Updated August 22, 2022

If you receive a report of an employee or employees with a positive COVID-19 test and have questions about how to proceed, you can call the Multnomah County Health Department at 503-988-3406 or email diseasereport@multco.us.

This webpage provides general workplace guidance. Certain sectors, such as healthcare, childcare, schools, long-term care facilities, and other settings may have additional guidance that differs from the guidance below. See OHA 2351T Statewide Isolation and Quarantine Guidance for details.

If an employee tests positive or has COVID, how long should they stay home? 

People with any COVID-19 symptoms regardless of whether they are able to get a test, should stay home from work and other activities for at least 5 days and follow all isolation guidance. If they are still sick after 5 days, they should stay home until they are no longer sickPeople with COVID-19 who are immunocompromised should stay home for at least 10 days.

Employees with COVID-19 may return to work if:

  • It has been at least 5 days since their symptoms started or 5 days from their positive COVID test if they never had any symptoms, AND 
  • Their COVID-19 symptoms are mild, improved, and they are feeling well enough to perform their work duties, AND 
  • It has been at least 24 hours since they have had a fever without the use of fever-reducing medication, AND 
  • They are able to wear a well-fitted mask around other people for 5 additional days

As long as the employee is feeling well, the risk of being contagious goes down significantly after the first few days of infection, so returning to work after five days markedly decreases the chance of passing the virus on. 

Employers must allow any employees who were required to quarantine or isolate to return to their previous job duties.

The following letter for employers and employees explains this guidance for cases and close contacts in the workplace. It can be printed and used to show

  • that an employee can return to work when they meet the criteria above, and/ or 
  • that employers do not need to request a negative COVID-19 test from employees who tested positive for the virus.

Letter to Employers March 2022 (101.94 KB)

Translations: Chinese (Simplified) | Chinese (Traditional) | Russian | SomaliSpanish | Vietnamese

Should I ask an employee to show test results? 

Businesses should not require proof of a positive test for a sick worker to stay at home. Even if they don’t have COVID-19, sick workers should not expose people to other types of infections (cold, flu, etc.)

Multnomah County does not recommend requiring that an employee show a negative test to return to work. When they have met all of the requirements listed above it is safe for them to return to work.  

If an employer does require a test to return to work, the employer must pay for or provide the test. The employee must still complete the isolation requirements to avoid spreading any illness to others.

Do I need to notify my employees if there is a positive case at the workplace? 

An employer must notify employees who had a work-related exposure with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. They must also notify those who worked in the same facility that an individual who was present in the facility has confirmed COVID-19. Full details: Oregon OSHA rule about COVID-19 at work (Division 1, 437-001-0744)

It is important to make every effort to protect an employee’s private health information, even in smaller work environments. 

Does an employee have to tell me if they have tested positive for COVID-19?

Employees are not required to report if they test positive for COVID-19. If an employee does choose to share information with you, you must make every effort to keep employee health information protected. 

If an employee had close contact with someone with COVID-19, do they need to stay home from work? 

Except for in certain high-risk settings like hospitals or long-term care facilities they do not need to quarantine after a close contact. Quarantine guidance changes.

Communication with Public Health

Facilities or businesses with 2 or more confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 with established close contact should report the outbreak to the local Public Health authority.

COVID-19 positive lab results are automatically reported to the local public health system. If there was a workplace exposure, public health staff may interview employers. If the Health Department calls, please work with them to minimize the spread of COVID-19. 

In most cases, you do not need to shut down your facility because of a positive case. Communication with public health officials is very important. The more health officials understand about your operation, the more they will be able to help you work through solutions to find the option that will be least disruptive to your business operations.

More resources

Workplaces and Businesses - CDC

Responding to COVID Checklist OHA 

Contact Us

Communicable Disease Services