COVID-19 Disease Investigation Information for Businesses
Updated 08/3/20, 10 p.m.
To reduce the spread of disease, the Sedgwick County Health Department (SCHD) investigates reports of people who test positive for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The investigation includes determining the source of exposure, close contacts, and symptoms. If during the course of the investigation SCHD staff determine a positive case was infectious at a business, the business will be contacted if the employee gives permission to contact the employer (per House Bill 2016).
My employee tested positive, what should I do?
Contact SCHD by phone (316-660-7300) or email (COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org). Please contact SCHD staff prior to making business decisions. If an employee who tested positive did not work while infectious or if an employee is a close contact of a case, there is low risk of transmission in the business. Thank you for helping us protect the public’s health. If an employer calls SCHD about an employee who tested positive and the employee has not given permission to SCHD to discuss the case, SCHD provides general guidelines for what the business needs to do if they have a case. In that situation, SCHD cannot ask for the name of the case or close contacts.
How will a business be notified if an employee is COVID-19 positive?
Information to BUSINESSES about people who test positive for COVID-19 or who are in quarantine/isolation is confidential information and protected by patient privacy laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Per House Bill 2016, if an employee gives SCHD permission to contact their employer, SCHD will call a business and speak to a manager or to Human Resources if an employee who tested positive was infectious while at work, indicating transmission to other employees or customers could have occurred.
- If all close contacts cannot be identified at the business, for example if the business is open to the public, SCHD will work with the business to create a joint press release announcing information to people who may have been at the business during the times when the employee was infectious. This allows the public to monitor for symptoms and be tested if needed. The press release will not contain protected health information of the person who tested positive.
- If all close contacts can be identified at the business, no press release will be issued by SCHD.
Do I need to close my BUSINESS if an employee or customer is COVID-19 positive?
In most cases, you do not need to shut down your facility. If it has been less than seven days since the employee or customer has been in the facility:
- Close off any areas used for prolonged periods of time by the person who tested positive
- Wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting to minimize potential for other employees being exposed to respiratory droplets. If waiting 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
- During this waiting period, open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in these areas.
If it has been seven days or more since the employee or customer used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary. Continue routinely cleaning and disinfecting all high-touch surfaces in the facility.
You can view specific reopening instructions at https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/248/Business-Employers.
What happens when an employee is around someone who is COVID-19 positive?
- If an employee is deemed a close contact of a person who is COVID-19 positive, that employee should quarantine at home and not return to the BUSINESS until 14 days have passed since their last exposure to the COVID-19 positive person.
- If the employee is not a close contact of a person who tested positive, the employee is not in quarantine and can work.
- If the employee is a contact of a person who is being tested, the employee is not in quarantine and can work.
- For example:
- Bob has no symptoms and has been contacted by SCHD to stay home in quarantine.
- He is in quarantine because his wife Susie has symptoms and has tested positive for COVID-19. She stays home in a room separate from Bob’s.
- Bob’s close contacts are not in quarantine unless he develops symptoms AND tests positive for COVID-19.
What is a close contact?
A close contact for COVID-19 is defined as being within 6 feet for more than 10 minutes (per KDHE guidance) or having direct contact with infectious droplets (cough, sneeze) of a person who is COVID-19 positive.
What happens if an employee is being tested for COVID-19?
If the employee is being tested for COVID-19 and has symptoms, he/she must stay home until test results come back. The employee may contact SCHD at 316-660-7300 if he/she has questions.
If the employee’s test results are negative:
- The employee can return to work after they feel better and are fever free for 24 hours without the help of fever-reducing medication.
- The employee can request a return-to-work letter from the healthcare provider that tested them.
If the employee’s test results are positive:
- The employee remains AT HOME in isolation without attending any public activities (large gatherings, athletic events, visiting the mall, etc.).
- The SCHD notifies the employee by phone and begins a disease investigation.
- The employee should stay home for 72 hours (per KDHE guidance) after symptoms end or ten days from the day symptoms start – whichever is longer. This is considered recovery.
- Upon recovery, the employee can request at return-to-work letter from SCHD.
How does the SCHD investigate disease transmission?
The SCHD epidemiologist staff interviews the person about their symptoms, exposure, close contacts, and where they have been while infectious. If SCHD determines there was exposure to close contacts at your business during the time the employee was infectious, a SCHD epidemiologist staff member will contact the employee’s supervisor to determine close contacts. This occurs only if the employee gives permission to SCHD to contact the employer. This is confidential information and protected by patient privacy laws. If the employee was not infectious at work, SCHD will not contact the BUSINESS.
Will the SCHD provide COVID-19 testing for businesses?
Symptomatic Sedgwick County residents can be tested at no-cost through SCHD by dialing 2-1-1 United Way of the Plains. At this time, SCHD does not test asymptomatic residents except those in the following types of work:
- Healthcare workers, including those working in clinics, hospice, home health, hospitals, and long-term care
- First responders (EMS, Fire)
- Law enforcement
- Direct Support Professionals
- People working in residential living facilities such as detention centers, group homes, and residential schools
What can businesses and employers do to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
To prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, like the flu or COVID-19, businesses and employees should practice the following measures:
- Wear a face covering
- Maintain social distancing of six feet away from others who are not in your household
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Clean and disinfect all “high-touch” surfaces like doorknobs
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home when sick
To help monitor the spread of disease across Sedgwick County, using an online application, employers can report to SCHD the total employees who are sick. The percent sick among all business that report will be summarized each week on the Sedgwick County website. No names of businesses and only aggregate numbers will be reported. The application is found here: www.sedgwickcounty.org/covid-19/daily-report-sick/.
Who do I contact with questions?
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Sedgwick County Health Department by phone (316-660-7300) or email (COVIDemail@example.com).