What to do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19

The city of Berkeley has been sharing public health news and recommendations about COVID-19 on its website. Berkeleyside is reprinting some of these items with permission.

Image: CDC

Berkeleyside is sharing this message about worksite exposures to COVID-19 from the city of Berkeley. It was published July 24 and appears below in full.

Worksite exposures: when an employee tests positive for COVID-19

When you learn of a confirmed COVID-19 case at your workplace, identify any contacts who may have been exposed and notify Berkeley Public Health.

This page provides a summary of the contact investigation and reporting process. Find detailed instructions in our worksite exposure toolkit for employers.

Before you have a case

Every business should take precautions to protect staff and customers from COVID-19, and document these precautions in a site-specific protection plan.

The City has created guidance and a fillable template to help you complete your plan.

When notified of a case at your worksite

When you learn an employee has tested positive, perform an investigation, make a list of contacts, and report results to Berkeley Public Health.

  1. Identify who may have been exposed. When an employee tests positive for COVID-19, you’ll need to perform an investigation to identify anyone who may have been exposed.Review the employee’s schedule and work location to determine who they have had close contact with during their infectious period. For the purposes of the investigation, a “close contact” is anyone who was within 6 feet of the infected employee for at least 15 minutes.If the employee has symptoms of COVID-19, the infectious period begins two days before symptoms appeared. If they tested positive without symptoms, review their interactions for their last two days at work.When conducting your investigation, remember to review time spent in shared spaces, such as break rooms, and contact with non-employees, such as customers or vendors.
  2. Report to Public Health. Download Berkeley Public Health’s worksite exposure line list and document all the close contacts you have identified. When complete, email the line list to Berkeley Public Health’s Communicable Disease Prevention & Control Unit at cobcd@cityofberkeley.info, using the subject line “Berkeley Worksite Exposure.”
  3. Notify employees. Notify any employees you have identified as potentially being exposed, and instruct them to quarantine at home for 14 days after the last exposure to the infected employee. The City has prepared a template you can use for this letter. Do not disclose the name of the employee who has tested positive. Encourage employees who may have been exposed to get tested through their health care provider, or at a public COVID-19 testing site. Please note that a negative test is not clearance to return to work. Employees should only return to work after they have completed their 14 day quarantine.

Outbreaks (3 or more cases)

If you learn of 3 or more confirmed cases among employees who do not live together within 2 weeks, contact us immediately.

Call (510) 981-5292 or email cobcd@cityofberkeley.info with the subject line “Berkeley Worksite Exposure — possible outbreak.”

Berkeley Public Health will ask for the following information. Please have as much of this available as possible when you report — but do not delay reporting an outbreak if you are missing any of these documents:

  • Completed worksite exposure line list
  • Layout of your worksite and the location where the infected employee works
  • Your site-specific protection plan

A Berkeley Public Health investigator will contact you and provide guidance on next steps, including possible site closure.

Documents