Public health gives COVID-19 guidance for businesses

Trinity Muscatine Public Health has released new guidelines for businesses open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MUSCATINE, Iowa—Trinity Muscatine Public Health, in coordination with the Iowa Department of Public Health, released new guidance for essential businesses operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Preventing Outbreaks

  • Implement measures to enable social distancing as much as possible.
  • Consider staggering shifts to reduce worker population at any given time.
  • Stagger breaks to reduce staff interactions.
  • Identify ways to increase the physical separation of staff.
  • Prioritize hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette among employees.
  • Provide or allow employees to wear cloth face-masks.
  • Provide hand sanitizer or hand-washing opportunities frequently.

Detecting Outbreaks

  • Screen all employees by taking their temperature and assessing for cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing or other respiratory symptoms at the beginning and end of each shift. For a screening algorithm visit:
  • Exclude all employees reporting fever or respiratory symptoms (direct them to stay home and isolate themselves from other people and animals in the home) until they:
    • Have had no fever for at least 72 hours (three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers) and
    • Other symptoms have improved (for example, when cough or shortness of breath have improved) and
    • At least seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
  • Follow exclusion criteria with all symptomatic employees, regardless of whether they undergo testing (even if the employee tests negative for COVID-19 infection).
  • Report to the Iowa Department of Public Health when 10% or more of employees show COVID-19 symptoms (including fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, or other respiratory symptoms). Report to public health by filling out the survey at this link:

Managing Outbreaks

  • Coordinate with your occupational health provider to define a pathway to test symptomatic employees.
  • Public health will approve State Hygienic Laboratory testing for symptomatic employees during outbreaks.
  • The occupational health provider or employees’ personal health providers take the nasopharyngeal swab for testing and following-up for medical care as needed.
  • When employees test positive for COVID-19 infection, public health and occupational health will work jointly to investigate cases and identify the following contacts:
    • household contacts.
    • rideshare partners.
    • co-workers with prolonged contact (within six feet of the case for at  least 30 minutes).
  • All of these contacts must stay at home and isolate themselves from other people and  animals in the home for 14 days after the last known exposure to a person with COVID-19.
  • Businesses should consider excluding high-risk employees when outbreaks are ongoing. High-risk employees include the following:
    • People aged 65 years and older.
    • People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including:
    • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma.
    • People who have serious heart conditions.
    • People who are immunocompromised. Many conditions can cause a  person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies,  poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications.
    • People with severe obesity (body mass index of 40 or more).
    • People with diabetes.
    • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis.
    • People with liver disease.

Businesses should make decisions to close based upon workforce availability and the ability to follow the recommended measures outlined above.

  • Outbreaks are defined as greater than 10% of employees ill with COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, or other respiratory symptoms).