The Anne Arundel County Health Department has issued the following guidance for handling COVID-19 in the workplace.
Please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the guidance and to create a plan of action for your business should any of your employees or customers contract COVID-19 and have contact withing your place of business.
There are no requirements for businesses to close if an employee tests positive for COVID-19. The Anne Arundel County Department of Health, once notified of a positive case, initiates contact tracing usually within 24 hours of notification. Contact tracing is an in-depth conversation about where a person has been and where the individual could possibly have exposed others, so that appropriate parties can be notified. It is at this time that the health department would advise the business the best way to proceed which could include closing.
Local health departments and the State of Maryland continue to monitor the ongoing COVID-19 situation and make recommendations for businesses accordingly. At this time, if a business remains open it is expected to follow safe practices as set out by the state and county. The county is committed to working with businesses to help them understand these best practices
Notification of Cases in the Workplace
Promptly identifying and isolating potentially infectious individuals is critical in protecting workers, customers and visitors.
- Health departments investigate COVID-19 cases, trace contacts and notify contacts of exposure. Jurisdictions may actively monitor clients daily or have clients self-monitor and communicate remotely to notify public health authorities. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/contact-tracing/contact-tracing-plan/investigating-covid-19-case.html
- The workplace should inform and encourage employees to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 if they suspect possible exposure.
- The workplace should develop policies and procedures for employees if and when they are sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
Keeping a Building Open
Local and state health departments monitor the ongoing COVID-19 situation and make recommendations. If a business remains open, it are expected to follow safe practices as set out by the state and county. The county is committed to working with businesses to help them understand these best practices.
In the event of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the workplace:
- Close off areas visited by the ill persons. Open outside doors and windows and use ventilating fans to increase air circulation in the area. Wait 24 hours or as long as practical before beginning cleaning and disinfection (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html).
- Employers should work with local and state health departments to ensure there are appropriate protocols and guidelines.
- Educate staff performing cleaning activities to recognize symptoms of COVID-19 and provide instructions on what to do if they develop symptoms within 14 days after their last possible exposure. At a minimum, staff should immediately notify their supervisor and local health department if they develop symptoms of COVID-19.
- Develop policies for worker protection and provide training to all cleaning staff. Training should include when to use PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), what PPE is necessary, and how to properly put on, use, take off and dispose of PPE.
- Ensure staff are trained on the hazards of the cleaning chemicals used in the workplace in accordance with OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard (https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf)
- Comply with OSHA’s standards on bloodborne pathogens, including proper disposal of regulated waste, and PPE.
Educate Employees and Supervisors about Steps They Can Take to Protect Themselves at Work
- Provide easy to understand communication and training in preferred languages spoken or read by the employees, and include accurate and timely information. Topics should include signs and symptoms of infection, staying home when ill, social distancing, face coverings, hand hygiene practices, and identifying and minimizing potential routes of transmission at work, at home and in the community.
- Staff should stay home if they are sick with a mild cough or low-grade fever. Staff should also consider staying home (or working from home) if they have had to take simple medications, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin, which may mask symptoms of a fever.
- Provide information and training on what actions employees should take when they are not feeling well (e.g., workplace leave policies, local and state health department information).
- Financial Assistance:
Closing a Building
Guidelines vary for different types of businesses and establishments. There is no exact number of cases that determine a decision to close an establishment. Local health departments investigate all complaints from the public and utilize data collected from contact tracing to guide decision-making. Closures are determined on a case-by-case basis. Closures depend on the level of disease transmission in the community and readiness to protect the safety and health of employees and customers.
In the result of a closure due to COVID-19:
- Follow CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfection.
- Wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting to minimize the potential for exposure to respiratory droplets. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
- Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
- Clean and disinfect all areas including offices, bathrooms and common areas, focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces. Operations can resume as soon as the following cleaning and disinfection are completed.
- Wash surfaces with soap and water prior to disinfection.
- Disinfect surfaces using EPA approved products (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html) for use against SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and that are appropriate for the surface.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products for concentration, application method, contact time and required PPE.