DOH Testing Teams Require Staff to Wear Full PPE Including Eye Protection Under Special Conditions
Senior living communities should not lose sight of the potential risks that cause staff to be quarantined. Whenever a person tests positive for COVID-19, the county health department conducts an investigation to identify everybody the positive person has had contact with over the past 14 days. As part of this investigation, the county health department will evaluate the nature of the contact, determine the risk of exposure (e.g., low, medium, high), and recommend courses of action for the exposed persons.
As a starting point, for all evaluations of risk, investigators will ask if staff had prolonged close contact with a resident with COVID-19 (beginning 48 hours before symptom onset). Source control – ie: residents wearing masks during care – is a key measurement in the determination of risk. Eye protection for health care personnel – in addition to face masks – is also used as a marker between a low and a medium risk assessment.
In assisted living facilities, especially memory care units and other settings where residents are not wearing masks, this clinical judgment and CDC guidance becomes particularly important when it comes down to a positive resident’s previous prolonged close contact with staff.
In other words, it is very likely that your county health department will quarantine your staff (wearing a face mask/respirator but not eye protection) who has prolonged close contact with a resident who subsequently tests positive for COVID19.
Epidemiologic Risk Classification for Asymptomatic Healthcare Personnel Following Exposure to Patients with COVID-19 or their Secretions/Excretions in a Healthcare Setting, and their Associated Monitoring and Work Restriction Recommendations
) is used by County representatives deciding to issue a request to quarantine exposed staff for 14 days. Of note, too, are the Table 1 footnotes that describe additional scenarios.
FSLA has confirmed that every county health department should be using the same methodology for evaluating risks and determining work restrictions. Every community will need to make its best clinical judgment for how to balance the risks of having staff quarantined vs the extent and situations varying levels of PPE should be worn.