Guidance for Employees
When an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19
Suffolk County Health Department will investigate positive cases. We understand that employers may want to reach out to their employees before our investigation is complete.
If an employee reports a positive test to their employer, you should consider the following:
Was this person on-site when symptomatic or 48 hours before symptoms started?
If the answer is yes, the individual with a positive test result should identify who they were in close contact with while symptomatic. New York State defines a close contact as being within 6 feet of a person displaying symptoms of COVID-2019 or someone who has tested positive of COVID-2019. The contact should be ten minutes or more.
The employer should notify the individuals who were identified by the employee who tested positive.
The employer should also disinfect the work space:
CDC Guidance on disinfecting:
Hard (Non-porous) Surfaces
- If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
- For disinfection, most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
- A list of products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 is available on the EPA website. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products for concentration, application method and contact time, etc.
- Additionally, diluted household bleach solutions (at least 1000ppm sodium hypochlorite) can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application, ensuring a contact time of at least one minute, and allowing proper ventilation during and after application. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
- Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted. Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
- 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water or
- 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
Soft (Porous) Surfaces
- For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes, remove visible contamination if present and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces. After cleaning:
- If the items can be laundered, launder items in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and then dry items completely.
- Otherwise, use products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 and that are suitable for porous surfaces
We hope this information is helpful. We appreciate your assistance with the response to this unprecedented event.
Determining Whether a Business Enterprise Is Subject To a Workforce Reduction under Recent Executive Orders
Executive Order 202.8 is a directive issued by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo that requires businesses in New York State to reduce the number of employees working at individual locations in New York State to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak.
Employers are required to reduce the number of employees working at each location by 100 percent effective March 22, 2020 at 8 p.m. The employment reduction requirements apply to all for-profit and not-for-profit employers in New York State, unless such business is deemed an essential business or entity providing essential services. These entities are considered “Essential Business.”
An Essential Business is any business providing products or services that are required to maintain the health, welfare and safety of the citizens of New York State.
Guidance as to whether a business is an “Essential Business” can be found on the website of Empire State Development at: https://esd.ny.gov/guidance-executive-order-2026
If your business is determined to be an Essential Business, only those employees that are needed to provide the products and services that are essential to provide such products or services are permitted to work at the business location. In addition, Essential Businesses are still required to utilize telecommuting or work from home procedures to the maximum extent possible. Those employees who do report to work must adhere to the requirements set forth in the Department of Health guidelines, which can be found at: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home
If your firm is not an Essential Business, your business is required to comply with the employment reduction provisions contained in Executive Order 202.8 which requires the number of employees working at each location be reduced by 100 percent effective March 22, 2020 at 8 p.m.
Providing Face Coverings for Public and Private Employees Interacting with the Public
New York State Executive Order 202.16 provides that any employees who are present in the workplace at all essential businesses are to be provided and shall wear face coverings when in direct contact with customers or members of the public. Businesses must provide, at their expense, such face coverings for their employees.
This requirement became effective Wednesday, April 15 at 8 p.m.
For more information, visit: Interim Guidance on Executive Order 202.16 Requiring Face Coverings for Public and Private Employees Interacting with the Public during the COVID-19 Outbreak April 14, 2020.
Information on Homemade Cloth Face Coverings https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html
Additional New York State Executive Orders can be found at: https://www.governor.ny.gov/executiveorders
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding School Reopening
from Nassau County and Suffolk County Departments of Health
Nassau and Suffolk County Departments of Health understand that school districts in our community face many complex challenges upon reopening. Without question, the health and safety of students and staff remains our paramount concern. Nassau and Suffolk County Departments of Health also appreciates that not all schools and school districts have similar needs and challenges, and therefore emphasizes a flexible approach to addressing questions. That being said, the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), we hope will assist the school districts and communities as we head to towards the beginning of school year.
These FAQs are dynamic and subject to change as more information is learned and guidance is provided by New York State.
