Published February 17, 2021
CONSIDERATIONS FOR RETURNING TO WORK AMID COVID-19
If you’re going back to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have some questions and concerns. This article compiles guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help keep you informed.
3 Essential Things to Know
If you remember nothing else from this guidance, let it be these three things:
1. Generally, the more closely you interact with others and the longer those interactions last, the higher your COVID-19 exposures are.
2. Continue to protect yourself by practicing everyday preventive actions even after returning to work.
3. Keep a mask, tissues and hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol nearby at all times, if possible.
This section includes questions and answers that can help inform your return to the workplace.
What do I do if I have COVID-19 or may have been exposed to it?
If you have or think you might have COVID-19, you should isolate, regardless of whether or not you have symptoms. If you might have been exposed to COVID-19, you should stay home. This is called quarantine.
What should I do if someone in my household is at increased risk of severe illness?
If you are at increased risk for severe illness, check with your employer to see if there are policies and practices in place to reduce your risk at work, like telework or modified job responsibilities.
What should primary caregivers for children know?
Primary caregivers should review this information about caring for children. If someone else will be providing care for a household member who is at increased risk of severe illness or needs extra precautions, ask them to review this information.
Are there ways I can minimize the number of people I interact with?
In addition to any measures your workplace may have implemented to reduce your risk (e.g., installing barriers), you can take further steps to minimize the number of people you interact with, such as utilizing virtual meetings. Interacting with more people raises your risk, since some people may have COVID-19 and not know it because they have no symptoms. As such, when interacting with other people, wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart and limit the length of the interaction as much as possible.
For what length of time is it safe to interact with others?
The answer to this question is still largely unknown. As such, the CDC recommends brief in-person interactions or no interactions at all. Spending more time with people who may be infected increases your risk of becoming infected. And, if there is any chance that you may already have COVID-19, spending more time with people increases their risk of becoming infected.