On April 8, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) issued updated guidance for critical infrastructure workers returning to work. Previously, the CDC had provided that an individual exposed to the coronavirus should self-quarantine for fourteen days. The CDC now recommends that critical infrastructure workers “may be permitted to continue to work following a potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.” The CDC defines potential exposure as “being a household contact or having close contact within 6 feet of someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.” Further, individuals that have had exposure but remain asymptomatic should follow the following practices while working:
- Pre-Screen: Employers should measure the employee’s temperature and assess symptoms prior to them starting work. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before the individual enters the facility.
- Regular Monitoring: As long as the employee does not have a temperature or symptoms, they should self-monitor under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program.
- Wear a Mask: The employee should wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after last exposure. Employers can issue facemasks or can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages.
- Social Distance: The employee should maintain 6 feet and practice social distancing as work duties permit in the workplace.
- Disinfect and Clean work spaces: Clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment routinely.
The CDC has printable flyers for workplaces.
An article in the April 9 Wall Street Journal discusses how New York hospitals are implementing guidelines for utilization of emergency supplies, such as ventilators. Hospitals are employing the New York State 2015 Ventilator Allocation Guidelines, requesting physicians get patient medical wishes in case they become too ill to communicate, and using existing ethical guidelines to make determinations. The article states that New York State officials are working to update the 2015 guidelines.
Norton Rose Fulbright attorneys will continue to follow on a daily basis COVID-19-related developments pertinent to health care providers and publish regular updates in the Health Law Pulse.