CDC Guidelines for Essential Workers Exposed to COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidelines Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 aimed at getting workers who have been exposed to the coronavirus in critical fields back to work faster.

Under the old guidance, workers were told to stay at home for 14 days if they were exposed to someone who had tested positive for coronavirus. The new guidelines will allow critical workers who have been exposed go back to work if they are asymptomatic and follow certain conditions.

A potential exposure means being a household contact or having close contact within 6 feet of an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. The timeframe for having contact with an individual includes a 48-hour timeframe before the individual became symptomatic.

According to the guidelines essential workers who have had an exposure, but remain asymptomatic should adhere to the following practices prior to and during their work shift:

• 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: If the employee doesn’t have a temperature or other symptoms, they should self-monitor their temperature and report to the employer if their temperature increases or they exhibit any symptoms. If the employee does not take their own temperature, the employer should take it prior to them starting work.

• Wear a Mask: The employee should always wear a face mask 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 apart from any other coworkers and practice social distancing as work duties permit in the workplace.

• Disinfect and Clean Workspaces: Clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment routinely.

The guidelines also include actions that the essential workers must not do under any circumstance. They must not share headsets, headgear, or any type of object that is used near the face. The workers are not allowed to congregate in crowded places or break rooms.

If the employee becomes sick during the day, they should be sent home immediately. Surfaces in their workspace should be cleaned and disinfected. Information on persons who had contact with the ill employee during the time the employee had symptoms and 2 days prior to symptoms should be compiled and informed of their potential exposure. Others at the facility with close contact within 6 feet of the employee during this time would be considered exposed.

Employers should implement the recommendations in the SGIA Sanitation Guide and Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 to help prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

SGIA is following this issue closely and will keep this page updated as we receive more information. For more information please contact the Government Affairs Department at