Team ND Managers: FAQs Regarding COVID-19

Help Control Virus Spread

  • Continue to reduce the number of team members in the office through full-time or part-time teleworking and flexible scheduling.
  • Have team members who have laptop computers take them home daily in case they become ill, have a family member that is ill or there is concerns about a positive case in the office. This prevents the need for team members to return to the office to transition back to teleworking.
  • Team members who are sick should stay home. If they have symptoms of COVID-19 they need to stay home and contact their healthcare provider.
  • Encourage team members to stay home if they have a family member that are ill have symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
  • Encourage mask/face covering wearing in public areas and whenever team members are unable to maintain a distance of 6 feet. For the best protection, all team members need to wear a face covering. Please help protect your fellow team members.

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 team members should continue to monitor their health and stay home if they feel ill. All team members should also need to continue to practice social distancing. Agencies are encouraged to have team members work from home unless their job cannot be done remotely. Stay informed with accurate information about COVID-19 on the NDDoH website. In addition, the Agency Director should contact Lisa Kudelka, Chief People Officer and John Boyle, OMB Facilities Director to inform them of the positive case within the agency by the end of the business day. There are additional protocols and cleaning procedures that will need to be implemented.

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 team members 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 team members 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, team members 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. See the NDDoH website for additional information on the self-quarantine time requirements.

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 team members. 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?
Team members 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 team members to report and require team members that are ill to remain at home. Team members 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.

If a team member has recently traveled, what should we do?
Team members can travel freely within the United States. It is encouraged that team members take precautions to prevent transmission of COVID-19, including thorough handwashing, wearing masks, avoiding non-essential travel, and practicing physical distancing.

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. Team members who report to work ill should be reported to management so they can be separated from other team members 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 team members 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.

Can team members use sick leave and annual leave during this time?
There have been several questions on the use of sick leave during the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation. As has always been the case, team members who are experiencing symptoms of illness, can and should, remain at home and are entitled to utilize available leave.

In addition, team members that have been recommended to self-quarantine based upon a positive or presumptive exposure to someone infected with the coronavirus or who have traveled to high risk areas resulting in official recommendations to self-quarantine should be allowed to use available leave benefits for the quarantine period regardless of where the exposure occurred or the reason for the travel. It is critically important that we do not create any obstacles to individuals adhering to recommendations to self-quarantine for the protection of co-workers and the public in general.

Moving forward, managers are reminded that requests for annual leave should be evaluated to determine its impact to agency business and staffing needs. Managers should deny leave requests that will or could present staff shortages or otherwise negatively impact the ability of the agency to serve its constituents. A team member’s travel plans associated with a leave request should be considered in evaluating a request and its impact on staffing and agency business. Managers are expected to use good judgment in approving or denying annual leave requests, including revoking previously authorized leave, based upon the needs of the agency, the reasons for the request and the continually evolving nature of the COVID-19 situation.

What if I am or a team member is in a group considered to be at "high risk" (i.e., I have a chronic health condition which makes me more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus) and for which authorities are recommending staying at home?
Team members who are high-risk should speak with their supervisor and Human Resources. When requested by a team member, teleworking may be considered as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. “Reasonable accommodation” is any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform a job, or gain equal access to the benefits and privileges of a job as long as the accommodation does not cause undue hardship to the agency.

The agency director or designated team member shall initiate an interactive process with the team member to determine the type of accommodation needed. To determine if any or all of a job can be performed at home, the manager must ensure that essential functions of the position have been identified and consideration given to the feasibility of teleworking on a fulltime, part-time, or intermittent basis. The division director may waive certain teleworking eligibility requirements, modify the teleworking policy, or waive or modify other workplace policies to allow a team member with a disability to work from home as a means of reasonable accommodation. Team members will not be able to telework, as an accommodation, if it prevents the team member from performing the essential functions of the job or causes undue hardship to the agency.

The agency director has the right to select the most effective accommodation even if it is not the one preferred by the team member. For additional information, reference the Teleworking Guidelines.

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