COVID-19 UPDATE: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers

March 16, 2020

CDC and SC DHEC have provided the following information for businesses and employers regarding COVID-19.

Recommended strategies for employers to use now:

Actively encourage sick employees to stay home:

o Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay
home and not come to work until they are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater
using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24
hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g.
cough suppressants). Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are
o Ensure that your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance
and that employees are aware of these policies.
o Talk with companies that provide your business with contract or temporary employees
about the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop
non-punitive leave policies.
o Do not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute
respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as healthcare provider
offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such
documentation in a timely way.
o Employers should maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care
for a sick family member. Employers should be aware that more employees may need to
stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual.


Separate sick employees:

o CDC recommends that employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms
(i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day
should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately. Sick
employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
(or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).
Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all

o Place posters that encourage staying home when sick, cough and sneeze etiquette,
and hand hygiene at the entrance to your workplace and in other workplace areas where
they are likely to be seen.
o Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by employees.
o Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that
contains at least 60-95% alcohol, or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20
seconds. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
o Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace. Ensure that
adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs in multiple locations or in conference
rooms to encourage hand hygiene.
o Visit the coughing and sneezing etiquette and clean hands webpage for more
Perform routine environmental cleaning:

o Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations,
countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas
and follow the directions on the label.
o No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended at this time.
o Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs,
keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use.

Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps:

o Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations
for each country to which you will travel. Specific travel information for travelers going to
and returning from China, and information for aircrew, can be found at on the CDC
o Advise employees to check themselves for symptoms of acute respiratory illness before
starting travel and notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
o Ensure employees who become sick while traveling or on temporary assignment
understand that they should notify their supervisor and should promptly call a healthcare
provider for advice if needed.
o If outside the United States, sick employees should follow your company’s policy for
obtaining medical care or contact a healthcare provider or overseas medical assistance
company to assist them with finding an appropriate healthcare provider in that country. A
U.S. consular officer can help locate healthcare services. However, U.S. embassies,
consulates, and military facilities do not have the legal authority, capability, and resources
to evacuate or give medicines, vaccines, or medical care to private U.S. citizens overseas.

• Additional Measures in Response to Currently Occurring Sporadic Importations of the

o Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19
should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk
assessment of their potential exposure.
o If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow
employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain



This guidance is based on what is currently known about the transmission and severity of coronavirus
disease 2019 (COVID-19). The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC)
will update this guidance as needed and as additional information becomes available. This document is
intended to be statewide guidance to help both businesses and employers inform their decision making.
Decisions businesses, employers and local public health officials should be determined by the specific
circumstances in local jurisdictions.


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