A State by State Guide to COVID-19 Guidance and Recommendations
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has prompted not only the U.S. federal government, but also all of the individual state governments, to act quickly to slow the spread of the coronavirus and save lives. Additional actions are being taken now as states across the US begin to at least partially re-open their economies. While all of these actions are necessary, they have also created difficulties for businesses trying to understand and follow these guidelines, especially if they have facilities in multiple states.
For anyone struggling to keep track of the changing COVID-19 requirements and guidance across the United States, here are some helpful resources.
General Guidance and Requirements
There are a number of useful pages compiling information related to federal and state guidelines. Here are some you should know about:
State Action on Coronavirus: A page maintained by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) that presents up-to-date, real-time information about bills related to and responding to COVID-19 that have been introduced in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Coronavirus: What You Need to Know: A page maintained by the National Governor’s Association (NGA) providing current information about legislative actions taken by the federal, state and territory governments to address COVID-19.
CDC’s Resource Page: Guidance for specific industries like healthcare and first responders, and guidance on general issues like travel safety.
OSHA’s Resource Page: Updated frequently, with a growing library of industry-specific guidance documents and employer resources for the workplace.
Back to Work Safely TM: Expert, industry-specific guidance for re-opening businesses, sponsored by American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) with a good focus on industrial hygiene (IH).
Opening America’s Workplaces Again: A site maintained by U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), intended to be an evolving online dialogue and resource for businesses preparing to re-open.
Government Response to Coronavirus, COVID-19: An official US federal government page compiling various government websites containing current information about COVID-19, including Guidelines for Opening Up America Again and the latest information from the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Each of these pages are continuously updated as new information becomes available, so be sure to check back frequently.
Temperature and Other Health Screenings
Many states and territories have implemented requirements for all or some businesses to conduct temperature checks or other health screenings of their workers as a condition of conducting business in the physical workplace. Other states have issued non-enforceable recommendations on screenings that businesses should be aware of as best practices.
The list below includes all states that have issued such orders and recommendations as of June 5, 2020. Since the numbers of states with health screening requirements may change from week to week or even day to day, and states may also modify their existing orders, be sure to check with your state government for the most recent status of guidance issued.
- Alabama: Recommendations only. Employers should take the temperature of each worker with a no-touch thermometer each day they arrive at work, or ask their employees to take their own temperatures, to confirm their temperatures are not higher than 100.4°F. Employers should also screen their employees with questions related to COVID-19 symptoms and potential exposures before they report to and enter the workplace.
- Alaska: Recommendation only. Employers re-opening businesses should conduct pre-shift symptom screening of their workers.
- Arizona: Recommendations only. Retail sector employers should conduct pre-shift symptom screening of their workers.
- Arkansas: Separate requirements issued for restaurants and gym/fitness centers require employers to screen staff for specified symptoms before they enter the workplace. Also recommends, but does not require, that all employers across industries screen their workers for fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell as they are entering the building at the beginning of the workday.
- California: Requires all employers to train employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19, including how to screen themselves for symptoms and stay home if they have them.
- Colorado: Requires employers to conduct daily temperature checks of their workers if feasible, or if not, to require employees to check their own temperatures at home. The order contains additional requirements for employers with over 50 employees regarding the methods of implementing temperature screenings. Also requires all employers to implement daily health screening of workers if feasible, or if not, to require their employees to self-assess at home prior to reporting to work, with additional requirements for businesses with 50 or more employees.
- Connecticut: Recommends that employees take their own temperature at home and not report to work if their temperature exceeds 100.4°F. Separate orders for personal care services, retail restaurants and office-based businesses require employers screen employees resuming to on-premises work to confirm they have not experienced COVID-19 CDC-defined symptoms, as further described in the orders.
- Delaware: Requires high-risk businesses (as defined within the order) to either institute a self-reporting policy for their employees for any body temperatures at or above 99.5°F, or do temperature screening on site. High-risk businesses must also screen each incoming employee with a questionnaire containing health questions indicated within the order.
- District of Columbia: Requirement for retail food sellers (grocery stores, supermarkets, etc.) require those businesses to check their employees for COVID-19 symptoms before they begin their shifts. Similar screening procedures are recommended, but not required, for restaurants.
- Georgia: An order requires employers in restaurants, bars, retail food establishments, gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, personal care services, and all other non-critical businesses conducting in-person operations screen and evaluate employees who exhibit signs of illness, such as a fever over 100.4°F, cough, or shortness of breath. Employers must require employees who exhibit signs of illness to seek medical attention and not report to work. The same order also requires gyms and fitness center to screen patrons at the facility entrance and turn away any displaying COVID-19 symptoms.
- Idaho: Separate orders for restaurants, personal care services and gym/fitness centers require employers to screen the temperatures of their employees with a non-touch thermometer to ensure they are below 100.4°F, and require employees to report the onset of symptoms. The order also requires these employers to screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms prior to each shift.
- Illinois: Recommendations for certain businesses named within the guidance to make temperature checks available to workers, and conduct screenings for COVID-19 symptoms at the beginning and middle of each workshift.
