COVID-19 case reporting: Roles for Employees and Supervisors

Updated August 8, 2020: Additional information about COVID-19 testing and what employees and students should do in the event of a positive test has been released by University Health Services. 

Originally posted on July 17, 2020: 

This document outlines the response expected of individuals and supervisors when an employee of SMPH tests positive for COVID-19. Subsequent direction and guidelines are expected from university leadership. The processes outlined below may change over time as the epidemic and related university policies evolve.

Responsibilities of an individual who has tested positive:

  1. If you have received a positive COVID-19 test result, you must isolate immediately, following CDC guidance:
    • If you are asymptomatic or non-symptomatic, you must isolate for ten days without symptoms after the positive test.
    • If you have COVID-19 symptoms (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, or diarrhea), or develop COVID-19 symptoms, you must isolate until there has been at least three days with no fever (without fever-reducing medication), your respiratory symptoms are improving, and ten days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
  2. You are expected to report your positive test result to an SMPH Divisional Disability Representative (DDR) by emailing the DDR team at smph-fmla@med.wisc.edu. This is particularly important if you have been working in a university or UW Health facility, but it is an expectation for all employees. If you choose, you may also report to your supervisor, department chair or center director, or department/center administrator. Confidentiality for employees who test positive for COVID-19 is provided under federal regulations.
  3. Notify your supervisor that you are unable to report to work.
  4. There is an additional, outside process that is important to be aware of. A positive test result will automatically activate a contact tracer from Public Health Madison & Dane County or University Health Services. The contact tracer will reach out to you to identify all individuals you have been in close contact with so that others may be notified (again, your identity will be protected). Note that “close contact” requires close proximity for long periods of time, generally within six feet for fifteen minutes or more (either during one encounter or cumulative over the course of one day), which rarely occurs within SMPH workspaces under current restricted workplace conditions. You are not required to do any contact tracing. That is the responsibility of public health authorities.

Responsibilities of the supervisor, department chair and department or center administrator

  1. Notify your Human Resources Manager, who will serve as the primary resource for the supervisor/chair/director/administrator on the necessary steps.
  2. If the employee voluntarily informs you of a positive test, direct the individual to the SMPH Divisional Disability Representative (DDR) team at smph-fmla@med.wisc.edu and report the positive case to the DDR. The DDR will serve as the primary resource for the employee. The name of the individual who tested positive may be communicated ONLY to the Divisional Disability Representative or the HR Manager. Do not communicate the name to anyone else. Confidentiality for employees who test positive for COVID-19 is provided under federal regulations. The DDR is permitted to ask employees whether they test positive for COVID-19.
  3. University Health Services (UHS) will notify other individuals in the workplace who may have been exposed. This is not the responsibility of the supervisor.
  4. In cases that occur in departments or centers, either the department chair or center director, or the department/center administrator, will notify the following people that someone has tested positive for COVID-19, without identifying the individual who tested positive (except to the DDR):
    • An SMPH Divisional Disability Representative (contact smph-fmla@med.wisc.edu). The DDR will work with the individual who tested positive.
    • When indicated by CDC guidelines, SMPH facilities will coordinate cleaning with UW Facilities Planning & Management and/or a private cleaning company and will provide an update when any necessary cleaning has been completed. Appropriate cleaning will take place outside of business hours if possible. To initiate this process, complete a work order (found at this link).
  5. If the supervisor, chair, or department administrator is contacted by the individual with a positive COVID-19 test, they should provide them with the information from the Responsibilities of an individual who has tested positive section above. They should also ask for the following information, and forward it to University Health Services:
    • When did they get their test results?
    • When did they have symptoms?
    • Who have they been in close contact with in the workplace (generally, within six feet for fifteen minutes or more, during one encounter or cumulative over the course of one day)?
    • What locations (rooms) did they occupy?

Responsibilities of individuals who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive:

  1. Please note that “close contact” requires close proximity for long periods of time, generally within six feet for fifteen minutes or more (either during one encounter or cumulative over the course of one day), which rarely occurs in SMPH workspaces under current restricted workplace conditions.
  2. If you have had close contact, as defined above, with an infected individual in the workplace, you will be contacted by a contact tracer.
  3. You must quarantine for 14 days and be symptom-free during that time before returning to campus.
  4. If you are not sick, your supervisor may allow you to work from a remote location if telework is available.
  5. Consult with a Divisional Disability Representative (contact smph-fmla@med.wisc.edu) about leave options that are available to you.
  6. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, seek testing through your healthcare provider or a free testing service.

Workspace cleaning:

Following current CDC guidelines, SMPH facilities will coordinate cleaning of workspaces by UW Facilities Planning and Management and/or a private cleaning company prior to resumption of use when appropriate.

Situations that may require space closure:

If there is evidence of transmission within a workspace (e.g. multiple people infected near the same time), it will be shut down temporarily to allow lab members to quarantine. Decisions to suspend activities will be made by Dr. Jonathan Temte, medical director of Public Health Madison & Dane County and Associate Dean for Public Health and Community Engagement, or his designee.