|While the newest stay at home Governor’s orders that began November 18th and will last for the next 2-4+ weeks, do not specifically restrict veterinary practice operations, it is important to review and assess rules, provisions, and guidance for employees as we move into this ‘freeze’ period.
Our community, consistent with the overall increase in cases across the region, is seeing an increased number of employees confirmed and presumed positive with COVID. It is important we collectively work to keep our our colleagues, clients, and loved ones safe and healthy.
In addition to the new OSHA Rule provisions, Dr. DeBess and OHA have provided supporting guidance as more veterinary practices are being directly impacted by ill or positive employees. Much of it is similar to previous guidance and is in alignment with the OSHA rule finalized last week, but the more it can be shared to support your team through a stressful time, the better.
Veterinary clinics are a part of the health care system.
To ensure the health & safety of veterinary clinic staff and pet owners, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) recommends taking the following precautions.
1. Staff should take their temperature at home prior to work.
2. Upon arrival, ask staff about any symptoms such as:
· sore throat
· loss of smell or taste
If any of the symptoms are present, staff should not be allowed to work.
Any staff member exposed to a confirmed case outside of the veterinary facility setting (households, friends, etc.) should not work and be quarantined for 14 days.
Quarantine is mandatory regardless of a negative test.
COVID Confirmed and Presumptive Positive Team Members
When veterinary staff have tested positive for SARS-CoV-19 in a veterinary setting, it is necessary to help the local health authority with contact tracing to identify those exposed to COVID-19.
· Exposed individuals should be advised to get tested as per testing guidelines (page 3, section 3).
· Exposed individuals may be quarantined for 14 days.
· Only with the approval of the local Health Officer, exposed individuals may only work with other exposed individuals as a cohort for 14 days. No additional staff can be added to the cohort once the 14-day period begins.
· Exposed individuals may not attend gatherings, outings or have extended contact with anyone else outside of their home during the 14 days.
· When at home, exposed individuals should wear a face covering and follow OHA quarantine guidance for 14 days to limit exposure to other household members.
· If one of the exposed individuals within the cohort were to test positive within the 14-day quarantine, then all exposed cohort members should be sent home and again quarantined for 14 days from their last exposure.
COVID-19 infection notification process
Employers must establish a mechanism for notifying both exposed and affected employees within 24 hours of the employer’s knowledge of a potential COVID-19 workplace exposure (e.g. an individual with COVID-19 in the workplace.)
Medical removal (quarantine and return to work)
Whenever OHA, the local public health agency or medical provider recommends an employee be restricted from work due to quarantine or isolation for COVID-19, such as through identification during contact tracing activities, the affected worker(s) must be directed to remain at home and away from other non-quarantined individuals. Quarantined individuals must be allowed to work from home if suitable work is available. The affected individual is entitled to return to their previous job duties if they are still available. Return-to-work and testing decisions must be made in concordance with public health guidance and the employee’s medical provider.
Full OHA Guidance (PDF)