Glossary of Terms:
Case: individual with laboratory confirmed COVID-19
Close Contact: close contact is defined as being within six feet of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time (ten minutes or more) for 48 hours before case’s symptom onset to case’s isolation. One would also be considered a close contact if someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 coughed or sneezed on you, or shared food.
Proximate Contact: proximate contact is someone in the same enclosed environment as the case such as a classroom, office, or gatherings but greater than 6ft from a person displaying symptoms of COVID -19 or someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Persons Under Investigation (PUI): a close contact who has developed symptoms of COVID-19 and is waiting on confirmatory test.
Isolation: isolation is the separation of someone who is infected with COVID-19 from others to prevent further spread of the disease.
The isolation period for COVID-19 is at least ten (10) days from onset of symptoms (or test date if asymptomatic) and 72 hours fever free (without fever reducing medication) and other symptoms are improving.
Quarantine: quarantine is the separation of someone who has been exposed to a COVID-19 case and now has the potential to develop the disease. This is done to prevent the possible spread.
The quarantine period for COVID-19 is fourteen (14) days from date of last contact with a case, provided no symptoms have developed.
COVID-19 Representative (CR): designated school staff responsible for COVID-19 communication and planning within their school community and liaison to local health departments.
LHD: local health department which includes both Suffolk Department of Health (SDOH) and Nassau County Department of Health (NCDOH)
Should the school district have a designated representative for COVID 19?
Yes, school districts should designate an internal COVID-19 representative (CR). This could be, for example, one CR for the district, or one CR for each building or a number that makes sense for the district. CRs are responsible for answering questions from students, faculty, staff, and parents or legal guardians of students regarding the COVID-19 public health emergency and plans implemented by the school. CRs should also work closely with the Nassau and Suffolk County Departments of Health and other schools to monitor public health conditions and jointly develop monitoring strategies.
Should the CR have any training?
Yes, Nassau and Suffolk County Departments of Health recommend that the CR be trained in the basics of COVID-19 and contact tracing and suggests the course offered by Johns Hopkins University: https://www.coursera.org/learn/covid-19-contact-tracing?edocomorp=covid-19-contact-tracing
How does a school district contact the local health department to report a COVID-19 case in their district?
For all Nassau County calls questions from parents or members of the public please call our Call Center at 516-227-9570.
In Suffolk County, school staff can call 311 to report a case in their district.
Note: information will be taken about the case and general guidance may be provided. Specific guidance, however, cannot be provided until the case investigation is complete. Typically, case investigations are done within 24 hours of receipt of a positive test result.
Would you recommend masks for all students even with 6 feet social distance?
Yes. Face coverings should be the norm, not the exception. Breaks from mask wearing should be allowed for meals and other coordinated activities, provided physical distancing is in place.
What are the recommended protocols if a student tests positive?
Student should immediately be placed on isolation at home for at least 10 days. School staff should assist the local health department in contact tracing efforts by providing a list of probable close contacts (defined as being within 6 feet of the infected student for at least 10 minutes). The identification of close contacts should begin 48 hours before the student became symptomatic, or 48 hours before the student was tested for the COVID-19 virus if asymptomatic. Identified close contacts should also remain at home for 14 days of quarantine from the date of last exposure to the infected student.
Please note a Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (rT-PCR) test result would most likely come to the local health department first through the NYS Electronic Clinical Lab Reporting System (ECLRS) system. While LHDs are notified about PCR tests regularly, LHDs may not be notified about the rapid antigen tests.
If during a case interview, the LHD identifies that case as a student in school, we would reach out to the school administration to inform them of the positive case and conduct contact tracing. If it is rapid antigen test, the student/family may get the result before the LHD. In that situation, we would expect the medical office that ordered the test to reach out to us, or perhaps the family. If the school district is aware of a positive test among its students or staff, but has not heard from the LHD, please reach out to us so that we can confirm this case. Case investigation/contact tracing would then proceed after NCDOH or SCDOH is notified.
