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What To Do: Positive COVID-19 Test & Contact Tracing

What to expect if you are contacted by the DC Contact Trace Force. DC Health will contact your close contacts to prevent others from being exposed to COVID-19. DC Health will not identify you to those close contacts. The health department will give you guidance and resources. This will help you manage your isolation and self-care through your illness and recovery. 
A contact tracer will interview you to learn the details of your exposure to the case. Staff will identify the date of last exposure to determine your quarantine period. A quarantine period is usually 14 days after the date you were last exposed to the person with COVID-19. This is the period you could develop symptoms of COVID-19 from your exposure to the case. During the quarantine, you will avoid being in close contact with others.
If they call you, the caller ID will say “DC COVID19 Team” on any phone with any carrier. You WILL NEVER be asked for your immigration status, social security number (SSN), bank account details or credit card numbers. Learn more about what to expect if contacted.

If you have received a positive COVID-19 result:

Steps to Take

  • STEP ONE: Call or email your local Department of Health and report the case.
    They can also provide specific guidance for your restaurant on how to handle operations and disinfecting.
    • DC: Email DC DOH; OR; Call 202-442-5955
    • VA:
      • Arlington County: Email Arlington Health; Call 703-228-7400
      • Fairfax County: Email VDH; Call 703-246-2411
      • City of Alexandria: Call 703-746-4951
      • Loudoun County: Email LCH; Call 703-777-0234
    • MD:
      • Maryland Guide to DOH by County: MDH
      • Montgomery County: Email MCH; Call 301-251-4850
      • Prince Georges County: Call 301-883-7879
  • STEP TWO: Determine if your restaurant needs to shut down for additional cleaning. According to the CDC, in most cases, you do not need to shut down your facility. 
    • If it has been 7 days or more since the sick employee used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary. Your continued routine cleaning and disinfecting of all high-touch surfaces in the facility is sufficient. 
    • If it has been less than 7 days since the sick employee has been in the facility, close off any areas used for prolonged periods of time by the sick person. Wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting to minimize potential for other employees being exposed to respiratory droplets. If waiting 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
    • CDC cleaning and sanitizing information can be found here
  • STEP THREE: Exclude the employee from the facility until cleared by their healthcare provider to return to work.
  • STEP FOUR: Notify employees that a co-worker they have been in contact with has tested positive for COVID-19. All employees from the food establishment that have come into contact with a positive case of COVID-19 should be restricted from the establishment.
  • STEP FIVE: Encourage employees who came in contact with the infected person to get tested. Testing Site Info: DC, VA, MD. For local rapid testing resources, click here. 

It is also recommended that you proactively contact your insurance agent before reopening to inquire as to whether you are covered for liability in the event a guest contracts COVID-19 and claims they became infected from your restaurant.

DC Guidance for Close Contact Exposure

First and foremost, in any circumstance, if a person tests positive for COVID-19, they should be excluded from work immediately and begin their quarantine regardless of vaccination status. 

DC Health guidance provides fully vaccinated people who have been notified that they have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 generally do not need to quarantine, or be restricted from work, or be tested, however, they should 1) notify their doctor and 2) monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days from their exposure. If they develop any symptoms, they should immediately get tested and isolate. If they test positive for COVID-19, they should isolate for a minimum of 10 days and follow the guidance of the healthcare provider or contact tracer. If they test negative, they can return to work immediately. For more information click here.

DC Health guidance provides that individuals that are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 who are within close contact of a person who tested positive, should contact a health care provider and self-quarantine immediately for a minimum of 10 days. Depending on how you were notified of your close contact exposure, your healthcare provider or contact tracer will provide additional counseling and quarantine measures, as each case is nuanced which may result in shorter or longer quarantine windows. For more information click here.

In all instances, the contact tracer or healthcare provider will provide guidance on exact measures that should be taken by the individual, as each person has unique health issues. If your employee comes to you as the employer for guidance, you can share this information, but also counsel your employee to connect directly with the contact tracer who notified them of exposure for guidance specific to their situation. 

As a reminder, close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of an individual with COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes over a 24 hour period, while the person was infectious.