Health Care Worker’s FAQ

What is PPE?

PPE is personal protective equipment and include the following items recommended by the CDC:

  • N95 respirator or surgical face mask
  • Isolation Gown
  • Gloves
  • Eye Protection - goggles or face shield
  • Hand hygiene supplies (60-65% alcohol base hand rub and soap)


Can the employer force me to work without PPE?

HCPs caring for residents with COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19 or any other respiratory illness must wear PPE at all time.


What to do if exposed to COVID-19 at work?

To reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, it is recommended that HCPs wear proper PPE at all times when in close contact with a COVID-19 resident.  If you are exposed to COVID-19 at work you should notify your supervisor and follow the protocol in place for self-monitoring.  Asymptomatic HCP who have been exposed to COVID-19 are allowed to work while wearing a face mask at all times for 14 days from the date of exposure.


How do I determine my COVID-19 exposure risk level?

Exposure risk levels vary based on circumstance and the level of PPE worn by the HCP or the resident at the time of exposure.  Refer to the CDC’s “interim guidance for risk assessment…” as a guide to understanding exposure risk levels and associated work restrictions.  You can view the risk assessment table on the Exposure Risk Level Table section of the website or by clicking on the following link


Can the employer force me to come to work sick?

There is no short answer to this question.  The CDC recommends that any healthcare professional who presents with symptoms of COVID-19 or any other type of respiratory infection, or fever should immediately cease resident care and isolate at home after notifying their supervisor.  The HCP should contact their health care provider or the local health department to obtain professional medical advice (when calling the health department, identify yourself as a health care worker).


What is the Return to Work Criteria?

The CDC recommends that employers follow the following two strategies for return to work criteria for HCP with confirmed or suspected COVID-19:

  1. Test-based strategy. Exclude from work until
    • Resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
    • Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath), and
    • Negative results of an FDA Emergency Use Authorized molecular assay for COVID-19 from at least two consecutive nasopharyngeal swab specimens collected ≥24 hours apart (total of two negative specimens).
  1. Non-test-based strategy. Exclude from work until
    • At least 3 days (72 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); and,
    • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared


If HCP were never tested for COVID-19 but have an alternate diagnosis (e.g., tested positive for influenza), criteria for return to work should be based on that diagnosis.


Can the Employer ask me to return to work prior to the recommended work restriction?

Due to staffing shortages, the CDC allows the facility to make a decision to have HCP return to work earlier than recommended by the CDC provided you do not have a fever or any COVID-19 symptoms.  However, it is the Union’s position that any return to work early is subject to mutual agreement between the member and the home as long as the member is feeling well and able to work.


In this instance it is recommended that the facility and the HCP must follow the return to work practices and restrictions outlined in the CDC guidance, as summarized below:


After returning to work, HCP should:

  • Wear a face mask at all times while in the healthcare facility until all symptoms are completely resolved or until 14 days after illness onset, whichever is longer
  • Be restricted from contact with severely immunocompromised patients (e.g., transplant, hematology-oncology) until 14 days after illness onset
  • Adhere to hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and cough etiquette in CDC’s interim infection control guidance (e.g., cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, dispose of tissues in waste receptacles)
  • Self-monitor for symptoms, and seek re-evaluation from occupational health if respiratory symptoms recur or worsen

Can the employer force me to work without PPE?

HCPs caring for residents with COVID-19, suspected to have COVID-19, or symptoms of COVID-19 or any other respiratory illness should wear PPE at all time when caring for the resident.


Should activities workers helping residents FaceTime their loved ones wear PPE?

Full PPE (gown, gloves, eye protection, respirator or face mask) should be worn anytime you are in close contact with the resident and the entire time you are in the resident’s room.  Follow proper donning and doffing sequence for wearing PPE and disinfect FaceTime device or iPad between uses.


Disclaimer: UFCW Local 342 does not provide medical advice.  The information contained in this presented material, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material are for informational purposes only.  No information provided in this material, on our social media, or our website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding COVID-19.