- Indiana: Requires reopening businesses to conduct employee health screenings prior to allowing their workers to re-enter the physical workplace.
- Iowa: Recommends that personal care service employers ask employees and the public to acknowledge upon entry that they do not currently have symptoms, and that they have not been in contact with anyone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis in the last 14 days.
- Kansas: Recommends that employers monitor their employees’ temperatures and other health symptoms regularly, and provides a screening form template for documenting and logging symptoms.
- Kentucky: Requirement for all businesses, including those that were permitted to remain open, that employees undergo health survey screening and daily temperature checks. Businesses may choose whether to require on-site temperature screenings, or self-screenings conducted by employees at home at least once every 24 hours, ideally just before going to work, and reported to the employer prior to beginning work. Employees with a fever above 100.4°F should not report to work.
- Louisiana: Recommends that employees who report to work with acute respiratory illness symptoms stay separated from other employees and return home.
- Maryland: Recommends that employers should implement a daily screening process for workers and other personnel which includes CDC or MDH recommended health questions and temperature testing.
- Michigan: Requirement for food selling establishment and pharmacy employers to conduct screening surveys and also conduct temperature surveys if employees indicate that they have had close contact with a person with COVID-19 during the previous 14 days. Employers in those situations should measure the employee’s temperature and assess symptoms each day before they start work, ideally, before they enter the facility. An additional requirement for manufacturing facilities states that the employee screening protocol must include temperature screening as soon as no-touch thermometers can be obtained. Separate orders for food selling establishments/pharmacies and construction businesses require employers in those industries to conduct screening questions.
- Minnesota: Requirement for meatpacking industry employers to conduct verbal screenings and temperature screenings, and done with proper social distancing and hygiene. If a worker has an oral or aural temperature above 99.5°F, the employer should send the worker for further evaluation by a plant occupational health nurse who can determine if the employee can go home to recover, or should be admitted to a health care provider. A separate order for industrial, manufacturing, and office-based businesses reopening on or after April 27 requires employers' COVID-19 Preparedness Plans must include employee health screening procedures. Finally, a recommendation was published advising employers to consider regular health checks (e.g., temperature and respiratory symptom screening) of staff and visitors entering buildings if feasible.
- Mississippi: Requirement that gyms and fitness centers, indoor places of amusement, and restaurants/bars reopening for dine-in to conduct daily symptom screenings of their employees. A separate order requires all employers in selected counties to conduct identical screenings.
- Montana: Requirement that employers must conduct health assessments on employees at the beginning of each shift. Personal care services establishments must also screen customers prior to appointments for symptoms.
- Nebraska: Recommends that restaurants reopening for dine-in service conduct complete employee pre-screening (e.g., take temperature and assess for any symptoms consistent with COVID-19) prior to their starting work. Separate guidelines recommend that meat processing facilities conduct health screenings, including temperature checks.
- Nevada: Requirement that employers in agriculture, appliance and furniture showrooms, auto dealerships, banks and financial services, personal care services, restaurants and food and drink establishments, general office operations, retail and consumer services, transportation, couriers and warehousing perform a daily COVID-19 symptom check of employees. A separate guidance document recommends, but does not require, that employers have their employees conduct self-assessments for COVID-19 symptoms every day. Finally, a guidance document specific to grocery employers recommends that those employers monitor their workers for symptoms and require sick employees to stay home.
- New Hampshire: Requirement that essential businesses and organizations, including those that are reopening all or a portion of their operations, develop a process for screening all employees reporting for work for COVID-19 related symptoms. This includes asking specified questions in a specified order described in the requirements. The person responsible for screening should, at a minimum, wear a cloth face covering. Additionally, these businesses must conduct temperature readings for their employees on-site using a non-touch thermometer, ensuring that measured temperatures do not exceed 100°F. If on-site temperature testing is not feasible, employees should be directed to take their own temperature before arriving to work.
- New Jersey: Requirement for agriculture employers to screen workers for symptoms, including temperature and symptom checks, prior to work shifts.
- New Mexico: Requirement that all employers screen workers for symptoms before they enter the workplace each day, verbally or using a written or text/app-based questionnaire. The same order recommends, but does not require, that retail employers screen employees and customers with a no-contact thermometer and prevent entry of those with a temperature greater than 100.4°F.
- New York: Requirement that Phase 1 reopening employers implement mandatory health screening assessment (e.g. questionnaire, temperature check) before employees begin work each day, and for essential visitors. Employers must review assessment responses every day and document the reviews.
- North Carolina: Requirement that all businesses open to the public must conduct daily symptom screening of workers using a standard interview questionnaire for symptoms before workers enter the workplace.
- North Dakota: Recommends that employers screen their employee’s temperatures when they arrive at work, and ask any employees who call in sick whether they’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
- Ohio: Order requires employers to have a policy that workers must conduct daily health self-assessments and must not report to work if symptomatic.
- Oregon: Recommends that employers consider regular health checks (e.g., temperature and respiratory symptom screening) or self-reporting of symptoms by employees. A separate recommendation for personal care services advises contacting clients prior to appointments to screen for symptoms, and conducting temperature checks for clients.
