A barista wearing a mask serves coffee

Updated January 14, 2022
This guidance is not intended for health care personnel.


I have an employee who tested positive for COVID-19

  • Do I need to contact Public Health Madison & Dane County about this employee? No, you do not need to contact us unless you are required by law to report communicable diseases.
  • Do I need to shut down my facility if the employee was at the facility while contagious? Not necessarily. You should quarantine close contacts of the contagious employee. The number of employees who need to quarantine and the number you need to operate your business will determine if you need to shut down.
  • What steps should I take after an employee of my facility tests positive for COVID-19?
    • Make sure the employee who tests positive and other employees who are close contacts do not come to work.
    • Consider improving ventilation using these Tools for Ventilation from the CDC to bring in more fresh air.
    • Follow CDC guidelines for cleaning your facility. When possible, do not reopen until cleaning has been completed.
  • Do I need to notify customers or clients? If the employee with the positive test had close contact (defined below) with any customers or clients, those individuals should be notified. This is required under statute 252.03(1).
  • What is the definition of close contact? 
    • According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, you are a close contact if any of the following situations happened while you spent time with a person with COVID-19 during their isolation period, even if they didn’t have symptoms:
      • You were within 6 feet of a person who had COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
      • You had direct exposure to respiratory secretions (for example, being coughed or sneezed on, sharing a drinking glass, utensils, towels or other personal items).
      • You had direct physical contact with the person (for example, a hug, kiss, or handshake).
      • You cared or care for a person who has COVID-19.
      • You lived or live with a person who has COVID-19.
      • You stayed overnight with them for at least one night in the same household.
    • Wearing a mask reduces the risk, but employees who meet one of these criteria would still count as a close contact. See the isolation and quarantine guidance and current orders for more information on when masks are required.
  • When can an employee with a positive COVID-19 test return to work? See our isolation guidance for when a person can leave isolation. They don’t need a negative test to stop isolating. Their test is likely to be positive for many weeks after they recover.

I have an employee who had close contact to someone who tested positive for COVID-19

  • When can an employee who has had close contact to someone with COVID-19 return to work? See our quarantine guidance for when a person needs to quarantine.


Testing, Preventing Spread, and Symptoms

  • Should I require my employees to be tested for COVID-19 before they can work?

  • What can I do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in my workspace?
    • Review our resources for businesses and workspaces.
    • When possible, allow employees to work remotely, communicate virtually, and limit in-person meetings and gatherings.
    • Stagger work schedules and rearrange workspaces to allow physical distancing to be maintained.
    • Provide employees proper PPE (gloves, masks, etc. as defined by job duties and risk of exposure), handwashing supplies, and hand sanitizer.
    • Wear masks indoors.
    • Have policies for hygiene, cleaning, and protective measures.
    • Improve ventilation.
    • Train employees on:
      • Your employee illness policy
      • The symptoms of COVID-19
      • What to do if they test positive or were exposed
      • The importance of frequent hand washing or sanitizing, wearing masks, physical distancing, and cleaning and sanitizing protocols
      • When to wear PPE and the proper way to wear PPE.
  • What symptoms should I tell employees to check for before coming to work?
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fever >=100.4F
    • Chills
    • Muscle pain
    • Sore throat
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Nasal congestion or runny nose
    • This list is not all-inclusive. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.