In order to address many of the questions we are seeing from the business community, we are working with our partners at the Center for Disease Control, Iowa Department of Public Health, local emergency management and law enforcement partners to answer many of the recurring questions from our members. These will be updated daily as necessary to accommodate new questions and changing environments. ***************************NEW QUESTIONS/ANSWERS APPEAR IN RED LETTERING******************************
1. Question - What steps can we take at my company to help prevent the spread of COVID 19?
Answer: Center for Disease Control (CDC), Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and best practices we are seeing from our partner organizations include:
2. Question - What do I do if someone at my facility starts showing symptoms of COVID 19 (cough, sore throat, fever)?
If employees are potentially exposed or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, please send them home immediately and have them call their healthcare provider. Please consider who they have been in contact with and , if possible, implement work from home policies for those who have been in contact with that employee. At minimum consider having those employees in close contact begin a voluntary quarantine.
3. Question - Should I ask my employees that have been traveling get tested for COVID 19 before returning to work?
No. You can require employees to stay home and self quarantine (if warranted) before returning to work. An effective tool would be to ask staff to monitor their temperature morning and night. If it is 100.4 or above, they need to not attend work.
The test for COVID 19 is ineffective on those not displaying symptoms of the disease.
4. Question - Is there preventative screening we can do with our employees to keep people safe at work?
Consider having your employees check their temperature each morning and each night. A fever of 100.4 or greater should be reported to a supervisor and the employee should stay home.
5. Question - Is there any modeling that is accessible concerning the COVID spread in the United States?
There are a number of mapping tools available including Johns Hopkins University and BNO. Specific statistic mapping for Iowa is available through the Iowa Department of Public Health website. The predictive modeling maps that are out there vary depending on numbers used for infection rate and other factors.
6. Question - When or at what point or who declares that this event in on the decline, and may be safe for normal operations?
The short answer is that the Governor of each state. There are multiple components to this answer. While World Health Organization (WHO) has the responsibility to monitor the health situation and address health trends worldwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a national responsibility for applying disease control and prevention. CDC falls under the United States Department of Health and Human Services and it is the Secretary of HHS that can declare a national medical emergency which, for COVID 19, was done in January of 2020.
In Iowa, the Iowa Department of Public health (IDPH) and Governor Kim Reynolds declared a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency on March 17th, 2020.
All of these agencies share a role in monitoring the disease, patterns and trends, and necessary response in a very fluid and ever-changing environment. Efforts for recovery are already in the planning stages and are underway for Iowa Businesses impacted by this disaster. The Small Business Administration is in the process of making available disaster recovery loans to allow
7. Question - If I have employees that are sick but not tested for COVID 19, can I still require them to get a doctor's excuse before returning to work?
We are asking employees to consider waiving their currently policies. Health care facilities, in order to prevent the spread of COVID 19 are asking that employers DO NOT require a doctor's note for absence for illness. Please consider allowing employees to stay home for illness or, in the case of those with chronic illnesses that make them susceptible to COVID 19, allow them to stay at home, self-quarantine or implement work from home procedures.
8. Question - How long can I expect my employee to be out of work if they do get this illness?
The severity of the illness could dictate how long employees will be out. There is no standard time frame. Employees that have tested positive for COVID 19 should remain quarantined for at least 72 hours after they no longer have symptoms to avoid contaminating their co-workers.
9. Question - If an employee has been sick but is feeling better, how long should they wait before returning to work?
See Question 8: The severity of the illness could dictate how long employees will be out. There is no standard time frame. Employees that have tested positive for COVID 19 should remain quarantined for at least 72 hours after they no longer have symptoms to avoid contaminating their co-workers.
10. Question: Currently there are not tests being given to symptomatic individuals - only those that are hospitalized. (This is not true, patients displaying the recognizable symptoms; fever over 100.4, cough, sore thoat, are being tested for COVID 19 and can receive these tests through their local provider. Providers are asking that you call ahead if displaying these symptoms and not just showing up at the provider's office) Are sick employees with COVID symptoms still required to be reported on the OSHA 300 log?
In order for the illness to be recordable there must be a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 this is currently only confirmed by testing for the virus as outlined by the CDC. From there, there should also be some sort of confirmation that the infection is due to the performance of workplace duties. There's a bit more information on the topic of COVID as related to 300 logs here: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/standards.html, that goes more in depth if you had further interest, and also some common workplace preparedness information given by federal OSHA that you may find helpful.
11. Question: If a business records a COVID infection of an employee on a 300 log, that indicates it is a work related illness. How can a general industry business know if this is work related or from community spread?
Much like any other communicable illness this is tricky, typically there should be sufficient evidence that exposure was due to the performance of work-related duties, 29 CFR 1904.5 (https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1904/1904.5) outlines what is considered "work related" by OSHA, and these are probably the best guidelines to assist you in determination.
12. Question: If deemed work related, the business may be subject to work comp insurance claims for COVID infected employees. Are these going to be considered a compensable workers compensation illnesses that the business’s insurance is responsible for?
Companies should work directly with the providers of the workers compensation policies to ensure that these items are covered or what limitations exist under this event.