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A worker tests positive for COVID: Why the business doesn't have to shut down.

The business isn't required to tell co-workers who it was either. The Guilford County Health Department explains why.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — You ordered take-out. A restaurant worker now has COVID. A worker in a grocery store has COVID. You just shopped there. Someone in your office has COVID.

When one of these happens, you email and call WFMY News 2 and ask,
"Why wasn't I told? Shouldn't the business shut down? How can I be sure cleaning is happening?"

2WTK took these questions to the Guilford County Health Department. The process is: when a business has a COVID case, they call their county health department.

“I ask them what their steps are. When are you cleaning? Who is doing the cleaning? What are you using? So, that starts first,” explained Paula Cox, Guilford County Environmental Health Manager. 

“Typically, it's the decision of the business, if they only have a couple of cases, whether they do the 24 hours and clean or if they are going to shut down,” Cox said.

Takeaway #1

There is no requirement for businesses to shut down due to a COVID case.
The health department said each situation is different and is handled case by case.

Takeaway #2

Employers are not required to tell you who in your office has COVID.
The health department decides who needs to know.

“Just because you were in the elevator with someone, you passed them on the stairs, or walked by them in the bathroom does not mean you are in close contact with them,” Cox said.

What is close contact? Fifteen minutes of discussion at one time or throughout the day, within six feet of each other. Mask or no mask, it doesn’t matter. It's the proximity and the time spent with infected droplets.

The only time the health department actually goes to business to do on-site visits is when there is a cluster of cases. A cluster is defined as five or more cases within a period of a week.