Businesses face loose guidelines when workers test positive for COVID-19

"No, it is not required that a business goes public," Jason Davis with Lane County Public Health said.

Posted: Jul 30, 2020 6:35 PM
Updated: Jul 30, 2020 8:15 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- When a business has a couple employees test positive for COVID-19, what comes next?

While there are far fewer cases than in a workplace outbreak -- which are required to be reported by Oregon Health Authority -- some feel businesses should be completely transparent no matter how many cases there are.  

"No, it is not required that a business goes public," said Jason Davis with Lane County Public Health. 

Although it's not required, Davis said there is a lot that goes into identifying cases in a public place or business behind the scenes.

Davis said Lane County Public Health will have conversations with the business and weigh the pros and cons of notifying the public.

However, the exception to this is if there are five or more cases in a business or ten or more cases in a social setting. Then it is considered a cluster and Lane County Public Health will announce it.

Davis said he has seen a lot of businesses in our area make this information known because there are several benefits to doing so.

"Social media has made it to where things spread rapidly and sometimes there are rumors associated with those cases so they can nip it in the bud by being able to announce the case, give context and maybe talk about how our conversations with them have gone," Davis said. 

Davis said they have several consultations with them and recommend CDC guidelines and steps they should take to ensure its a safe and healthy environment for both customers and staff.

But it is a case-by-case basis, depending on the type of business it is and different variables regarding the case.

"We have a specific business team that works in a preventative capacity helping businesses understand guidance and how they can prevent cases," Davis said. 

Some local business owners said the lack of guidance is frustrating and is causing some businesses to stay closed. 

"It's almost a moral issue since there is no guidelines and there is nothing you really need to do, do you do what you think is right and shut your business down and suffer that angle or do you just go business as usual?"

A local restaurant worker told KEZI 9 News that not having specific protocol in place causes employees to feel unsafe. 

"We were never asked to get tested, we were just sent home after cleaning and told to return the next day." 

Davis said if any employee believes the business is not doing what they should be in terms of safety they should contact OSHA immediately. 

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