The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued interim guidance to ensure the continuity of operations of essential functions, such as water and wastewater utility operations. The CDC advises that critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue to work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.
The CDC defines a “potential exposure” as a household contact or close contact within six feet of an individual with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19. The timeframe for having contact with an individual includes 48 hours before the person identified as a confirmed or suspected case started exhibiting symptoms.
The CDC recommends critical infrastructure workers who have been exposed but remain asymptomatic adhere to the following practices prior to and during their work shift:
- Pre-Screen: Employers should measure the employee’s temperature and assess symptoms prior to starting work. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before the individual enters the facility.
- Regular Monitoring: As long as the employee doesn’t have a temperature or exhibit symptoms, the employee should self-monitor under the supervision of the employer’s occupational health program.
- Wear a Mask: The employee should always wear a facemask while in the workplace for 14 days after last exposure. Employers can issue facemasks or approve cloth face coverings obtained by the employee in the event of shortages.
- Social/Physical Distance: The employee should maintain 6 feet separation and practice social or physical distancing as work duties permit in the workplace.
- Disinfect & Clean Workspaces: All areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, and shared electronic equipment should be routinely cleaned and disinfected.
If an employee becomes sick at work, the employee should be sent home immediately. Workspace surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected immediately. Information on persons who had contact with the ill employee during the time the employee had symptoms and two days prior to symptoms should be compiled, including anyone at the facility who had close contact within six feet of the employee.
Employers should implement the recommendations in the Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 to help prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19in the workplace. For more CDC information about critical infrastructure workers, click here.