COVID-19 affects different people in different ways.
Infected people have had a wide range of symptoms reported – from mild symptoms to severe illness.

 

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

 

People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
    • Fever or chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea

 

Look for Emergency Warning Signs for COVID-19.

If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

 

    • Trouble breathing
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion
    • Inability to wake or stay awake
    • Bluish lips or face

 

Call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

How Well Do Masks Work?

(Schlieren Imaging In Slow Motion!)

WORK-RELATED COVID-19 FAQ's

For a complete list of FAQ’s pertaining to COVID-19 visit the Occupational Safety and Health Administration website.

Q: Should workers wear a cloth face covering while at work, in accordance with the CDC recommendation for all people to do so when in public?

A: “OSHA generally recommends that employers encourage workers to wear face coverings at work.”  However, OSHA also instructs that “[e]mployers have the discretion to determine whether to allow employees to wear cloth face coverings in the workplace based on the specific circumstances present at the worksite.”  OSHA then identifies the following examples of when an employer may determine that wearing cloth face coverings presents or exacerbates a hazard.

  • The cloth face-covering could become contaminated with chemicals used in the work environment, causing workers to inhale the chemicals that collect on the face covering.
  • The cloth face coverings might become damp (from workers breathing) or collect infectious material from the work environment (e.g., droplets of other peoples’ infectious respiratory secretions) over the duration of a work shift.
  • Workers may also need to use PPE that is incompatible with the use of a cloth face covering (e.g., an N95 filtering facepiece respirator).

OSHA further advises that “[w]here cloth face coverings are not appropriate in the work environment or during certain job tasks (e.g., because they could become contaminated or exacerbate heat illness), employers can provide PPE, such as face shields and/or surgical masks, instead of encouraging workers to wear cloth face coverings.”  Thus, OSHA’s response essentially advises that employers should have employees wear some form of face covering, whether it be cloth or PPE where cloth face coverings provide insufficient protection.

Q: Is an employer required to notify other employees if a worker gets COVID-19 or tests positive for COVID-19?

A: “OSHA does not require employers to notify other employees if one of their coworkers gets COVID-19.”  However, OSHA also advises that employers must take appropriate steps to protect other workers from exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, which may include “notifying other workers to monitor themselves for signs/symptoms of COVID-19” after learning of an employee’s confirmed case.  OSHA’s response further notes that the CDC “recommends employers determine which employees may have been exposed to the virus and inform employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.”  Therefore, in most circumstances, the prudent course for employers is to notify employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19 through recent, close contact with an infected employee (without violating federal, state, and local laws on confidentiality and privacy by disclosing the infected employee’s identity) and take additional steps, such as quarantining potentially infected employees, as necessary.  That course is especially advisable in states like California that have separate OSHA-approved State Plan guidance that specifically instructs employers to inform employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.

Q: Can my employer force me to work if I have concerns about COVID-19, including a coworker having tested positive, personal medical concerns, or a high-risk family member living at my home?

A: OSHA advises that employers generally may require employees to work during the COVID-19 pandemic so long as state and local governments permit the employer’s business to remain open.  However, OSHA also notes that section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act provides workers with more than just protection against retaliation for complaints about a health or safety hazard.  Under 29 C.F.R. § 1977.12(b), an employer may not discipline an employee for refusing to work or perform certain assigned tasks under the following circumstances:

  • The worker has a good faith belief that they face death or serious injury;
  • The situation is so clearly hazardous that any reasonable person would believe the same;
  • The situation is so urgent that the worker does not have time to eliminate the hazard through regulatory channels, such as calling OSHA; and
  • The worker tried, where possible, to get his or her employer to correct the condition, was unable to obtain a correction, and there is no other way to do the job safely.[1]

OSHA further instructs employers to consult guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to learn more about reasonable accommodations.

Q: Where can workers find general information about protecting themselves at work during the COVID-19 pandemic?

OSHA’s COVID-19 Safety and Health Topics page provide a variety of resources to help workers protect themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also provides information for businesses, workplaces, and workers, including health and safety steps for specific occupations..

Q: Where can employers find general information about, and requirements for, protecting workers during the COVID-19 pandemic?

OSHA’s COVID-19 Safety and Health Topics page provide the most recent guidance to help employers protect their workers and comply with OSHA requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources include:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also provides information for businesses, workplaces, and workers, including health and safety steps for specific occupations.

Q: What precautions should employers in non-healthcare workplaces take to protect workers from COVID-19?

