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DHEC issues COVID-19 guidelines for businesses

Staff Report //March 16, 2020//

DHEC issues COVID-19 guidelines for businesses

Staff Report //March 16, 2020//

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The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has issued guidance and strategies (.pdf) to help businesses make informed decisions related to the new coronavirus.

DHEC said South Carolina had 28 positive cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday evening. The first coronavirus-related death in South Carolina was reported Monday morning in Lexington County.

Symptoms of the new coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure.

DHEC said businesses should create an infectious disease outbreak response plan, which may include flexible worksites and work hours to increase physical distance among employees.

Businesses should also identify essential functions and critical elements required to maintain business operations and plan for how the business will operate if an increased number of employees become sick or if supply chains are interrupted.

Businesses should actively encourage sick employees to stay home and talk to companies that provide contract or temporary employees about the importance of sick employees staying home. Employers also should make sure they have flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member, DHEC said.

If an employee arrives to work with symptoms of a respiratory illness, such as a cough or shortness of breath, they should be separated from other employees and sent home immediately, according to DHEC.

The workplace should be routinely cleaned, with emphasis placed on frequently touched surfaces such as workstations, countertops and doorknobs. Employers should also provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces, including keyboards, remote controls and desks, can be wiped by employees prior to use. DHEC said no additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended at this time.

DHEC recommends that employers with multiple locations provide local managers with the authority to take appropriate actions based on the condition in their specific area.

If an employee is traveling, DHEC said employers should make sure the employee follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel health notices for the latest guidance and recommendations.

The CDC recommended on Sunday that all events of 50 people or more be canceled or postponed for the next eight weeks. The recommendation does not apply to the day-to-day operations of schools, institutes of higher learning or businesses, though Gov. Henry McMaster has closed all schools to students through March 31.

If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to the virus but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.