Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 at Work
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The Dangers of COVID-19
COVID-19 is an infectious disease.
There’s no way to know how COVID will affect you. Most people have a mild case, but it can cause serious illness and death.
People more likely to get very sick include those who’re:
We all have a responsibility to help protect those most at risk for serious illness from getting COVID.
How COVID Spreads
Infected people exhale virus particles. They exhale even more when they cough, sneeze, or talk.
You’re most likely to get infected if:
- You’re 6 feet or closer to an infected person and breathe the same air—particularly indoors.
- You get virus particles in your eyes, nose, or mouth.
What Employers Can Do
Employers can make the workplace safer by taking the following actions. Be sure to educate workers on your COVID policies and procedures.
Properly ventilate the workplace
Helpful ventilation measures include:
- Making sure your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system works correctly.
- Maximizing the amount of outside air supply.
- Using air filters with a minimum efficiency reporting value of 13 or higher.
- Keeping windows and doors open if you don’t have an HVAC system and it’s safe to do so.
- Using portable air cleaners with high-efficiency particulate absorbing (HEPA) filters in spaces with high occupancy or limited ventilation.
Routinely clean and disinfect
Clean frequently touched surfaces at least once a day. Also clean them after someone who is sick or suspected of being sick touches them.
Frequently touched surfaces include:
- Counters, tables, and desks
- Shopping carts
- Doorknobs and handles
- Light switches
- Stair rails
- Elevator buttons
- Electronics, such as keyboards and phones
- Toilets, faucets, and sinks
Soap and water work just fine to clean most surfaces. To further disinfect surfaces, use a recommended disinfectant.
Encourage sick workers to stay home
Make sure your workplace and leave policies are flexible and supportive. Such policies include remote working arrangements, flexible work schedules, and paid sick leave.
Encourage workers to stay home if:
- They’re sick.
- They have to take care of a sick family member.
- They’re unvaccinated and have been exposed to COVID.
Record and report infections
- Report workplace COVID outbreaks to your local health department.
- Employers with more than 10 workers must report work-related COVID cases to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
What Employers and Employees Can Do
Employers should encourage all workers to take the following actions.
The most important thing you can do is get vaccinated as soon as possible.
People 12 and older can also choose to get the Novavax vaccine.
Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine is available in limited situations for people ages 18 and older, such as for those who can’t get the other vaccines for health reasons.
The number of doses you need to stay up to date with your vaccines depends on your age and which vaccine you get.
For males ages 12–39: You may benefit from waiting longer between the 1st and 2nd doses of your primary vaccination series. Talk to your health care or vaccine provider.
For vaccinated people 5 and older: Updated vaccines are available to help protect against Omicron.
It doesn’t matter which COVID vaccine you got for your primary vaccination series (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, or Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen) or how many boosters you’ve already gotten; get your updated vaccine 2 months after your last dose.
If you recently had COVID, you should wait 3 months from when you got sick to get your updated vaccine.
Children age 5 can get Pfizer-BioNTech’s updated vaccine.
People 6 and older can get either Pfizer-BioNTech’s or Moderna’s updated vaccine.
For vaccinated people 18 and older who haven’t gotten a booster or who can’t or won’t get an updated COVID vaccine, such as for health reasons: You can choose to get a Novavax booster 6 months after completing any of the primary vaccination series (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, or Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen) to help keep up your protection against COVID. However, unlike the updated vaccines, Novavax’s booster doesn’t target the Omicron variant.
For people with compromised immune systems: Because you’re less able to fight infections, you may need more than these recommended doses. Talk to your health care provider.
You have 3 ways to find vaccines near you:
- Go to vaccines.gov
- Text your ZIP code to 438829
- Call 1-800-232-0233
Employers should give workers time off to:
- Get vaccinated.
- Get over any vaccine side effects that may affect their ability to work. Some people have mild side effects—normal signs that their body is building protection—but they typically last a few days at most.
Wear a mask
Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth in the workplace if you’re
- Not fully vaccinated.
- Fully vaccinated and in an area with substantial or high spread of COVID.
- Fully vaccinated and have a weakened immune system.
Employers may require workers to wear a mask for everyone’s safety, even if they don’t meet the criteria above.
Keep your distance
Try to stay at least 6 feet away from other people in the workplace.
Wash your hands
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Stay home if you’re sick
You should stay home from work if:
- You’re infected with COVID.
- You have any COVID symptoms.
- You’re not up to date with your COVID vaccines and had close contact with an infected person (you should stay home and quarantine for at least 5 days).
Test to prevent spreading COVID
Regardless of your vaccination status, you should get tested:
- Immediately if you have any symptoms of COVID.
- At least 5 days after you last had close contact with an infected person.
If you test positive for COVID, stay home for at least 5 days and isolate from others in your home.
If you have symptoms, you can end isolation once you are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and your symptoms are improving.