Supervisors update COVID-19 policy for Warren County employees

Published 2:31 pm Thursday, January 20, 2022

Due to recent changes to COVID-19 quarantine guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, employees of Warren County received new guidelines this week.

Discussed at the Warren County Board of Supervisors’ Jan. 10 working session and ratified at Monday’s regular meeting, the new COVID-19 policy will require all county employees to wear masks regardless of vaccination status when they cannot social distance.

“We have a lot of employees who are sick with COVID, and it’s the Omicron variant,” County Administrator Loretta Brantley said on Jan. 10. “Some of the department heads are wanting to know what they should do — how long should the employees stay out?”

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Any employee who has a positive viral test for COVID-19, regardless of whether or not they exhibit symptoms, should not report to work until the following criteria are met. Those who are exhibiting symptoms and are either waiting on a test result or have not tested should not report to work if they’re experiencing the following.

Symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Fever (100.4 or higher)
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea 
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache

Employees may return to work after they have been in isolation at least five full days, as per CDC advisement, and have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of medication. Employees in congregate settings where six feet of separation is not possible, including correctional or detention facilities, must observe 10-day minimum isolation in addition to exhibiting no fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.

The reason for the 10-day quarantine for employees in congregate settings is due to a request from Sheriff Martin Pace, Board President Kelle Barfield said during the Jan. 10 working session.

“The section with exceptions (to the five-day quarantine period) was at the request of the sheriff, because he was having issues with deputies who were going to (the doctor) and being told, ‘You can come back to work,’ but in a jail, you can’t not be around other people,” Barfield said. “He prefers they be out for that longer period and not, as he put it, ‘have a deputy respond to an emergency call… and potentially infecting somebody.”

The CDC defines Day 1 as the first full day after symptoms developed or after exposure to someone with COVID-19.

Employees directly exposed (within six feet for more than 15 minutes over a 24-hour period) to someone who has tested positive are not expected to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated and show no symptoms of COVID-19.

Employees directly exposed to someone who has tested positive are expected to quarantine if they do not show proof of being fully vaccinated. The quarantine period is five days from the most recent exposure without a COVID test or without proof of vaccination.

An employee can return to work if they do not develop symptoms and test negative at least five days after their last close contact with someone with COVID-19. Any employee who returns to work after direct exposure to someone who has tested positive should continue to wear a well-fitting mask when around others until 10 days after the most recent close contact with someone with COVID.

Any employee away from work for illness or quarantine must use personal sick time or vacation time or leave without pay to cover the absence.