SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — If someone working in a business tests positive for coronavirus, officials say not to panic, and though the issue is complicated, it doesn’t mean the business needs to shut down.
The health director said they have been flooded with calls about this very topic, so she was anxious to give her advice.
“Employers must realize this is really anxiety-prone for many people,” Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said.
Haushalter said coronavirus has started seeping in workplaces around the area, from hospitals and police departments to stores.
She said when there’s a confirmed case, her team is called into action.
“Work with that person to identify the contacts,” Haushalter said. “We also reach out to their employers to identify contacts and determine who needs to be removed from the workplace and be placed on quarantine.”
Haushalter said when someone tests positive for COVID-19, it doesn’t mean the whole business needs to shut down.
She said the only people who need to be isolated or quarantined: the person with the virus and the people who came in direct contact with the infected person.
“Other coworkers are really OK unless for some reason that contact becomes ill,” Haushalter said.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland as well as many other mayors in the Mid-South have mandated people stay at home to contain the spread of COVID-19. Only essential businesses are allowed to remain open.
Haushalter said those businesses must remain vigilant, allow employees to work at home if they can, frequently sanitize the building and high-touch areas and don’t let employees who are ill into the office.
“Really demonstrating that there is action being taken to reduce transmission,” Haushalter said. “We don’t know how quickly it’s spreading in some environments, so you have to appreciate as an employer the anxiety of your employees.”
Haushalter said another thing that can create anxiety, employers cannot release the name of the person who tests positive.
She said if her team believes you are at risk, they will contact you. If you feel like you may have been exposed to someone, you can always call the health department’s hotline at 833-943-1658.