SCDOH and NCDOH are responsible for case investigation and contact tracing in their counties. School districts should support case investigation and contact tracing efforts by confirming attendance, sharing rosters, etc. Case investigations are typically done within 24 hours of receipt of a positive test result. School districts should have plans in place related to community notification and operations while investigations are underway. SCDOH and NCDOH provide isolation or quarantine orders to all cases and contacts in their respective counties. In addition, those under isolation or quarantine will be monitored daily. When the isolation or quarantine period has ended, a letter from the local health department confirming release will be provided to each case and contact. Students and/or staff can provide the letter to their school district to return.
Contact tracing and quarantining of close contacts is initiated upon receipt of a positive test result. In addition, only contacts of the case are quarantined, not contacts of contacts.
What are recommended protocols if a staff member tests positive?
Similar to the question above, the staff member should be under home isolation for at least 10 days, with contact tracing as outlined above. We elicit current employment on case investigation and would reach out to the school when we find out. In addition, please note that each LHD investigates its own county cases. Confirmed cases in faculty, staff and administrators that live outside the school’s county will be investigated by the jurisdiction in which they reside. In these cases, please know that Nassau and Suffolk County Departments of Health will work closely together.
What are the recommended protocols for a symptomatic student on a bus?
Local health department would not be involved for symptoms only; we would only begin an investigation based on a positive virus test (nasopharyngeal swab rT-PCR or rapid viral antigen). If the student tests positive, any close contacts of the student, (including those on the same bus) may be subject to quarantine. This does not apply to antibody tests.
What are the recommended protocols for suspected cases of COVID-19?
Students and staff with symptoms of illness should not attend school. It is recommended that individuals and/or families consult their medical provider to determine if COVID-19 testing is warranted. Note: notification and contact tracing is initiated upon receipt of a positive COVID-19 test result. No action is taken for suspected cases. Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 should follow the established CDC/NYS DOH guidelines for ending isolation. All residents who test positive are monitored daily by the LHD contact tracing staff and will receive a letter from their LHD confirming release from isolation.
Students and staff with other illnesses (e.g., cold, flu, strep throat, etc.) should follow existing school policy for return. It is recommended that staff and families consult with their medical provider for guidance.
Suffolk and Nassau Counties have comprehensive networks of family health centers that serve the uninsured and underinsured. More information can be found out: https://suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/Health-Services/Patient-Care/Health-Centers or https://www.lifqhc.com/, respectively.
In addition, COVID-19 testing sites can be found at: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-near-you
What should someone do while waiting a pending COVID-19 result?
Staff as well as students who have been tested for COVID-19 or who have signs and symptoms of COVID-19, should remain at home and not come to school until results are known. A positive result will require additional isolation of the case and close contacts elicited as described above. Quarantine and/or notification will be determined by the local health department in conjunction with the school district. Laboratory testing may take days until results are determined. The local health departments have no control over laboratory testing.
What information is confidential?
NCDOH and SCDOH will only discuss names of cases with appropriate personnel consistent with HIPAA and public health law. No parents or other students will be informed of names or identifying information. Please do not email names of individuals as well, as they are not secure.
To what extent must students/staff quarantine/isolate after:
A singular positive case?
Identified close contacts should be placed on quarantine for 14 days from date of last contact. This could affect students, teachers, or other school staff.
NCDOH and SCDOH recommends that close contacts get tested for COVID-19. Students and staff should consult their medical provider for guidance.
This would be more complicated, depending on if they are in the same cohort (a cluster), or positives in multiple cohorts (an outbreak). Those in a cluster would isolate at home, and a presumably small number of identified close contacts would quarantine at home. An outbreak across multiple cohorts would involve a larger number of people identified as close contacts, and thus more of the student population under quarantine. This would require coordination with NYS DOH in addition to the school district.
Should isolation occur within singular classroom? Grade level? Building? District?
