COVID-19 Workplace Exposures

Employer Resources for Workplace Exposures, Reporting and Outbreak Management

COVID-19 Workplace Exposure Employer Toolkit

The County of Nevada County Public Health Division recognizes that our community, including employers, plays an important role in protecting public health. We are providing this toolkit to employers to help contain and mitigate any cases of COVID-19 within your workforce. These tools provide guidance on notifying employees of an exposure and help identify workplace exposures. The County greatly appreciated the cooperation of local businesses in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

This guidance is not intended for use in managing or preventing outbreaks in healthcare, congregate living settings, or other workplaces where the California Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) standard applies.

Step 1: Isolate positive individual and sanitize

Provide instructions to the worker who is positive for COVID-19. 

The worker should be sent home immediately and instructed to isolate. Employers must share the isolation guidance with any lab-confirmed positive employee(s).

"Isolation" is what someone who has a lab-confirmed positive COVID diagnosis is required to do. Employers need to share the isolation guidance with any lab-confirmed positive employee.

Steps people need to take who receive a positive COVID-19 test

Clean/disinfect workplace where employee(s) with COVID-19 have been at work

Refer to the California Department of Public Health's (CDPH's) Workplace Guidance for detailed guidance.

Step 2: Follow the steps laid out in the State of California's Workplace Guidance

Review and follow the following guidances:

  1. California Department of Public Health's Responding to COVID-19 in the Workplace for Employers Guidance
    1. The above CDPH guidance above has 9 steps. Follow the steps outlined in this guidance.
    2. Employers are required by law (AB 685) to report any workplace outbreaks to the local health department (Step 4 below). An outbreak is three or more cases in a 14 day period.
    3. The CDPH guidance says, "Establish if the employer, LHD, or both will conduct interviews of the cases to determine their close contacts." At this time, Nevada County employers are responsible to conduct an interview of positive COVID-19 cases to determine close contacts (see Step 3 below). That information will be submitted to the Public Health Department (see Step 4 below).
    4. Additional steps: Notify Nevada County Public Health of all positive employees and their close contacts via our Workplace Exposure List form (see Step 4 below). We ask that you do not wait until there is an "outbreak" (defined as 3 or more cases in a 14 day period). However, AB 685 requires that employers report any outbreaks to the public health department within 48 hours. 
    5. Employer questions on AB 685
    6. Sample employee notification letter in English and Spanish

Step 3: Identify and Notify Close Contacts

If an employer learns that an employee has tested positive, the employer needs to determine which, if any, employees, clients, subcontractors, vendors, visitors, students or other individuals in the workplace had close contact with the positive employee. 

  • Close Contact is defined by CDC as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.  
  • "Quarantine" is what someone who has an exposure to a lab-confirmed COVID-19 positive person is required to do if they are not fully vaccinated. All Close Contacts (as defined above) should be instructed to quarantine at home from their last known contact with the employee with COVID-19. Close contacts should be tested for COVID-19 when possible. Employers must provide the quarantine guidance to all Close Contacts in the workplace, including visitors, subcontractors, employees, clients, etc. All Close Contacts must abide by the quarantine guidance below. If someone is at least two weeks after their final COVID vaccine dose, they do not need to quarantine. However, they should monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if any symptoms start.
    1. Quarantine guidance in English
    2. Quarantine guidance in Spanish
    3. Quarantine vs Isolation English, Quarantine vs Isolation Spanish

Each close contact needs to be 1) identified, 2) individually notified of quarantine requirements, and 3) information collected from each contact to complete the Workplace Exposure List (see Step 4 below), and 4) encouraged to get tested.

Maintain Confidentiality

Employers should keep employees’ medical information confidential in accordance with federal and state laws. Do not disclose the identity of the COVID-19 positive worker in your effort to identify close contacts. Please consult with your attorney if you have any questions about applicable employment or privacy laws.

Step 4: Notify Nevada County Public Health

Submit completed Workplace Exposure List (see below) to Nevada County Public Health via fax to (530) 271-0836. This number is a secure fax line so you can submit the list with appropriate HIPAA protections, as the list contains individual medical information. Please complete your Workplace Exposure List completely prior to submission. The Workplace Exposure List should include all positives and all workplace close contacts of those positives. Submit the completed Workplace Exposure List within 48 hours of notification of COVID exposure.

This information will be monitored by Public Health to determine if there is an outbreak and if further guidance is needed. If there is no outbreak, Public Health may not provide additional guidance beyond what is included here. Although businesses must submit the completed Workplace Exposure List to Public Health, you may not hear back from us.

If you identify additional close contacts or additional staff receive positive test results, revise the list and resubmit with the most current information.

Step 5: Maintain a safe work environment

Do not allow employees to come to work or remain at work if they have any COVID-like symptoms. We continue to see significant transmission and workplace outbreaks as a result of employees coming to work with mild symptoms but assuming that since it's mild, they do not have COVID. 

Employers should not ask that employees have a negative test to return to work. Because dead virus particles remain in a person's body even after they are no longer infectious, the COVID test may still come back as positive for up to 90 days after the person first tested positive. This means the test can’t determine when when someone is no longer contagious. When an employee's isolation is over, they are no longer considered contagious and can return to work.  

 Additional CDC Guidance

Essential Critical Infrastructure:

For "Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers," businesses can utilize workers who are in quarantine and asymptomatic and if the business requires them to continue to function. This only applies to business specifically listed as essential critical infrastructure and for employees who must be in the office/field for the industry to function. If work can happen at home, and the employee is well enough to work, telework should continue. Any quarantined employee who is brought back must remain in quarantine in the rest of non-work activities for the duration of their quarantine period. This applies ONLY to critical infrastructure industries, as defined in the link above. Additional definitions from the state of California. CDC guidance on this process is here

Still Have Questions?

For questions about how to get a COVID test, general questions about COVID-19, or questions about general COVID guidelines, contact 211 by dialing 2-1-1 or 1-833-DIAL211.

If you have additional questions related to workplace exposures after reviewing these materials, contact Nevada County Public Health at (530) 575-5270.

Include in your message your business name, city, point of contact and contact phone number, and a brief situational update (ex. 3 employees out with fever and cough, one employee reporting a positive COVID-19 lab test).

We will do our best to get back to you within one business day.