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The Department of Energy (DOE) is actively monitoring the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.  At present, there are no known confirmed cases at DOE.

Due to the rapidly evolving situation and to ensure DOE employees across the complex have a centralized place to ask questions and express concerns, a COVID-19 Response Team has been established.  The COVID-19 Response Team is a resource for Federal supervisors and employees and on-site support service contractor employees to collect information on potential cases, provide recommendations to federal supervisors and employees and on-site support service contractor employees, and follow-up on any cases.   

A COVID-19 Hotline has been established at 202-586-COVD (202-586-2683) for reporting potential or confirmed COVID-19 cases across the entire DOE Complex.  Suspected cases involving federal supervisors, federal employees, and on-site support service contractor employees that occur at DOE field sites must also be reported through this line.  The COVID-19 Hotline is manned by health and safety experts from Office of Management (MA) and the Associate Under Secretary for Environment, Health, Safety, and Security (AU) during standard business hours (9 AM – 5 PM EST Monday – Friday).  If you contact the Hotline after business hours, your message will be returned the following business day. 

Please contact the COVID-19 Hotline if you:

  1. Have COVID-19-like symptoms (fever over 100.4 o F AND cough or difficulty breathing) or have tested positive for COVID-19; or
  2. Have had close contact with someone who has been presumed to have or confirmed to have COVID-19.

Additionally, an inbox dedicated to COVID-19 questions (COVID-19inquiries@hq.doe.gov) has been established to answer general, human resources, and non-emergency questions that federal employees, federal supervisors and on-site service support contractors may have. This mailbox is set up to accept secure emails.  Please encrypt or password protect any communications containing personally identifiable information, such as an individual's name. The COVID-19 Response Team will follow up with you in an expeditious manner.

The attached Frequently Asked Questions have been developed to address what to do if you or your employee meets one of the above conditions. It provides additional information regarding telework and leave flexibilities.

DOE and COVID-19

Frequently Asked Questions

Update 1 – March 12, 2020

Please note, if you or your family member are having a medical emergency, please call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have, or are being evaluated for COVID-19.

1. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The symptoms for COVID-19 often appear as a common cold – fever, cough, shortness of breath.  The key indicators include a fever over 100.4oF in addition to either a cough or difficulty breathing.

2. What should you do if you have COVID-19-like symptoms while away from work? 

Do not come into the office.  Call your immediate supervisor and discuss telework and leave options. Call your personal doctor.  Follow their procedures. Follow-up with your supervisor regarding any testing or confirmation of diagnosis so that additional actions may be taken to protect the health of the workforce.

3. What should you do if you have COVID-19-like symptoms while at work? 

Inform your immediate supervisor right away in order to leave the building as soon as possible. As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), isolate yourself from others until you can leave.  Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).  Once home, call your personal doctor.  Follow their procedures. Follow-up with your supervisor regarding any testing or confirmation of diagnosis so that additional actions may be taken.

Do not go to the DOE Health Clinics. Please note that the Health Clinics at Forrestal and Germantown are not equipped to test or treat people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases. 

4. What should you do if you have been in close contact with someone who has or may have COVID-19? 

Talk to your immediate supervisor about telework right away.  If you are on a telework agreement, request to telework for the 14 day self-quarantine period recommended by the CDC.  If you are not on a telework agreement, ask to sign a situational telework agreement, if possible.

If you become sick during the self-quarantine period, call your doctor.  Follow their directions.  Inform your immediate supervisor, as soon as possible regarding your change in health status.  Follow-up with your supervisor regarding any testing or confirmation of diagnosis so that additional actions may be taken.

5. What if you are coming from a high-risk travel area (defined as CDC Level 2 and 3)?

Talk to your immediate supervisor about telework right away.  If you are on a telework agreement, request to telework for the 14 day self-quarantine period recommended by the CDC.  If you are not on a telework agreement, ask to sign a situational telework agreement, if possible.

If you become sick during the self-quarantine period, call your doctor.  Follow their directions.  Inform your immediate supervisor, as soon as possible regarding your change in health status.  Follow-up with your supervisor regarding any testing or confirmation of diagnosis so that additional actions may be taken.

6. What should you do if you test positive for COVID-19? 

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, call your immediate supervisor.  Your privacy will be protected to the greatest extent possible and your identity will not be disclosed except to those on a need-to-know basis in order to protect the health of the employees in the workplace.

7. What options are available if I am a federal employee, my Federal office is open and I am healthy, but schools are closed?

In this situation, you can telework with a child (or other persons requiring care) present at the home.  If you are on a telework agreement, request telework from your supervisor.  You must still account for work and non-work hours during the day and take appropriate leave (paid or unpaid) to account from time spent away from normal work-related duties (e.g., to care for a child or dependent).  If you are not on a telework agreement, ask to sign a situational telework agreement, if possible.  If you are not a telework participant, you can use annual leave or other paid time off (e.g., compensatory time, credit hours). 

8. What should you do to protect your family?

The Department strongly encourages implementing the measures of prevention outlined by the CDC as well as reviewing the tips forprotecting yourself and your family.  The easiest way to prevent the spreading of COVID-19 is to stay at home when you are not feeling well and don’t travel on public transportation.  

