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COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The virus spreads mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Evidence shows that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms (asymptomatic).

Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) has developed the following guidance and resources for the UNC-Chapel Hill community as we return to campus.  The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly evolving and EHS will update its guidance as new information becomes available. Please check back regularly for updates.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has the authority to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) if the agency determines that employees are exposed to grave danger from exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or from new hazards and determines an ETS is necessary to protect employees from such danger.

OSHA has determined that employee exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (virus causing COVID-19) presents a grave danger to workers in all healthcare settings in the U.S. and its territories where people with COVID-19 are reasonably expected to be present and has issued “Occupational Exposure to COVID-19; Emergency Temporary Standard.”

On July 14, 2021, the North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL) adopted verbatim the federal OSHA COVID-19 ETS for Healthcare. The ETS became effective in North Carolina on July 21, 2021.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to fulfill OSHA ETS for healthcare requirements, UNC-Chapel Hill has developed a COVID-19 Safety Plan to be used in addition to previously implemented policies, trainings, recordkeeping, and reporting procedures.

Resources

Wearing a mask is a key step in preventing people from getting and spreading COVID-19. Masks should be worn indoors and outdoors anytime you are not around people you live with. At UNC-Chapel Hill, wearing a mask is part of the 3Ws (wear, wait and wash).

According to the CDC, effective February 2, 2021, masks are required on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.

Cloth Masks

Cloth masks can be made from a variety of natural and synthetic fabrics and fibers, various types of cloth mask are available. Cloth masks should have:

  • Two or more layers of washable, breathable fabrics.
  • Nose wire for a snug fit. Make sure the mask is not loose and has no gaps.
  • Cloth thick enough to block light when held up to bright light sources.
  • Do not wear cloth masks with exhalation valves or vents.

For a better fit and protection, cloth masks can be worn over a disposable mask or combined with a fitter or brace.

Disposable/Surgical Masks

Disposable/Surgical masks are fluid-resistant, loose-fitting protection that provide a barrier between the mouth and nose for the wearer against potential contaminants in the environment.

  • Multiple layers of non-woven material
  • Nose wire

K95 Masks

K95 masks are filtering facepiece respirators commonly made in China that are like N95 masks used in the United States. Make sure K95s:

  • Meet the requirements set by the CDC and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
  • Make sure the K95 is not counterfeit (about 60% of K95s in the US are counterfeit and not approved for use, according to the CDC and NIOSH).
  • Do not wear more than one K95 at a time, and they should not be worn with facial hair.

N95 Masks for Healthcare Workers

N95 masks are tight-fitted filtering facepiece respirators with protection against airborne particles. The CDC recommends N95 respirators not be used for protection against COVID-19 in non-healthcare settings and should be reserved for healthcare workers. N95s come in different makes and models. N95 use should include:

  • A fit test, before use, to determine a proper fit.
  • Training on how to use N95 properly.
  • NIOSH-approved.
For maximum protection, wear the mask consistently and correctly, over your nose and mouth and secure under your chin. It is important to make sure when wearing the mask:

  • Cover your nose and mouth when wearing the mask.
  • Keep your mask clean and dry. Replace if it becomes wet or soiled.
  • If the mask is disposable, throw it away after one use.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before handling your mask.
  • Make sure you can breathe easily through the mask.

How to Store and Wash Your Mask

Store your clean dry mask in a breathable bag, such as a paper or mesh fabric bag, to keep it clean between uses. When reusing your mask, keep the same side facing out. Be sure to wash or sanitize your hands when handling your mask.

Wet cloth masks should be stored in a sealed plastic bag until they can be washed.

How to Wash Your Mask

Be sure to keep your mask clean. Cloth masks can be washed using a washing machine or by hand with laundry detergent or soap. Make sure to completely dry your mask using a clothes dryer or through air drying by hanging or laying it flat.

CDC Guide to Masks
Mask Types
Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Learn when and how you should wash your hands to stay healthy.

If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, and wash with soap and water as soon as you can. Apply enough product on hands to cover all surfaces. Rub hands together, until hands feel dry. This should take around 20 seconds.

Maintain a physical distance of at least six feet in the workplace. If you see someone walking, wait until there is 6 feet between you, stand to the side, or walk in the opposite direction.
Community Protective Equipment, or CPE, is Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, that is designed to not only protect yourself but those around you. CPE includes the following:

  • Facial Mask that is used to contain an employee’s potentially infectious respiratory secretions. It is worn while in the presence of others.
  • Nitrile gloves for employees with frequent physical contact with individuals (i.e. receptionist for student services).

Wearing CPE

  • Perform hand hygiene for 20 seconds before donning mask.
  • Properly don CPE by holding mask in hand against your face (positioned over your nose and under your chin), then pull straps around your ears.
  • If your position interacts regularly with the general public (i.e. student interfacing), gloves are recommended.
  • If gloves are worn, remove them first, then perform hand hygiene for 20 seconds before touching your mask for removal (eating, drinking or end of work time).

Disposing of CPE

Reuse

  • Save masks for reuse if required by your department.
  • Frequency of use will depend on availability of mask.
  • Place in a paper bag with your name written on it.
  • University-provided masks must be left at the workplace.

Disposal

  • Dispose of CPE in designated locations.
  • These locations will be communicated by departments/ building managers
  • Do not place CPE in recycling containers
Use a disinfectant that is certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be effective against COVID-19. Verify the disinfectant is on the EPA’s List N registry of disinfectants. Disinfectants are listed by both name and by EPA ID number. Your product may not be listed by name, but if the EPA number matches what is on the list, then this is a good disinfectant to use.