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (AlertGuidance) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued workplace guidance to guide employers during the COVID-19 outbreak. They describe how employers should develop preparedness plans and communicate those plans to protect workers through effective training. Employers should assess worker exposure to hazards and risks and implement infection prevention measures to reasonably address them consistent with OSHA Standards. Such measures could include promoting frequent and thorough handwashing or sanitizing with at least 60% alcohol hand sanitizer; encouraging workers to stay at home if sick; encouraging the use of cloth face coverings; and training them on proper respiratory etiquette, social distancing, and other steps they can take to protect themselves.. Employers may need to consider using stanchions to help keep workers and others at the worksite at least 6 feet away from each other. Installing temporary barriers and shields and spacing out workstations can also help achieve social distancing recommendations. Employers should clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (e.g., door handles, sink handles, workstations, restroom stalls) at least daily, or as much as possible. Employers subject to OSHA’s PPE standard must also provide and require the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) when needed. Job hazard assessments must be conducted to determine the appropriate type and level of PPE required.

The U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 (Spanish) and OSHA’s Prevent Worker Exposure to COVID-19 alert (Spanish) provide more information on steps all employers can take to reduce workers’ risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

Learn more about preventing the spread of COVID-19 from OSHA and CDC.

Q: Should workers wear a cloth face covering while at work, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation for all people to do so when in public?

OSHA generally recommends that employers encourage workers to wear face coverings at work. Face coverings are intended to prevent wearers who have Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) without knowing it (i.e., those who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic) from spreading potentially infectious respiratory droplets to others. This is known as source control.

Consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation for all people to wear cloth face coverings when in public and around other people, wearing cloth face coverings, if appropriate for the work environment and job tasks, conserves other types of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as surgical masks, for healthcare settings where such equipment is needed most.

Employers have the discretion to determine whether to allow employees to wear cloth face coverings in the workplace based on the specific circumstances present at the worksite. For some workers, employers may determine that wearing cloth face coverings presents or exacerbates a hazard. For example, cloth face coverings could become contaminated with chemicals used in the work environment, causing workers to inhale the chemicals that collect on the face covering. Over the duration of a work shift, cloth face coverings might also become damp (from workers breathing) or collect infectious material from the work environment (e.g., droplets of other peoples’ infectious respiratory secretions). Workers may also need to use PPE that is incompatible with the use of a cloth face covering (e.g., an N95 filtering facepiece respirator).

Where cloth face coverings are not appropriate in the work environment or during certain job tasks (e.g., because they could become contaminated or exacerbate heat illness), employers can provide PPE, such as face shields and/or surgical masks, instead of encouraging workers to wear cloth face coverings. Like cloth face coverings, surgical masks and face shields can help contain the wearer’s potentially infectious respiratory droplets and can help limit the spread of COVID-19 to others.

Note that cloth face coverings are not considered PPE and cannot be used in place of respirators when respirators are otherwise required.

Learn more about cloth face coverings on the CDC website.

Employers should consider evaluating their accessible communication policies and procedures to factor in potentially providing masks with clear windows to facilitate interaction between employees and members of the public who need to lip-read to communicate.

Q: Does OSHA have any COVID-19 guidance for the construction industry?

Yes. OSHA has released guidance specific to the construction industry. You can also find information for all employers and workers on its COVID-19 Safety and Health Topics page, as well as in the U.S. Department of Labor-U.S. Department of Health and Human Services booklet Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 (Spanish).

Q: Where can employers and workers find OSHA's information about returning to work (i.e., resuming operations, including in business that were previously closed due to the pandemic)?

See the Guidance on Returning to Work, which was developed to help employers and workers return to work safely and reopen workplaces that were previously closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers can use the guidance to develop policies and procedures to ensure the safety and health of their employees.

OSHA’s COVID-19 Safety and Health Topics page also provide information for workers and employers that can be adapted to better suit evolving risk levels and necessary control measures in workplaces as states or regions satisfy the gating criteria to progress through the phases of the White House Guidelines for Opening up America Again.

Q: What should employers do when an employee tests positive for COVID-19?

Workers who test positive for COVID-19 will be notified of their results by their healthcare providers or public health department and will likely be advised to self-isolate or seek medical care. OSHA recommends that workers tell their supervisors if they have tested positive for COVID-19 so that employers can take steps, such as cleaning and disinfection, to protect other workers. Employers who become aware of a case among their workers should:

Live COVID-19 Stats by Country