Team ND Managers: FAQs Regarding COVID-19

An employee has recently traveled, what should we do?
Employees who have recently traveled, whether for work or for personal reasons, should report it to their agency. If an employee has traveled to a country with ongoing, widespread community transmission, traveled to an area of the U.S. with widespread transmission, or was recently on a cruise,  they need to self-quarantine at home and self-monitor for symptoms for a period of 14 days. Employees should complete the travel survey on the North Dakota Department of Health website.  

An employee has tested positive for COVID-19. What should we do?
The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) will conduct an investigation of individuals who test positive for COVID-19. This investigation will include informing close contacts of their exposure. All individuals that are part of the investigation have the right to confidentiality, including close contacts. If you were not directly contacted by the NDDoH, you were not identified as a close contact to a case of COVID-19. All employees should continue to monitor their health and stay home if they feel ill. All employees should also need to continue to practice social distancing. Agencies will have employees work from home unless their job cannot be done remotely. Stay informed with accurate information about COVID-19 on the NDDoH website.

It is important to remember that you must maintain all information about employee illness as a confidential medical record in compliance with State and Federal law including the ADA. Managers with question should contact legal counsel or HRMS for guidance. Managers with question should contact legal counsel or HRMS for guidance.

An employee has a suspected, but unconfirmed, case of COVID-19. What should we do?
If an employee suspects they have COVID-19, they need to self-quarantine at home and self-monitor for symptoms, while awaiting test results or other direction from a health care provider. Because this is not a confirmed case, all employees should continue to practice social distancing and monitor for symptoms. If the employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, then the NDDoH will initiate a case investigation with contact tracing, as described above.

There are many different germs that can cause respiratory illness. The symptoms associated with COVID-19 can range from mild to severe. The best practice is for employees to self-monitor for symptoms and stay home if they become ill. In the event COVID-19 is suspected, they should contact their health care provider. Because this will be an ongoing and common situation, employees need to stay knowledgeable and act accordingly to protect themselves and their colleagues.

A family member within the same household as an employee has tested positive for COVID-19. What should they do?
If an employee’s family member has tested positive for COVID-19, they need to contact the NDDoH at 1-866-207-2880, and they need to self-quarantine at home and self-monitor for symptoms for a period of 14 days.

An employee self-reported that they have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. What should we do?
An employee who has been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 should stay home to self-quarantine and to self-monitor for symptoms for a period of 14 days. The agency should advise the employee to contact the NDDoH at 1-866-207-2880. If the employee is identified as a close contact, the NDDoH will advise the person to self-quarantine at home and self-monitor for symptoms for a period of 14 days.

An employee has been exposed to COVID-19 but only found out after they had interacted with agency clients, customers and other employees. What should we do?
If the employee had contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19, then they need to contact the NDDoH at 1-866-207-2880 and self-quarantine at home for 14 days from their last exposure and monitor themselves for symptoms.  The NDDoH will provide guidance if there are any other additional recommendations.

If we learn or suspect that an employee has COVID-19, do we have a responsibility to report this information to the NDDoH?
There is no obligation to report a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 to the NDDoH. The healthcare provider that receives the confirmation of a positive test result is a mandatory reporter who will handle that responsibility. However, employers can call NDDoH at 1-866-207-2880 for guidance if they learn that an employee has been confirmed to have COVID-19.

Can we require an employee to notify the agency if they have been exposed, have symptoms, and/or have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus?
Employees who have symptoms, have been exposed or have tested positive for COVID-19 must report to their agency if they work in a high-risk setting such as a long-term care facility, assisted living facility, hospital, clinic, homeless shelter or correctional institution. These facilities should develop policies requiring reporting. In other work settings, the agency can encourage employees to report and require employees that are ill to remain at home.  Employees must follow self-quarantine recommendations of the NDDoH or a health care provider and should report that information to the appropriate person within the agency as this will impact leave benefits.

How can we distinguish between a “suspected, but unconfirmed” case of COVID-19 and a typical illness? 
There is no easy way for non-medical agencies to make this determination, nor should you try. Many different germs can cause similar respiratory symptoms. The symptoms for COVID-19 range from mild to severe. Since new cases of this virus continue to be reported, including cases from limited community spread, the best guidance is for individuals who feel ill is to stay at home. Employees who report to work ill should be reported to management so they can be separated from other employees and sent home.

Symptoms that you should look for may include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Aches and pains
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath

It is important to remember that you must maintain all information about employee illness as a confidential consistent with State and Federal law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

All of this seems confusing and overwhelming, what is it that I really need my employees to do?
Individuals need to feel empowered to take actions that not only protect themselves but also others from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. These actions include:

  • Staying home when ill
  • Frequent hand washing
  • Frequent use of hand sanitizer with a high volume of alcohol
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throwing the tissue away
    • Sneeze or cough into the inside of your elbow
    • Wash hands after handling soiled tissues
  • Avoiding people who are ill
  • Practicing social distancing
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces
  • Staying home as much as possible, including telecommuting for work
  • Monitoring themselves for symptoms of illness, as described above
  • Contacting their health care provider if they suspect they have COVID-19
  • If they are ill and their illness is mild, they should still stay home for:
    • At least seven days from your onset of fever or other symptoms, if you never had a fever and
    • At least 72 hours after your temperature returns to normal. If you never had a fever, then stay home until 72 hours after your other symptoms have improved.

As managers, you need to send employees home if it is not appropriate for them to be at work. It is everyone’s responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19.