Isolation would apply to the person who tests positive. Any close contacts identified for quarantine will likely be in the same classroom or lunchroom. Schools should try to limit the number of cohorts to the greatest extent possible. For most children that number is going to be at least two, the bus and the classroom.
If an elementary student tests positive and the students within the class/cohort are all in masks and 6 feet apart in class must the class be quarantined?
This scenario would need to be decided on a case-by-case basis. There would be many factors considered including age of students, time spent in the classroom, size of the classroom, etc. If all were wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing, the likelihood that further positive cases are identified from that cohort is minimal. These individuals might be considered proximate contacts and should be monitored for signs and symptoms but may not part of the contact tracing effort. The school districts may decide to make notifications to their students and staff in the classroom or building who are not close contacts.
If students are 6 feet apart in a classroom with no masks and one tests positive, is the class quarantined?
Yes. In this scenario, there will be a higher likelihood of identifying other positive cases related to the index case. Students wearing masks lower the rate of transmission/new cases even when one is exposed to a case.
If the spouse of a faculty member presents with a positive COVID test, for how long should the employee isolate? Should a negative test be required to return to work?
The employee would be considered a close contact of the spouse, and would be subject to quarantine for 14 days from date of last contact with the spouse. The employee may return to work after completion of the quarantine period; no test is necessary unless the employee develops symptoms.
If a faculty member who has wide-spread access to the building tests positive (ie - custodian, principal, etc.) to what extent should isolation occur amongst the rest of the population? What steps should be taken before a return?
The faculty member should be under home isolation; if anyone meets the definition of a close contact with that faculty member, the close contact(s) should quarantine for 14 days. The faculty member may return to work after 10 days of isolation provided that person is fever free for the last 72 hours without the use of fever reducing medications and symptoms (if any) are improving.
A child, who rides a school bus, has a parent who was notified that she (the parent) tested positive for COVID-19 after the child left the house for the bus stop. The parent called the principal to alert her of the test results: the student had already arrived at school and was in class. What protocols need to be put in place for students/families that were at the bus stop, students and staff who were on the bus, and classmates and teachers of the bus riders?
The child should be sent home to be placed on quarantine. The child is most likely a close contact, but not a case/did not test positive, therefore there is no action that needs to be taken for any of the other persons mentioned. LHD will not quarantine a contact of a contact.
Holiday Celebrations During The COVID-19 Pandemic
As we plan for fall and winter holiday celebrations, we must think of a number of considerations to help protect ourselves and our families, friends, and communities from COVID-19. This year’s holidays will need to be different to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Avoid activities that are higher risk, such as attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside your home. Consider fun alternatives that pose lower risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19, such as virtual celebrations. If you are planning to gather with loved ones, consider the following:
BEFORE YOU CELEBRATE
Hosting a Holiday Gathering
If you will be hosting a celebration, follow these tips
- Limit numbers of attendees as much as possible.
- Host activities with only people from your local area as much as possible.
- If you are hosting an indoor event, increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather.
- Provide updated information to your guests about any COVID-19 safety guidelines and steps in place to prevent the spread of the virus.
- Provide or encourage attendees to bring supplies to help you and others stay healthy. For example, extra masks (do not share or swap with others), hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, and tissues.
- If you are planning in-person holiday gatherings with people outside of your household, consider asking all guests to strictly avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.
Attending a Holiday Gathering
If you will be attending a celebration that someone else is hosting, follow these tips:
- Bring supplies to help you and others stay healthy. For example, bring extra masks (do not share or swap with others), hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, and tissues.
- If you are planning to attend in-person holiday gatherings with people outside of your household, consider strictly avoiding contact with people outside of your household for 14 days before the gathering.
Traveling increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. Use information from the following webpages to decide whether to go on holiday travel:
If you decide to travel out of state and return to New York state:
- You must obtain a test within three days of departure from that state you are visiting
- You must, upon arrival in New York, quarantine for three days.
