Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Coronavirus Update 7-28-2020: Do you know what to do when an employee tests positive?

Yesterday, the Miami Marlins announced that 14 members of its organization—12 players and two coaches—have tested positive for coronavirus. Most appallingly, however, is a report that the team decided via text message to play its scheduled Sunday game in Philadelphia despite the rash of positive tests. Ignoring the irresponsible selfishness of that decision, it also almost certainly violates Major League Baseball's 100-plus page COVID-19 operations manual, which instructs teams how to handle a positive test. I can guarantee that "tell no one; play your game anyway" is not the recommended best practice.

Other than, "Don't do what the Marlins did," what can we learn from this fiasco in how to handle a positive test among your workforce?

The State of Ohio has specific rules (I've linked the rules for office environments, but these rules are generally the same for all business sectors) that a business must follow upon a confirmed case of COVID-19 among its employees:

  1. Immediately isolate and seek medical care for any individual who develops symptoms while at work.
  2. Contact the local health district about suspected cases or exposures.
  3. Shutdown the facility for deep sanitation if at all possible.

I'd also add a number 4—require any employee who tests positive to isolate per CDC guidelines—and a number 5—communicate the positive test to your other employees.

Additionally, the state recommends the following additional best practices: 

  1. Work with local health department to identify potentially infected or exposed individuals to help facilitate effective contact tracing/notifications.
  2. Once testing is readily available, test all suspected infections or exposures.
  3. Following testing, contact local health department to initiate appropriate care and tracing.

We all have a role to play in keeping healthy and safe during this pandemic. Employees who have tested positive or who suspect they may have COVID-19 have zero business being at work. We can beat this virus, but only if we all take it seriously and all play our part. Continuing operations after an employee tests positive (let alone 14 employees) is irresponsible, reckless, and dangerous. Don't be the Miami Marlins. 

Finally, if you'd rather see and hear what I have to say about this issue instead of read what I have to say about this issue, yesterday Eric Meyer (of the Employer Handbook Blog fame) invited me to join him for a quick Zoom chat to discuss. You can watch the video here.

* Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash