What if an employee tests positive?

by Aug 25, 2020Insights

Do we close our office? Call the CDC? Get tested? 

No one expects hospitals to be germ and infection free. Expectations are LOW given the work environment. But for private practices this may often be the worst-case scenario.

Could they “blacklist” us?
Patients expect antiseptic care. If they discover an employee tested positive, the risk of exposure on social media is real. And if word spreads, we’re out of business.

Proper containment is our only option. So we studied best practices and here’s what we found:

Official Guide: When An Employee Tests Positive

Step 1

Before you send anyone home, there is one quick and crucial step for you to do as a business, and that’s to show sympathy.

The Harvard Business Review suggests saying: “I know that this is a scary thing to deal with. I am here for you if you need to talk, and certainly I understand that you may not be able to work for a little while or that your productivity may go down. Don’t worry about that, I understand what you’re dealing with”.

If you have a HR department, let them know.

Step 2

If the employee received confirmation of their illness at work, ask them to go home. If they are at home, they should stay there. There’s no need to make sick employees provide a COVID-19 test result to validate their illness. This is a guide that you can offer your sick employee on what to do during isolation.

Step 3

Let other employees know but maintain confidentiality of the sick person. Trace the employee’s close contacts at work –  defined as being within about 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time of more than 15 minutes – starting 2 days prior to symptom onset.

  • Exposed employees with symptoms should also self-isolate and follow the same steps as the sick employee.
  • Potentially exposed employees who do not have symptoms should remain at home and practice social distancing for 14 days.

Allow employees to come back only when they’ve met these criteria, which change regularly. Check here for updates.

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptom onset (or up to 20 days if illness is severe)
  • At least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications

Step 4

You don’t need to shut down your practice but close off any areas used by the  sick person. Wait 24 hours before disinfecting to minimise exposure to respiratory droplets. If waiting 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.


  • To disinfect surfaces, use products that meet the environmental protection agency (EPA)’s criteria. Here’s the link.
  • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation when cleaning
By Tom Steenhuysen ~ JustCallMeTom. 😉

About me? I’m one of the founders of the ActionPPE movement since day one. I’ve been working for the Charleston County Medical Society for over a decade.
I’m grateful to be able to help and humbled by all the support. Thank you!