- Pennsylvania: Requirement that construction employers conduct jobsite screenings based on CDC guidance to determine if employees should work, and prohibit any employees with any symptoms of COVID-19 from working. A separate recommendation advises that employers should take employees’ temperatures before they begin work and send employees home if they have a fever of 100.4°F or higher.
- Puerto Rico: Requirement that employers implement a protocol to monitor and screen personnel prior to entering the workplace, along with the procedures to follow in case they detect an employee with symptoms.
- Rhode Island: Requirements that businesses must screen all individuals entering the establishment for any reason. Screening must include, at minimum: visual assessment, self-screening, written questionnaire or a combination of any of these screening methods. Businesses must be sure to screen at all entrances, and deny entry to anyone who is confirmed to be COVID-19 positive, has COVID-19 symptoms or has had close contact with a COVID-19-positive individual.
- South Carolina: Recommends that restaurants conduct temperature and health screenings of their employees.
- South Dakota: Recommends that employers ask their workers health screening questions when they report to work each day, and maintain a daily screening log.
- Tennessee: Recommends that employers take workers’ temperatures on site with a no-touch thermometer each day upon arrival at work, ask screening questions and record screening results on a daily screening log.
- Texas: Recommends, as a minimum standard health protocol for businesses that are reopening, that all employees be screened for specified COVID-19 symptoms, such as feeling feverish or a measured temperature of 100.0° F or greater.
- Utah: An order covering gyms/fitness centers requires those employers to conduct symptom screenings of employers prior to each shift, and maintain a log that can be made available to the state health department. A separate order creates identical requirements for personal care services. A guidance document recommends, but does not require, that all employers who have employees who work with high-risk populations perform daily screening/symptom monitoring of those workers.
- Vermont: Requirement that employers conduct a pre-screening or health survey, including temperature of each employee prior to each shift, to the extent feasible.
- Virginia: Recommends that employees self-monitor their symptoms and self-take their temperatures to check for fever before reporting to work. For employers with established occupational health programs, employers can consider measuring temperature and assessing symptoms of employees prior to starting work/before each shift.
- Washington: Requirement that employers reopening nonessential retail establishments must ask employees health screening questions and require them to take their temperatures at home prior to arriving at work, or take their temperatures when they arrive using non-touch thermometers to the greatest extent possible. Any worker with a temperature of 100.4°F or higher is considered to have a fever and must be sent home. A separate order creates identical requirements for employers at low-risk construction sites, and another order requires restaurant employers to screen their employees for COVID-19 symptoms prior to each shift. Finally, a guidance document recommends but does not require that all employers screen everyone who enters their facility, including all employees before the start of each work shift and all visitors, using suggested screening questions.
- West Virginia: Requirement that restaurant/bar employers, lodging establishments and retail establishments monitor their employees daily by asking screening questions about common symptoms of COVID-19. Lodging and restaurant/bar employers are advised to take their temperature prior to leaving for work or upon arrival. If their temperature measures over 100.4°F, the employee should notify management and not begin work. A separate recommendation for small businesses advises those employers to screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms daily using a series of screening questions.
- Wyoming: Separate orders for restaurants/bars, gyms, and personal care services require employers to screen their employees for symptoms of illness prior to each shift. A separate guidance document recommends but does not require that all employers conduct similar screenings.
Don’t forget that many county and city governments have also created their own guidelines and requirements, so don’t forget to check with your local government and public health agencies.
What If My Business Operates in Multiple States?
The reality is that many companies operate in locations across the country, and need to be aware of more than one of the state guidelines listed above.
If a business operates in multiple jurisdictions, they should make sure to examine all of the applicable laws and guidelines, and consider following the more restrictive guidelines as standard policy across all locations. This approach allows you to standardize your management approach, and also avoids both the confusion and ethical dilemma of treating your employees differently simply because of the state they happen to be working in.
Although it is not specifically required in all states and jurisdictions, you should develop a COVID-19 preparedness and prevention plan containing protocols for re-opening and moving forward. Some examples of items covered in your plan should include schedules and procedures for disinfecting, and how you will maintain or adapt those protocols once workers re-enter the workplace. Be sure to address OSHA HazCom requirements for your cleaning products, and maintain IH tasks such as respirator fit testing (RFT) and chemical sampling plans. You'll also want to have a pro-active audit and inspection program to make sure you're doing everything you need to be doing.
Companies should also consider appointing a COVID-19 point-person or task force to develop and manage your plan, and who will stay abreast of the rapidly changing developments and advise company leaders as needed.
Let VelocityEHS Help!
VelocityEHS continues to closely follow the ongoing developments from regulators and public health agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’re committed to connecting you with the information you need to stay safe and healthy during these challenging and uncertain times.
Check out our VelocityEHS COVID-19 Resource Site for a growing library of helpful resources, including free access to tools that can help you simplify compliance, making it possible for you to focus on what matters most.
If you want to hear more about our cloud-based EHS software solutions can help, including managing SDSs and other hazard communication obligations for cleaning products, IH management, audits and inspections management, and compliance management, please feel free to contact us.
Please stay safe, continue to follow guidance provided by public health experts, and we’ll get through this together.