- On day 4 of your quarantine, you must obtain another COVID test. If both tests comes back negative, you may exit quarantine early upon receipt of the second negative diagnostic test.
- All travelers must continue to fill out the Traveler Health Form upon arrival into New York State to contribute to New York State’s robust contact tracing program.
Tips to keep from getting sick:
- Wear a mask in public settings, like on public and mass transportation, at events and gatherings, and anywhere you will be around other people.
- Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart (about 2 arms’ length) from anyone who is not from your household.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
- Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Get your flu vaccine
Gatherings can contribute to the spread of other infectious diseases. Getting a flu vaccine is an essential part of protecting your health and your family’s health this season. It’s not too late.
DURING THE CELEBRATION
Follow these tips to reduce your risk of being exposed to, getting, or spreading COVID-19 during the celebration:
Social Distance and Limit Close Contact
- Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet or more from people you don’t live with. Be particularly mindful in areas where it may harder to keep this distance, such as restrooms and eating areas.
- Avoid using restroom facilities at high traffic times, such as at the end of a public event.
- Avoid busy eating areas, such as restaurants during high volume mealtimes, if you plan to eat out at a restaurant.
- Minimize gestures that promote close contact. For example, do not shake hands, bump elbows, or give hugs. Instead wave and verbally greet others.
- Wear a mask at all times when around people who don’t live in your household to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
- Avoid singing, chanting, or shouting, especially when not wearing a mask and within 6 feet of others.
Limit Contact with Commonly Touched Surfaces or Shared Items
- Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use when feasible. Use EPA-approved disinfectants.
- Use touchless garbage cans if available. Use gloves when removing garbage bags or handling and disposing of trash. Wash hands after removing gloves.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Keep Safe around Food and Drinks
Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that handling food or eating is associated with directly spreading COVID-19. It is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, including food, food packaging, or utensils that have the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. However, this is not thought to be the main way that the virus is spread. Remember, it is always important to follow good hygiene to reduce the risk of illness from common foodborne germs.
- Make sure everyone washes their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after preparing, serving, and eating food. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Instead of potluck-style gatherings, encourage guests to bring food and drinks for themselves and for members of their own household only.
- Limit people going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen or around the grill, if possible.
- Wear a mask while preparing or serving food to others who don’t live in your household.
- If serving any food, consider having one person serve all the food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.
- Use single-use options or identify one person to serve sharable items, like salad dressings, food containers, plates and utensils, and condiments.
- Avoid any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets or buffet-style potlucks, salad bars, and condiment or drink stations. Use grab-and-go meal options, if available.
- If you choose to use any items that are reusable (e.g., seating covers, tablecloths, linen napkins), wash and disinfect them after the event.
- Look for healthy food and beverage options, such as fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low or no-calorie beverages, at holiday gatherings to help maintain good health.
AFTER THE CELEBRATION
If you participated in higher risk activities or think that you may have been exposed during your celebration, take extra precautions (in addition the ones listed above) for 14 days after the event to protect others:
- Stay home as much as possible.
- Avoid being around people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- Consider getting tested for COVID-19.
If you develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or if you test positive for COVID-19, immediately contact the host and others that attended the event or celebration that you attended. They may need to inform other attendees about their possible exposure to the virus. Contact your health care provider and follow the CDC-recommended steps for what to do if you become sick, and follow the public health recommendations for community-related exposure.
If you are waiting for your COVID-19 test results, stay home until you have a result, and follow the COVID-19 guidance on isolation and quarantine to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, a public health worker may contact you to check on your health and ask you who you have been in contact with and where you’ve spent time in order to identify and provide support to people (contacts) who may have been infected. Your information will be confidential. Learn more about what to expect with contact tracing.
If you are notified that you were a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19
- Stay home for 14 days from the last time you had contact with that person.
- Monitor for symptoms of coronavirus.
- Get information about COVID-19 testing if you feel sick.