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December 04, 2020
CDC updates employer COVID-19 resources

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provided updated resources on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) for employers. These include a fact sheet on case investigation and contact tracing, critical infrastructure sector response planning, and information for school administrators and school nurses.

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The CDC offered a cleaning, disinfection, and hand hygiene toolkit for school administrators, as well as disease information for school nurses. It also explained that successful cleaning and disinfection in schools requires administrators to develop and implement a plan, as well as maintain and revise it. The toolkit includes handouts and posters for cleaning and disinfecting school classrooms and other campus facilities. The EPA maintains current lists of disinfectants effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The CDC also combined its “Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19” and “COVID-19 Critical Infrastructure Sector Response Planning” documents, consolidating and clarifying essential public health information. The combined and streamlined document addresses the following issues:

  • Growing evidence of transmission risk from infected people without symptoms (asymptomatic) or before the onset of recognized symptoms (presymptomatic);
  • Ongoing community transmission in many parts of the country; and
  • Continued focus on reducing transmission through social distancing and other personal prevention strategies that include cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces, hand-washing, and wearing cloth face coverings.

The CDC emphasized the need for community use of face coverings to curtail the number of COVID-19 infections. It suggested cloth face coverings may provide some “filtration for personal protection,” although cloth face coverings and surgical masks are not approved for respiratory protection. Whatever protection they may offer combined with droplet source control has been shown to reduce exposures to SARS-CoV-2.

The CDC said protection from infection increases as more people wear face coverings consistently and correctly.

The CDC and NIOSH also released a fact sheet for employers covering COVID-19 case investigations and contact tracing. Local public health departments are responsible for leading case investigations, contact tracing, and outbreak investigations.

Employers can help local public health departments by:

  • Establishing a COVID-19 coordinator or team to serve as a resource for the health department and the workplace to help develop and put into action hazard assessment activities;
  • Creating and implementing a COVID-19 preparedness, response, and control plan to help evaluate the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and to choose actions to prevent its spread;
  • Preparing information about the workplace, including work schedules, attendance records, and building map or floor plans for the health department, without revealing confidential personnel information;
  • Performing a workplace hazard assessment to identify potential exposures to COVID-19 and using a hierarchy of control methods to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace; and
  • Encouraging employees to discuss their symptoms, exposures, and contacts with the health department.
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