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The following is the information needed and steps to take in the event that a food worker has been tested positive for COVID-19.

  1. Immediately send the sick employee home. A person who has tested positive for COVID-19 should remain under home isolation precautions for at least 10 days after symptoms begin AND at least 24 hours after fever is gone and symptoms get better, whichever is longer.

  2. Any staff that HAVE been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 but who have NO SYMPTOMS are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to STAY HOME from work for 14 days after their last close contact and quarantine themselves. They should watch for symptoms: cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or a new loss of taste or smell. This list is not all possible symptoms. Close contact usually includes being within 6 feet (2 meters) of a sick person with COVID-19 for a combined total of 15 minutes or more over the course of 24 hours.

    Under certain conditions, staff that have been in close contact with a positive case, but who do not have symptoms may be allowed to work without quarantine. The following conditions must be met:

    • The workplace lacks adequate workforce to cover for staff who are exposed contacts.

    • The employer submits a COVID prevention and control measures plan to Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC). Submit plan to:
      The following issues are to be addressed in the plan:
    • The plan is approved by PHSKC.

    • The food establishment must demonstrate knowledge and implementation of COVID prevention and control measures.
    • All staff must be trained in the prevention measures and control plan.

  3. If staff have not been in close contact with the sick person, and are not sick, they are considered to be at low risk for infection. They can continue to go to work, but should monitor their health for 14 days and stay away from others if they get sick.

  4. If staff have symptoms, but have not been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and have not tested positive for COVID-19, they should stay home away from others and avoid public places until 24 hours after the fever is gone and symptoms get better.

  5. If workers have symptoms of COVID-19, they should get tested. If they don't have a doctor, call the King County COVID-19 Call Center at 206-477-3977 for assistance. If they do have a doctor, call them to get a test.

  6. Cleaning, sanitizing and ventilation:
    • If possible, wait 24 hours from the last time the sick employee was in the facility, before cleaning and sanitizing the area the worker spent most of their time, to minimize potential exposure for other employees.
    • During this period, open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in these areas.

    Continue routinely cleaning and sanitizing all food preparation surfaces in the facility, and disinfect non-food preparation high touch surfaces, such as restrooms, floors, door handles, keypads, etc. Follow CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations for non-food preparation surfaces.

  7. Reporting cases and protecting employees' privacy: At this time, food business employers are not required to report a single COVID-19 case among employees to Public Health – Seattle & King County. The Health Department will be informed by the healthcare provider that conducted the employee's COVID-19 test.

    Food businesses must notify Public Health within 24 hours if you suspect COVID is spreading in your workplace or if there are two or more confirmed or suspected cases among your employees in a 14-day period.

    If one of your employees has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and may have been in close contact with others while infections, notify other employees they may have been exposed, but do not identify the person who is sick. Report cases online.

Please review employee health policies and procedures with staff. Employee health policies should prohibit food workers from working in food establishments while sick.

The following are links to a King County Public Health handout on recommendations for food establishments as well as original document sources for the above information.