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Health Department issues COVID-19 guidelines for companies, employees

The Allen County Department of Health has issued recommendations to help companies and their employees address medical situations posed by COVID-19.

An employee or their household family member tested positive for COVID-19:

If you have an employee that tested positive for COVID-19, they must stay home from work until they have been:

Fever free for 72 hours AND at least 7 days have passed since the

onset of their symptoms

• Any other employees who had direct contact with the infected employee (within six feet for greater than five minutes) should also stay home from work until 14 days have passed since their last exposure.

• All other employees in the building who may have had low-risk contact with the case should self-monitor with twice daily fever and symptom checks for 14 days.

• If an employee has a household family member who tested positive for COVID-19, your employee must stay home and complete a 14-day quarantine period to ensure they are not infected with the virus before returning to work per Department of Health.

An employee or their household family member was evaluated by a physician and told they could not be tested; however, they were presumptively diagnosed with COVID-19:

If an employee has been evaluated by a doctor and told they likely have COVID-19 even without laboratory diagnosis, we would recommend you act as if the patient is infected with COVID-19. Please have the employee stay home until they are:

Fever free of for 72 hours AND at least 7 days have passed since the

onset of their symptoms.

• In this situation, we would recommend all other employees practice self-monitoring which includes twice daily fever and symptom checks for 14 days past the last day of exposure.

• If an employee has a household family member who was evaluated by a doctor and told they presumptively have COVID-19 without laboratory testing, for all practical purposes this person has COVID-19 and the employee should stay home and complete a 14-day quarantine period.

• However, if this will cause severe staffing shortages and they are critical to the operation, although not ideal, the employee may be able to return to work if they are not experiencing any symptoms. However, they should practice self-monitoring and should keep their distance from others in the office or facility.

An employee or their household family member is sick with respiratory illness but has not been evaluated by a physician:

If an employee has been experiencing cough, fever or shortness of breath, but has not seen a doctor, please encourage them to do so. If their illness has not been diagnosed by a physician, they must stay home at least 24 hours after fever has resolved before returning to work. Other employee contacts should self-monitor for symptoms out of extreme caution. If an employee’s household family member is ill with respiratory symptoms but has not seen a physician, the employee can return to work but should self-monitor for symptoms and practice social distancing at work.

The department also has issued recommendations for those diagnosed with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 or were clinically diagnosed with COVID-19 based on an evaluation by a physician without laboratory testing:

 Stay home except to get medical care: If you must seek medical care, make sure arrangements are made ahead of time to avoid additional exposures.

 Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home: As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and animals. Use a separate bathroom if space allows.

 Wear a facemask: You should wear a facemask if you must be around other people in your home, car or medical provider’s office.

 Cover your coughs and sneezes: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and immediately throw the tissue away in a trash can. Immediately wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60 percent alcohol).

 Avoid sharing personal household items: Do not share drinking glasses, plates, eating utensils, towels or bedding with other people or pets in your home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

 Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day, including counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and tables. Also clean any surfaces that have blood, stool, or other bodily fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe according to the label instructions.

 Monitor your symptoms: Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening (e.g. difficulty breathing). Before seeking care, call your healthcare provider to arrange the visit ahead of time. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have, or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, wear a face mask before emergency medical services arrive.

When to discontinue home isolation:

 Stay home in isolation until at least seven days have passed from the onset of your illness and you have been free of fever for 72 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread in our community and testing capabilities remain limited, we appreciate that employers are faced with several new challenges regarding employee illness policies,” the department said in a statement. “We hope these guidelines are helpful and please know that we do understand the hardship this can cause in terms of staffing.”

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