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Guidance for food facilities when an employee tests Positive for COVID-19


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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. This guidance document is to help businesses and workplaces plan, prepare, and respond to COVID-19, according to the general guidance provided by the US Centers of Disease Control (CDC.)

COVID-19 is being spread in the communities of Sonoma County. Businesses and employers can prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19. One example of slowing the spread of COVID-19 is complying with Appendix B of the Stay Well Sonoma County Order (C19-15) to ensure that employees use facial coverings properly. However, at some point, you may have employees develop symptoms that are consistent with COVID and you may have questions about what you should do next. If you are a business owner and one of your employees has tested positive for COVID-19, the county requires the following: 

  1. Cease operations, close your facility, and thoroughly clean and sanitize it. Facilities should follow CDC's instructions for cleaning and disinfecting. Your facility can reopen as soon as it is cleaned and sanitized.
  2. Instruct the sick employee to self-isolate at home. Sick employees must follow the Updated Public Health Emergency Isolation Order for COVID-19 and Home Isolation Instructions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Employees may return to work when the following conditions have been met:
    • At least 10 days* have passed since the beginning of the symptoms or the date of the positive test, AND
    • At least 24 hours with no fever (above 100°F) without the use of fever-reducing medications, AND
    • COVID-19 symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, chills, etc.) have improved
    • Persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 who never develop symptoms may discontinue isolation 10 days after the date of their first positive test
    • Follow the CDC: Discontinuation of Isolation for Persons with COVID-19 Not in Healthcare Settings

*There are exceptions for which recommended isolation is longer, for people who have severe disease or certain immune-compromising conditions. Consult with Sonoma County Public Health Nursing/Disease Control at (707) 565-4566 if you have questions.

What about workers who may have been exposed to a sick co-worker, family member, friend or person in the community?

  • One of the best ways to keep your workforce healthy is to ensure that sick workers or people with any COVID-19 symptoms, even mild or early ones, do not come to work. This helps protect everyone.
  • Refer to the  Workplace COVID-19 Exposure guidelines for employers guidance.
  • Work with Public Health nursing to identify potential "close contacts" and require that they adhere to the Health Emergency Quarantine Order No. C19-12-Q for COVID-19.
  • For food facilities, it is recommended that a "close contact" include other food workers that have been within approximately 6 feet of the affected person for more than 15 minutes total over a 24-hour period during the infectious period. The infectious period is 48 hours before symptoms begin, or date of positive test for people with no symptoms, and continues for 10 days after symptoms, or after the test.
  • Food facility workers who work in the same facility as someone with a positive COVID-19 test result or COVID-19 symptoms but are not defined as a "close contact" and do not have symptoms should: 

A note from a healthcare provider to stay home with COVID-19-like symptoms is not required

What about food facility workers who share a household with someone who has a COVID-19 diagnosis or is sick with COVID-19-like symptoms?

Food facility workers who share a household with someone who has the symptoms of COVID-19 or has a positive COVID-19 test result must stay out of work. They should separate from the sick person while at home as much as possible and follow the instructions outlined in the Health Emergency Quarantine Order No. C19-12-Q for COVID-19.  For additional guidance for Quarantine and Isolation at home see Home Isolation and Quarantine Instructions for People with or likely to have COVID-19 and their Household or Close Contact.

Do I need to do any special cleaning or disinfection of my business?

  • Your business should be thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing high-touch surfaces such as countertops, door handles, touchscreens, phones, keyboards, faucets and bathroom fixtures, light switches, and equipment handles throughout their daily operations. 
    • Use disinfectants approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19 for all non-food contact surfaces (such as bathroom fixtures, doors handles, service counters, etc.) 
    • Bring as much fresh air into your facility as possible. Keep doors or windows closed or use tight-fitting screens to prevent the entrance of flying insects and/or rodents. Running your HVAC system or ventilation system can help bring in fresh air. 
    • Food facilities should continue to use approved sanitizers on all food contact surfaces (including multi-use utensils and equipment, and work surfaces such as prep tables and sink drainboards). 

For questions about COVID-19 please visit or contact 2-1-1. Food facility operators with specific questions related to your food facility please contact Sonoma County Environmental Health at or by leaving a message at (707) 565-6565.