Institute Prevention Practices:
Prepare for Exposures and Outbreaks:
Identify & Manage Exposures and Outbreaks
  • Maintain confidentiality of employees
  • Initiate communication & reporting protocols
  • Begin contact tracing of employees (see Line List) & consult County Public Health
  • For close contacts, ensure timely testing (see Testing Site List) and quarantine
  • Perform enhanced disinfecting

Santa Cruz County Public Health (831) 454-4114

Employer Toolkit

The County of Santa Cruz Public Health Division recognizes that our community, including employers, plays an important role in protecting public health. We are providing this toolkit to employers to help contain and mitigate any cases of COVID-19 within your workforce. These tools provide guidance on notifying employees of an exposure and help identify workplace exposures. The County greatly appreciated the cooperation of local businesses in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

This guidance is not intended for use in managing or preventing outbreaks in healthcare, congregate living settings, or other workplaces where the California Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) standard applies.
  • Step 1: Activate your COVID-19 Preparedness Plan

    Provide instructions to the worker who is positive for COVID-19. The worker should be sent home immediately and instructed to isolate. For employees who are positive for COVID-19, the minimum criteria to return to work is dependent on the employee’s symptoms:

    • SYMPTOMATIC: At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and at least 1 day (24 hours) have passed since recovery, defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath).
    • ASYMPTOMATIC: A minimum of 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 test. If they develop symptoms, then the criteria for laboratory confirmed cases with symptoms apply.

    For more information, see the Isolation and Quarantine Guide for Patients:
    English   Español

    Refer to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Workplace Guidance for detailed guidance for the Return to Work criteria.

    Clean/Disinfect workplace where employees with COVID-19 have been at work

    Refer to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Workplace Guidance for guidance.

    Notify Santa Cruz County Public Health (and Environmental Health, if needed)

    You must report COVID-19 outbreaks to the local health department. For non-healthcare workplaces, this is defined as 3 or more COVID-19 cases among workers at the same worksite within a 14-day period.
    Once this threshold is met, you have 48 hours to report to the local health department in the jurisdiction where the worksite is located.

    You also must continue to notify the local health department of additional COVID-19 cases identified among workers at the worksite.

    Send an email to Public Health at (also copy Environmental Health at if your business falls under one of the following categories: food service, public pools, body art, organized camps).

    Include the following information in your email:

       - Business name
       - Number of employees at your business
       - Primary point-of-contact at the business
       - COVID-19 positive employee’s name, date of birth, contact information and date of symptom onset
       - Summary of precautions taken (such as sending employee home)

    This information will be monitored by Public Health to determine if there is an outbreak and if further guidance is needed. If there is no outbreak, Public Health may not provide additional guidance beyond what is included in this toolkit.

    If you have questions, please contact the Santa Cruz County Public Health Call Center at (831) 454-4242.

  • Step 2: Identify all close contacts to the COVID-19-positive worker

    Refer to the Contact Tracing Form (link above) for guidance on identifying close contacts during the exposure period.

    If an employer learns that an employee has tested positive, the employer should try to determine which, if any, employees had close contact with the positive employee.

    • Close contacts should be instructed to quarantine at home for 14 days from their last known contact with the employee with COVID-19. Close contacts should be tested for COVID-19 when possible.
    • A close contact is someone who spent 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of an individual with COVID-19 infection during their infectious period, which includes, at a minimum, the 48 hours before the individual developed symptoms.

    Maintain Confidentiality

    Employers should keep employees’ medical information confidential in accordance with federal and state laws. Do not disclose the identity of the COVID-19 positive worker in your effort to identify close contacts. Please consult with your attorney if you have any questions about applicable employment or privacy laws.

    Identify Close Contacts During the Exposure Period

    Refer to the Contact Tracing Form (link above) for guidance on identifying close contacts during the exposure period.

    The exposure period is defined as:

    • Start: 2 full days before the person had symptoms (or 2 full days before date of first positive test for employees who are asymptomatic)
    • End: last day the positive person was at work

    Complete the Contact Tracing Form Complete the Contact Tracing Form (link above) and submit to Public Health through email,

    Please include any vendors/suppliers, visitors or others who had close contact with the employee at the worksite.

  • Step 3: Communicate with All Employees

    This toolkit includes a sample employee notification letter that can be sent to all employees. Be mindful of maintaining confidentiality of the affected employees.

    Work Exclusion, Quarantine & Testing Recommendations for Close Contacts

    Anyone who had close contact with the person diagnosed with COVID-19 during the exposure period (defined above) should not be allowed at the worksite and should stay at home for 14 days, starting the last day that the person diagnosed with COVID-19 was at work.

    All close contacts should get tested immediately, if possible. Access to testing may be limited and lab processing times may vary, depending upon demand in the local area. If it is not possible to get tested, employees should be directed to stay at home. Utilize the CDPH Return to Work criteria for guidance to employees to quarantine or isolate at home.

    Because lab tests can remain positive long after an individual is no longer infectious, proof of a negative test should not be required prior to returning to the workplace after a documented COVID-19 infection. Rather, symptom- or protocol-based criteria should be used in determining when an employee is safe to return to the workplace (refer to CDPH Return to Work criteria). This does not mean an employer must allow an employee who currently has COVID-19 to return to work before the employee's infection is resolved.

    Testing Discrimination and Inappropriate Workplace Testing

    As modifications are made to public health directives and more sectors of the economy open with adaptations, it is important that employers do not use testing to impermissibly discriminate against employees who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 (such as by preventing them from resuming work after they can do so in a manner consistent with public health and safety).

    More information can be found here: California Department of Public Health Updated COVID-19 Testing Guidance.

    General advisory for all employees

    All others present at the workplace, but NOT identified as close contacts should continue to follow internal workplace policies for COVID-19 prevention, including adherence to the business’ Social Distancing Protocol.

  • Step 4: Report Additional Case(s) to the Santa Cruz County Public Health Department

    If additional positive cases are identified at your worksite, email Public Health: (also copy Environmental Health if your business oversees a food facility, public pool, body art, or organized camp).

    The information provided will remain confidential and does not affect immigration status. You may update the information you initially provided, if you discover additional information after your initial report.

  • Step 5: Report Any Hospitalizations and Deaths to the Local Cal/OSHA District Office

    Any serious injury, illness, or death occurring in any place of employment or in connection with any employment must be reported by the employer to the local Cal/OSHA district office immediately. For COVID-19, this includes hospitalizations and deaths among employees, even if work-relatedness is uncertain.

  • Step 6: Return to Work Guidance
  • Step 7: Prevent Workplace COVID-19 Transmission

    Continue to emphasize best Public Health practices to prevent further spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, including maintaining physical distancing, frequently washing hands, and wearing face coverings. Continue to implement your COVID-19 preparedness plans.