RCFE) and other residential sites, will have additional restrictions when returning to work after having COVID-19. See CDC guidance for health care personnel return-to-work criteria.
A viral test (nose or throat swab), which checks for current infection, is recommended to determine if a person can actively transmit COVID-19 to others. Conversely, an antibody test (blood sample), which checks for past infection, is not recommended to determine an employee’s current COIVD-19 status.
For a list of COVID-19 testing sites within Alameda County, please visit the Alameda County Public Health Department Testing for COVID-19 webpage.
If your employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, thinks they were exposed to someone who has COVID-19, or the test is otherwise medically necessary for their situation, under federal law, they can obtain a COVID-19 test anywhere and their health plan must pay for the test.
If the employee is an essential worker, does not have symptoms, and does not think they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, they must contact their health plan before getting tested. The health plan must cover the test but will first need to help the employee get an appointment with a testing provider.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
Close off all areas used by the employee who is sick. Wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting to minimize potential for exposure to respiratory droplets— if 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible. Follow CDC guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection for the Workplace. Operations can resume as soon as cleaning and disinfection are completed.
Clean and disinfect all areas potentially used by the sick employee including their workspace, bathrooms, common areas, doorknobs, and shared electronic equipment like tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and ATM machines.
In most cases, it is not necessary to shut down your facility. If it is feasible to close off affected areas, the cleaning and disinfection of these areas should occur based on CDC guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection for the Workplace. Once areas have been appropriately disinfected, they can be reopened for use.
Preventing COVID-19 in the Workplace
Employers should continue to reiterate the following COVID-19 prevention messages to employees:
- If you are sick, do not come to work.
- Remain 6 feet apart from one another, whenever feasible.
- Wear a face covering whenever in the same area as others.
- Wash hands frequently, with soap and water (or use hand sanitizer with 60%+ alcohol).
- Do not touch eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Disinfect commonly touched areas, daily.
Furthermore, Cal/OSHA has developed guidance on the steps every employer should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Cal/OSHA recommends employers review the guidance relevant to their industry, worksites, county variance guidance and criteria, as well as the guidance on Cal/OSHA safety requirements and existing procedures to ensure the workplace is protected from the spread of COVID-19. See Cal/OSHA Industry Guidance on COVID-19 for industry-specific information on protecting employee’s from COVID-19.
Employers should require that all personnel (e.g., employees, contractors, volunteers, etc.) to conduct a self-assessment of symptoms and possible exposure to COVID-19 before the start of each shift.
Screening Guidance for Employers, Businesses, and Organizations: English | Arabic | Chinese (Simplified) | Chinese (Traditional) | Farsi | Khmer | Korean | Spanish | Tagalog | Vietnamese
Self-Assessment Guidance for Workers: English | Arabic | Chinese (Simplified) | Chinese (Traditional) |Farsi | Khmer | Karen | Korean | Spanish | Tagalog | Vietnamese
In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following strategies should be executed by employers to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace:
Ask employees to self-assess their temperature and symptoms prior to the start of each work shift. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before the individual enters the facility.
Employees without symptoms of COVID-19 should self-monitor under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program.
Face Covering Requirement
Employees should wear face coverings whenever in the same area as others in the workplace. Employers can issue facemasks or can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages.
Social Distancing Requirement
Whenever possible, employees should maintain a six-foot distance from others and practice social distancing, as work duties permit, in the workplace.
Daily Cleaning and Disinfecting
Clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment routinely, daily.
In accordance with the August 28, 20202 Alameda County Health Order, an employee must wear a face covering when in the workplace, except when in a private space or area not regularly used by others. They must wear a face covering when preparing food or other items for sale or distribution to people who are not members of their household or living unit. They may remove their face covering when eating or drinking if they are alone or with only members of their Social Bubble and nobody else is within six feet.
Employers who operate non-healthcare businesses should follow the Alameda County General Business Ventilation Guidance to reduce possible airborne exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 in rooms and buildings. This guidance should be used for determining the most effective combination of methods for increasing indoor ventilation and air filtration.
- Alameda County Department of Environmental Health COVID-19 Page (ACDEH)
- Businesses and Workplaces during COVID-19 (CDC)
- CA Dept. of Industrial Relations
- COVID-19 Labor Law Information
- Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Guidance and Resources
- Cal/OSHA Emergency Regulations to Protect Workers from COVID-19 in Effect
- Cleaning and Disinfecting Workplaces for Reopening Guidance (CDC)
- Critical Infrastructure Workers
- Early return to work for asymptomatic workers in critical infrastructure who are quarantined following COVID-19 exposure (ACPHD, 8/21/20)
- Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 (CDC)
- Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to 2019-nCoV (CDC)
- Manufacturing Workers and Employers (CDC)
- Open Letter to Employers Regarding Clearance Testing: English | Arabic | Chinese (Simplified) | Chinese (Traditional) | Khmer | Korean | Spanish | Tagalog | Vietnamese (ACPHD, 8/12/2020)
- Public Works Safety Protocol During COVID-19 (AC-PWA)
- Small Businesses
- Executive Order Providing Relief to California Small Businesses (CalOES. 3/30/20)
- Small Business Resource List (ACPHD)
- Small Business Disaster Assistance Civil Unrest Loan (SBA)
- Worker Safety and Support during COVID-19 (CDC)