Frequently Asked Questions for Supervisors

1. As a Supervisor, how do you prepare your organization?

Supervisors should ensure that written telework agreements are in place for as many people as possible.  Encourage situational telework agreements to provide coverage during COVID-19 when people may need to practice social distancing.  Be flexible in approving requests for situational telework.

2. What should you do if your employee is concerned about his/her potential exposure to COVID-19 or is returning from travel from a high-risk country (defined as CDC Level 2 and 3)?

Talk to your employee about their concerns and remain flexible.  If they are telework-ready, allow them to telework for the 14-day self-quarantine period recommended by the CDC.  If they are not telework-ready, consider expanding telework to provide additional flexibility for your employee.  Consider if their position could support telework and/or if they would like to enter into a situational telework agreement for this period.  If their position doesn’t support any form of telework or if your employee chooses not to telework, talk with them about potential leave options, including the use of annual leave, advanced annual leave, other paid time off (e.g., earned compensatory time off, earned credit hours).  If your employee refuses to telework or use personal leave, ensure you receive guidance from HC and GC for how to proceed.

3. How do I protect the privacy of my employee who is suspected to have COVID-19?

A supervisor may provide general information to employees to let them know that someone in their organization is/may be infected with the virus to allow employees to monitor themselves for signs or symptoms and quarantine themselves, if appropriate.  To comply with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), and to avoid other privacy issues, supervisors may not, however, specifically disclose the identity of the infected employee or provide information that will allow other employees to identify the infected individual.

4. Can I ask my employees about recent travel and/or potential exposure to COVID-19?

The ADA prohibits employers from asking employees about their health and medical conditions. However, the Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act guidance issued by the EEOC () provides that during a pandemic, exceptions to the ADA restrictions on employer health inquiries allow employers to inquire about an employee's potential infection with the disease and related travel.  Pursuant to the guidance, if the individual does not have the disease, the employer will not be asking about a current medical condition and the ADA will not be implicated.  If the individual is infected, the ADA's direct threat rule allows inquiries because an employee will pose a direct threat to co-workers and others in the workplace.

5. My federal employee has been confirmed with COVID-19. Now what?

If your employee is sick, Weather and Safety Leave is not appropriate and other leave options (e.g., sick, annual, advanced leave) needs to be discussed.  Contact the COVID-19 Hotline (202-586-2683) if this situation has not already been reported or send information about your employee to the COVID Inquiries mailbox ().  Remember to Entrust or password protect any e-mails.

6. My employee has been placed on the 14-day self-quarantine.  Now what?

If your employee is asymptomatic (i.e., not sick) and on a telework agreement, the employee must telework.  If your employee is asymptomatic and not on a telework agreement, place your employee on administrative leave (weather and safety leave) for the quarantine period. 

If your employee is sick or becomes sick, administrative leave is not appropriate and other leave options (e.g., sick, annual, advanced leave) needs to be discussed. 

Contact the COVID-19 Hotline (202-586-2683) if this situation has not already been reported or send information about your employee to the COVID Inquiries mailbox ().  Remember to Entrust or password protect any e-mails.

7. What should you do if your employee has reported that they have had close contact with someone with COVID-19?

Your employee should self-quarantine for 14 days in accordance with the CDC recommendations.  Talk to your employee about telework options.  If they are on a telework agreement, require them to telework for the 14 day self-quarantine period.  If they are not on a telework agreement, have them sign a situational telework agreement, if possible.

If they become sick during the self-quarantine period, have them call their doctor and follow their doctor’s instructions. 

Contact the COVID-19 Hotline (202-586-2683) if this situation has not already been reported or send information about your employee to the COVID Inquiries mailbox (COVID-19inquiries@hq.doe.gov).  Remember to Entrust or password protect any e-mails.

8. What should you do if your employee is showing signs of COVID-19-like symptoms at work? 

If you observe symptoms, express your concern regarding the employee’s health and remind them of their leave options (e.g., sick, annual, compensatory time).  If the employee has no leave, you, as the supervisor, are authorized to approve requests for advanced leave or leave without pay in certain circumstances.  If they are telework-ready, you can ask them to telework for social distancing purposes.  Contact the COVID-19 Hotline (202-586-2683) if this situation has not already been reported or send information about your employee to the COVID Inquiries mailbox (). 

If none of these options are available for the employee, an employee may be placed on administrative leave in certain circumstances.  Administrative leave is a paid, non-duty status that does not require the employee’s consent and does not trigger adverse action procedures.  Do not place an employee on administrative leave until HC and GC are consulted. 

9. Does my federal employee need a doctor’s note to use 3 or more days of sick leave for COVID-19-like symptoms?  Does my employee need a doctor’s note to return to work?

In order to prevent early return to work by ill employees, which could enhance transmission, and avoid overburdening local health providers, supervisors may at their discretion waive the requirement for employees to provide a medical note if absent from work more than 3 days. Supervisors may consider an employee’s self-certification as to the reason for the absence as administratively acceptable evidence, regardless of the duration of the absence.  However, if an employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19, employees are strongly encouraged to obtain medical certification documenting that the employee may return to work.