What Should I do When an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19?

While many residents have been working virtually to provide essential and necessary services throughout the pandemic, many more are slowly beginning the return to work on-site. Wearing protective face coverings and practicing social distancing remain key and should continue. Still, it is possible that exposure to the COVID-19 virus can occur.

Here’s what to do if someone at your workplace tests positive for COVID-19.

  1. Report the Exposure – Employers should notify the Virginia Department of Health online of any reports they receive of positive COVID-19 tests among employees, subcontractors, contract employees and temporary employees present at the place of employment within 14 days of the positive test result. Additionally, employers must notify the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry online within 24 hours of discovering three or more positive test results within a 14 day period.

  2. Communicate with Staff – Employers should notify all employees about an exposure within the workplace. This notification should not include personally identifying information on who is infected. Employees who had close contact with the person diagnosed with COVID-19 will need to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms. Staff who need to quarantine and monitor for symptoms will be notified by the Health Department and may be asked to get tested. Staff who do not hear directly from the Health Department do not need to take additional precautions. Continue to encourage safe work and home practices, such as maintaining six feet of distance, handwashing, monitoring for symptoms and wearing a face covering or mask whenever it is necessary to come within six feet of others.

  3. Outline Clear Return-to-Work Guidelines for Exposed Employee(s) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Virginia Department of Health guidance, an employee can return to work once either of the following situations is met:

a. If the employee had symptoms of the COVID-19 illness and was confirmed by a test or a healthcare provider’s diagnosis, that person may return after: 

The employee has been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications; AND Symptoms have improved and no new symptoms have developed; AND At least 10 days have passed since symptoms started.

b. If the employee never had symptoms of illness but was confirmed positive by a COVID-19 test, the employee is cleared to return to work 10 days after the date of the positive test so long as no symptoms have developed since the test.

See more information on when to isolate and when to quarantineA negative test result should not be required because the test may remain positive long after an individual is no longer contagious. This is because the test may detect dead virus particles that cannot be spread to others.

On its Business FAQ page the CDC website also recommends that employers close off areas used by a sick person and do not use them until after cleaning and disinfection. Wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting. If it is not possible to wait 24 hours, wait as long as possible. Ensure safe and correct application of EPA-approved disinfectants and keep disinfectant products away from children.

For more information, visit the Fairfax County’s COVID-19 information for businesses page, call the Health Department’s Coronavirus Call Center at 703-267-3511 or email covid@fairfaxcounty.gov.



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