MMTA STAFF ILLNESS GUIDELINES

UPDATED September 30, 2021

Below are guidelines that we developed to address our intention to provide an illness-free workplace. Whenever possible, these apply to all illnesses but are being communicated in the context of COVID-19 and the importance of feeling safe and healthy at work. This is not an all-inclusive list of every scenario and we encourage you to contact your supervisor, Tim or Brian if you have any questions.

TIER 1 SYMPTOMS

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever above 100 degrees
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea or vomiting

TIER 2 SYMPTOMS

  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea

TIER 1 SYMPTOMS:

  • Put on a mask, notify your supervisor and go home immediately if you experience any Tier 1 symptoms.
  • Follow the Maine CDC guidelines on Isolation - page 3:
    • If you test positive for COVID-19, stay home until you meet the criteria for release from isolation outlined below under "You Test Positive for COVID".
    • If you are experiencing COVID symptoms without a positive COVID test, stay home for 10 days from the start of symptoms with the exception of seeking medical care and treatment.

Additional precautions may be required upon your return such as requiring you to wear a face mask while in the office, requiring you to shut your office door and/or not allow others in your workspace, not allowing you to access shared spaces and/or equipment for a period of time and any other reasonable precaution to ensure an illness-free workplace.

TIER 2 SYMPTOMS:

If you experience any Tier 2 symptoms, please wear a mask immediately and discuss with your supervisor to determine next steps.

ISOLATION: If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you must self-isolate at home and you cannot go out to any public places (grocery store, gas station, bank, etc.). Follow the Maine CDC's instructions in “What is isolation?”.

RETURN TO WORK: The positive individual cannot leave isolation until they meet the criteria listed in the CDC's “Release from isolation criteria” on page 4 that says:

  • If you tested positive for COVID-19 and had COVID-19 symptoms and are caring for yourself at home, you can leave your "sick room" and home when:
    • at least 10 days passed since your symptoms first appeared; AND
    • had no fever for at least 1 day (24 hours of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fever), AND
    • other symptoms are improved (example: cough or shortness of breath).
  • If you tested positive for COVID-19 and never had any symptoms and are caring for yourself at home, you can leave your "sick room" and home when:
    • at least 10 days passed since the date of your first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test; AND
    • you continue to have no symptoms (example: no cough or shortness of breath) since the test.
  • Additional precautions may be required upon your return such as requiring you to wear a face mask while in the office, requiring you to shut your office door and/or not allow others in your workspace, not allowing you to access shared spaces and/or equipment for a period of time and any other reasonable precaution to ensure an illness-free workplace.

For the purposes of this section, “close contacts” are defined as anyone you have been within 6-feet of for 15 cumulative minutes or more – regardless of either party being masked or unmasked.

If you are aware you have been in “close contact” with someone who has a confirmed COVID test, the Maine CDC recommendations depend upon your vaccination status:

  • For someone who had close contact (not fully vaccinated): Stay home for 10 days after your last contact with someone who has COVID-19, then monitor for symptoms for 4 more days. A negative test result does not get you out of quarantine.
  • For fully vaccinated close contacts: Get a COVID-19 test 3-5 days after exposure and wear a face covering in indoor public spaces for 14 days (or until you receive negative test results). You do not need to quarantine.
  • Click here for the Maine CDC guidelines on quarantines - on page 6.

Additional precautions may be required upon your return such as requiring you to wear a face mask while in the office, requiring you to shut your office door and/or not allow others in your workspace, not allowing you to access shared spaces and/or equipment for a period of time and any other reasonable precaution to ensure an illness-free workplace.

For the purposes of this section, “close contacts” are defined as anyone you have been within 6-feet of for 15 cumulative minutes or more – regardless of either party being masked or unmasked.

If you are aware you have had a “close contact” with someone who has possible, but not confirmed, exposure:

  • Wear a mask at all times in the office until the “close contact” receives a negative COVID test; or
  • Wear a mask at all times in the office for 10-days after your exposure to the “close contact” without a negative COVID test result and you have not experienced any Tier 1 symptoms;
  • When this guidance requires you to wear a mask:
    • You may choose to not to wear a face covering only in your workspace. If so, you need to notify any co-worker who enters your workspace that you are taking precautions and, for their safety, they need to practice strict 6-feet social distancing; and
    • You are responsible for disinfecting any surfaces you touch (such as shared equipment) after each use.

If the person you have had a “close contact” with receives a positive COVID test result, please refer to the section above titled Your Exposure to Someone With Positive COVID Test.

While we highly encourage employees to get vaccinated, we do not require you to do so. If you have the opportunity to get vaccinated, we would like to support your efforts especially if there is a need to take time off and/or any expense that might otherwise inhibit your vaccination plans – please see Brian if this is the case. Also, if you do get vaccinated, we request that you let us know as this will likely play a role in our decisions if you exhibit Tier 2 symptoms subsequent to your vaccination.

Employees can elect to take paid time off (PTO), comp. time (if earned) and/or vacation time for this purpose. We will consider alternate requests on a case-by-case basis if time has already been used up, but please keep this in mind as you take time off during these uncertain times.

As capacity limits for indoor gatherings change, we will make every attempt to keep our office visitors and meetings policy up-to-date.  We want to be clear, however, that we remain committed to the health and safety of our team and the following revision reflects a conservative approach in keeping with Maine CDC guidelines.

  • Visitors will be asked to sanitize their hands upon entering the building.
  • Unvaccinated staff members should continue to wear a mask during your interactions with visitors and while outside the office on MMTA business. Vaccinated staff members can choose to wear a mask at their discretion.
  • The conference room occupancy limit will be a maximum of 30 depending upon the occasion. Distancing requirements will still be considered, taking into account tables (for seminars) or chairs-only for other gatherings.
  • We will not be using the conference room for outside groups not directly affiliated with the MMTA.

Reiterating our position since the beginning of the pandemic, nobody should be put in situations that they feel is unsafe – no amount of business is more important than our safety. Period. If a situation arises that makes you uncomfortable, please let Tim, Cecile or Brian know and we will help engineer out the concern, or give you direction/support.

Rapid Antigen Tests
A rapid antigen test can be administered for individuals with or without COVID-19 symptoms. This test involves collecting nose and throat secretions via nasopharyngeal swab and then examining them for protein fragments specific to the COVID-19 virus. While these tests provide quick results—within 15 minutes—they are generally considered to be less accurate than PCR tests. It’s common to get a false negative (a result that indicates the individual does not have coronavirus when they actually do) or a false positive (a result that indicates a person has coronavirus when they actually don’t). If you are feeling under the weather and received a negative rapid test, you may want to receive the PCR test for further confirmation. However, when administered while someone is at the peak of their infection, rapid antigen tests generally provide accurate results as this is when virus levels in the body are the highest.

PCR Tests
PCR tests are similar to rapid tests in several ways, as they can be administered to those with or without symptoms and are conducted with a nasopharyngeal swab. But that’s where the similarities end.

PCR tests are considered the gold standard when it comes to COVID-19 testing. In fact, if you have ever been asked to show proof of a COVID-19 test, you were required to provide results from a PCR test. These tests provide more accurate results than rapid tests, and that’s because they use a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to identify the viral genetic material of COVID-19. This genetic material can be detected while a person is actively infected and also after the acute illness.

The downside to PCR tests, of course, is that results are not as quick as rapid tests. The general timeline is three to seven days, although it can be longer during peak periods.