DES MOINES, Iowa — COVID-19 continues to spread across the state of Iowa, leading more and more Iowans asking if their jobs are essential.
The Iowa Dept. of Public Health released guidance for essential services personnel on March 22. Those jobs include:
- Healthcare providers
- Law enforcement
- Fire & EMS personnel
- Long Term Care personnel
- Residential Support Facility personnel
- Public Health & Emergency Management personnel
Essential services personnel are considered exposed to COVID-19 if they have done any of the following:
- Traveled outside of Iowa for business or vacation in the last 14 days
- Taken a cruise anywhere in the world in the last 14 days
- Live with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19
- Provided care for a patient with symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19 without using proper PPE
- Had close contact (within 6 feet for more than 2 minutes) with a person who is visibly sick with respiratory symptoms (i.e., sneezing, coughing) or says they are sick with fever or respiratory symptom
The IDPH says these essential personnel are allowed to work as long as they remain asymptomatic and check their temperature at the beginning and end of their shift.
Those providing healthcare in a hospital, long term care, pre-hospital setting or residential care facility should wear a procedure/surgical mask when providing care within six feet of patients, according to the IDPH.
If a worker shows any symptoms of coronavirus, the IDPH says they should be sent home immediately and self-isolate until the following conditions are met:
- No fever for at least 72 hours (that's three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers)
- other symptoms have improved
- at least seven days have passed since your symptoms first appeared
What about food workers?
While the IDPH doesn't define food workers as essential personnel, many are still working.
Iowa officials implemented temporary measures for restaurants by limiting service to drive-through, carry-out and delivery only. Bars are also closed for now.
Restaurants still in service are recommended to to take the following actions:
- Closely monitor food workers for signs of illness and send ill workers home immediately. Ill food works should stay home for seven days after they start having symptoms AND three days after fever and other symptoms stop.
- Immediately implement flexible leave policies and educate all food workers to stay home while they are ill. Do not require healthcare provider notes for food workers to return to work.
- Closely monitor food employee hand washing and hygiene practices.
- Increase cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfection frequencies for all areas of the establishment, especially high-contact surfaces such as door handles, tables, chairs, and restroom fixtures.
- Ensure disinfecting and sanitizing agents are effective for COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a full web page of guidance for businesses and employers to help them plan and respond to COVID-19.
The Iowa Association of Business and Industry gathered a list of resources
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends frequent hand washing, avoiding close contact and staying home if you are sick as main areas of focus for prevention and containment of COVID-19.