What To Do If Your Coworker Tests Positive For COVID

Since we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, concerns about spreading the virus have been escalating as more businesses start to open their doors slowly. But what happens when your coworker or someone in their home shows symptoms of COVID-19? And what happens if they come to work knowing that they have COVID-19?

Now, I didn’t think I’d come across this problem at my work but lo and behold I have. Recently, I was working at a different office than my usual one when an employee showed up to work knowing her daughter had COVID-19 symptoms after being in contact with her coworker who tested positive. Typically, you’d think she’d stay home but she figured she was fine so she showed up anyway — despite them living in the same home in close quarters. 

To say I was pissed is an understatement. I was outraged that someone could be so senseless, clueless, selfish, and entitled. 

So, as I bitterly disinfected every object in my path while thinking about how close to me she was that morning, it dawned on me: What do we even do at work if this kind of thing happens?

Truthfully, we didn’t know. We had guidelines provided by the Canadian government to keep us safe but we didn’t have a plan if such a tiny office became exposed. Nor did we anticipate the following steps that involved notifying clients, contractors, and other people who may have touched mailings or been in the office. So we did some research and quickly created a plan that worked to ensure everyone’s safety. 

If someone in your workplace shows up sick or after being in close contact with someone showing symptoms of coronavirus, here are the steps you should take. 

1. Speak to your boss. 

Every region in the world has its own COVID-19 laws, as does each company. If your boss doesn’t know that, bring it to their attention. Your employers should be screening employees before each shift, and this incident proves that this rule should be implemented for the safety of everyone. Next, ask about what safety measures you should take to sanitize your work area and continue to keep people safe. 

2. Disinfect everything.

The first thing to do after speaking with upper management and creating a safety plan is to disinfect every single thing you can think of. Each employee should handle their own work station. What’s more, one employee should be responsible for cleaning common areas such as lunchrooms or filing cabinets. Moving forward, all companies should implement a rule that every object or piece of equipment you touch, you should sanitize with wipes provided after use. 

3. Get tested.

After you hear of someone testing positive, you too should get tested. Book an appointment at your local testing center, or join the long line. In most places, it takes approximately two days to get your results back. And if you live with someone, they should be tested too. For more information on the testing itself, check this article on types of covid tests.

4. Self-isolate.

While you wait for your test results or are experiencing symptoms but tested negative, it’s best to self-isolate at home. If you live with others, it’s strongly advised they do the same since you are both share common areas in the house and can pass germs to each other. 

5. Report back to your boss when you get your results.

If you are experiencing no symptoms and test negative, then go back to work. However, remember that some employers require to see your test results. And if you test positive, report it to your work and anyone you may have been in contact with. Then begin your two-week self-quarantine. 

If someone knows they have COVID-19 and come into your workplace anyway, they are assholes. While I understand everyone needs money, I don’t care about selfish people like that. Luckily, the majority of workplaces are offering paid sick leave for those struggling. Nevertheless, the common sense to stay home still isn’t there for people. 

Additionally, in Canada, you can be criminally liable and fined at least $5,000 if you are caught not quarantining after testing positive. On top of that, you can get written up or lose your job for the intent to harm your coworkers. Other countries have similar laws in place, so this really is a serious issue. 

It’s okay to be mad and frustrated that despite being responsible and doing your part, you still get exposed due to someone else’s stupidity. I know I was, and as were my of my coworkers and our families. Just be honest and do your part to help keep your community safe. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and stay away from people if you can. But most importantly, be honest. After all, we’re all in this together.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash


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