Essential Workers Can Return To Work After Potential COVID-19 Exposure

New CDC guidelines recommend temperature checks before the start of the work day, wearing face masks and practicing social distancing.
Posted at 6:16 PM, Apr 09, 2020

Essential workers who have been potentially exposed to COVID-19 and are asymptomatic can go back to work under new CDC guidelines. 

Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the CDC, said: "One of the critical things we can do is keep our workforce working." 

The new guidelines recommend employee temperature checks before the start of the work day, wearing face masks, practicing social distancing and disinfecting workspaces. With high unemployment numbers — almost 17 million new claims in the last three weeks — the Trump administration is looking to get businesses rolling again. But some employers are cautious.

Alexander Alonso, the chief knowledge officer at the Society for Human Resource Management, said: "From an employer's perspective, it's really hard to assess without medical records. I do think employers will be much more conservative in their approach to letting others come back." 

Under the medical privacy law known as HIPAA, employees' health information can't be shared with employers. So companies have to trust what employees tell them and use basic monitoring, like temperature checks. 

Alexander Alonso is part of the Society for Human Resource Management, which counts over 300,000 human resources workers as members. He says a lot of members have been asking what qualifies as an essential business.

Alonso: "There are different guidelines for that, according to states. An example of that is Maryland has shut down all golf courses, whereas the state of Virginia has kept the golf courses open."

Outside of the health care industry, there are currently no CDC guidelines for people who have recovered from COVID-19 to return to work.