Infectious Disease and Pandemic Plan

Background

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus spreading from China throughout the rest of the world. 

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, including: 

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has SARS-CoV-2 on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the primary way the virus spreads.

People are believed to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (i.e., experiencing fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this type of asymptomatic transmission with this new coronavirus, but this is also not believed to be the main way the virus is spread. 

Symptoms

Infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can cause illness ranging from mild to severe and, in some cases, can be fatal. Symptoms typically include:

  • fever,
  • cough, and
  • shortness of breath.

Some people infected with the virus have reported experiencing other non-respiratory symptoms. Others referred to as asymptomatic cases, have experienced no symptoms at all.  Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. 

Infection Prevention Measures

All employees should take steps to reduce the transmission of infectious diseases in the workplace. The best methods are frequent hand washing with warm, soapy water; covering your mouth whenever you sneeze or cough; and discarding used tissues in wastebaskets. When washing hands is unavailable or impractical the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers is recommended. This policy is in effect at all times and applies to all employees. 

Stop the Spread

  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. Whenever possible, cough or sneeze into a tissue and then throw it away. Cough or sneeze into your elbow if you do not have a tissue.
  • Clean your hands often. Wash for 15 to 20 seconds with warm soapy water. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used.
  • Stay home if you are sick and talk to your manager if you have a sick family member at home.
  • Provide customers and with tissues, trash receptacles, and hand sanitizer.
  • Don’t use other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible.
  • Routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, equipment, and other elements of the work environment. Choose disinfectants with labels claiming effectiveness against emerging viral pathogens approved by the EPA. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use of all cleaning and disinfection products.

Employee Guidelines

During a pandemic influenza outbreak (COVID-19) the most effective way to limit the spread of the disease is to ask persons with influenza-like symptoms to remain home. Healthy adults may be able to infect others up to 48 hours before they exhibit symptoms and can continue to spread the virus up to five (5) days after getting sick. These time periods are even longer for children. Therefore, it is possible to spread the flu before you are aware of your illness and for the duration of the event. The CDC recommends that persons stay home for seven (7) days after the onset of symptoms or 24 hours after symptoms end to make sure they do not spread the virus. The exact time frames related to on-set, duration, and spread of COVID-19 is not currently known.  For your own health and the health of your coworkers:

  • Avoid crowded public transportation when possible.
  • Avoid all nonessential travel. 

Stay Home or Work Remotely

Employees should not come to work if they are exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

  • Fever,
  • Body aches,
  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, and

Employees at Work

  • Notices should be posted at all workplace entry points advising employees and visitors not to enter if they have flu-like symptoms.
  • Use the telephone, online conferencing, e-mail, or instant messaging to conduct business as much as possible, even when participants are in the same building.
  • If a face-to-face meeting is unavoidable, minimize the meeting time, choose a large meeting room, and sit at least one yard from each other if possible; avoid person-to-person contact such as shaking hands.
  • Cancel or postpone nonessential meetings, gatherings, workshops, and training sessions.
  • Do not gather with others unnecessarily in workrooms, pantries, copier rooms, or other areas where people socialize. 

If employees start to feel ill, or if someone observes that another person is exhibiting symptoms of influenza (COVID-19), they should immediately ask the employee to self-isolate and contact a supervisor. Take steps to limit the spread of the respiratory droplets of a person who may have COVID-19. Provide a face mask, if feasible and available, and ask the person to wear it, if tolerated. 

Cleaning and Sanitizing Work Areas

Work areas such as counters and shared areas should be wiped down at a minimum of three times per day. This should be accomplished using sanitizing wipes. Each employee is expected to clean their work area surfaces with disinfectant wipes at the beginning of each shift. The following items are to be disinfected daily:

  • Wipe down all of the surfaces you might touch such as,
  • Telephones,
  • Computer keyboard and mouse,
  • Keys, chair surfaces, doorknobs, desk handles.