COVID- 19 Symptom Checking and Contact Tracing

Most every state, including Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, are suggesting or requiring symptom checks as a way for employers and others to know if COVID-19 is present in a workplace. The most typical symptom check is to take employees’ temperatures to see if it is normal, or 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Employers are also being asked to track this information to help create a strong foundation for contact tracing.

In Colorado, all employers must implement symptom monitoring protocols (including workplace temperature monitoring and symptom screening questions) where possible. Colorado employers with over 50 employees must implement those protocols by:

  • Setting up stations at the worksite for symptom screening and temperature checks; OR
  • Creating a business policy that requires at-home employee self-screening each work day and reporting of the results to the employer prior to entering the worksite.

When employers begin to think about testing and tracing, they have many questions.

Q: Does the employer have to be the one to take the temperatures?

A: Ideally, the answer is yes, as employers would then have direct knowledge of employees’ temperatures. If you want to take temperatures, this video is helpful. There is more detailed information here. Be sure to understand protocols concerning cleaning thermometers between uses.

Q: How often should temperatures be taken?

A: Temperatures should be taken once a day. If the temperature is above 99.2, the temperature should be taken twice a day for the next seven days.

Q: At what point should an employee be sent home due to their temperature?

A: The general recommendation is 100.4 degrees. Some institutions are requiring those with a temperature of 100 to leave their premises.

Q: Can employees take their own temperature?

A: Yes. While having temperatures taken by the employer provides for greater control and may be ideal, you can require employees to take their temperature every day, and twice for seven days is at any point it is higher than 99.2 degrees.

Q: Can we require job candidates to take their temperature, or have us take their temperature?

A: Yes, you can control your work environment.

Q: How do we log temperatures?

A: The video above has clear instructions on how to log temperatures if an employer is taking temperatures at their workplace. If employees are taking their own temperatures, they should have a form to fill in each day.

Q: Are there any precautions to take when logging temperatures?

A: Yes. Make sure you keep the logs confidential so that employee identities are not exposed.

Q: What kind of thermometers are best?

A: If you are doing screening at your workplace, a thermometer that you can place on the forehead is best because it can be cleaned between each use. For employees, a digital thermometer may be ideal. Thermometers with mercury can be difficult to read. If it is affordable, the employer may provide thermometers to employees.

Q: What if an employee has a temperature over 100.4 degrees?

A: Most employees must report symptoms to their state authorities:

In addition, all employers should:

  • Send symptomatic employees home immediately.
  • Increase cleaning in your facility and require social distancing of staff at least six feet apart from one another.
  • Exclude employees until they are fever-free, without medication, for 72 hours, and ten days have passed since their first symptom.
  • If multiple employees have these symptoms, contact your local health department.
  • Eliminate or regularly clean and disinfect any items in common spaces, such as break rooms, that are shared between individuals, such as condiments, coffee makers, vending machines.