Common Disinfectants Approved for COVID-19

  • 10% bleach in water
  • 70% ethanol

Disinfectant Contact Time

Disinfectants require a specific contact time in order to work. The majority require that you spray until the surface is thoroughly wet, then wait 5-10 minutes before wiping. If your disinfectant doesn’t have the specific contact time instructions on the label, that information should be available online.

Common COVID-19 Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Fatigue
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Employees should self-monitor for these symptoms on a daily basis. Employees who develop fever or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should immediately self-isolate and contact their primary care provider to arrange for medical evaluation and testing.

The University Employee Occupational Health Clinic (UEOHC) no longer schedules COVID-19 testing for symptomatic employees. Please contact your primary care provider or obtain COVID-19 testing at one of your community testing locations. You do not need a physician’s order to obtain a COVID-19 test.

All University faculty and staff who work in settings where direct patient care occurs (i.e., healthcare employees) with COVID-19 symptoms are REQUIRED to remain out of work and contact the UEOHC before returning to work.  Direct patient care locations include any part of UNC Medical Center, UNC Health ambulatory clinics, UNC Dental clinics, and non-UNC sites where direct patient care occurs (long-term care, emergency medical response, home health, etc.).

Healthcare Employees

Employees who have been quarantined by their health department are required to follow the health department’s requirements before returning to campus.

If You are Symptomatic and Being Tested for COVID-19

  • If you are being tested for COVID-19, you should remain off campus until you know your test result. If you test positive, you are required to contact the UEOHC even if you do not have symptoms.
  • If your test is negative and your symptoms have resolved/improved over the past 24 hours, you may return to campus. You are not required to contact the UEOHC.
  • If your symptoms do not get better over the next 72 hours after your negative test, please contact your primary care provider to see if repeat COVID-19 testing is indicated.

If You Have Tested Positive for COVID-19

  • You are required to remain off campus and contact the UEOHC at 919-966-9119 (Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., closed weekends and University holidays)
  • Employees who have tested positive for COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 are required to call the UEOHC and remain off campus for 10 days from the date of the test.
  • Employees who have tested positive for COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 and are still symptomatic after 10 days for the date of the test should remain off campus and call the UEOHC for further guidance.

Non-Healthcare Employees

Employees who have been quarantined by their health department are required to follow the health department’s requirements before returning to campus.

If You are Symptomatic and Being Tested for COVID-19

  • If you are being tested for COVID-19, you should remain off campus until you know your test result. If you test positive, you are required to contact the UEOHC even if you do not have symptoms.
  • If your test is negative and your symptoms have resolved/improved over the past 24 hours, you may return to campus. You are not required to contact the UEOHC.
  • If your symptoms do not get better over the next 72 hours after your negative test, please contact your primary care provider to see if repeat COVID-19 testing is indicated.

If You Have Tested Positive for COVID-19

  • You are required to remain off campus and contact the UEOHC at 919-966-9119 (Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., closed weekends and University holidays)
  • Employees who have tested positive for COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 are required to call the UEOHC and remain off campus for 10 days from the date of the test.
  • Employees who have tested positive for COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 and are still symptomatic after 10 days for the date of the test should remain off campus and call the UEOHC for further guidance.

Symptomatic Employees with Symptoms Lasting Less than 48 Hours

If you are not a healthcare employee AND if your symptoms lasted less than 48 hours AND your symptoms have resolved/improved over the past 24 hours You are not required to have a COVID-19 test prior to return to campus AND not required to contact the UEOHC.

Symptomatic Employees with Symptoms Lasting Three or More Days

It is highly recommended that you get a COVID-19 test before returning to work. Please contact your primary care provider or obtain a COVID-19 test at one of your community testing locations. You do not need a physician’s order to obtain a COVID-19 test. Employees can return to work once their symptoms have improved/resolved over the past 24 hours. If you recently tested negative for COVID-19 due to symptoms AND your symptoms did not improve or worsened despite having a negative COVID-19 test, please contact your primary care provider to see if repeat COVID-19 testing is necessary.

Asymptomatic Employees with a Household Member Who has Tested Positive for COVID-19

Employees with a household member who has tested positive for COVID-19 are required to get clearance from their primary care provider and/or health department before returning to campus, even if the employee has received the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are asymptomatic AND not required to quarantine/self-isolate by your primary care provider and/or health department, you may return to campus.

Symptomatic Employees with a Household Member Who has Tested Positive for COVID-19

If you become symptomatic and have a household member who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days, you are required to have a negative COVID-19 test before returning to campus. Please contact your primary care provider or obtain a COVID-19 test at one of your community testing locations. You do not need a physician’s order to obtain a COVID-19 test. If your test is negative and your symptoms have resolved/improved over the past 24 hours, you may return to campus. If your test is positive, you are required to call the UEOHC.

  • Do you have new muscle aches not related to another medical condition or another specific activity (e.g. due to physical exercise)?
  • Do you feel like you may have a temperature of greater than 100.0°F?
  • Do you have sore throat not related to another medical condition (e.g. allergies)?
  • Do you have a new or worsening cough that is not related to another medical condition?
  • Do you have shortness of breath that is not attributable to another medical condition?
  • Do you have recent (less than five days) loss of smell and taste?
  • Do you have new onset of vomiting or diarrhea not related to another medical condition?
  • Have you had recent close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, immediately self-isolate and contact your primary care provider to arrange for medical evaluation and testing.