If law enforcement personnel have direct personal contact with an individual with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, they should immediately use alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol, or wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. They should also avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth. Any uniform items (or other surfaces) that were potentially exposed should be disinfected or cleaned as soon as feasible. For example, the duty belt or other non-porous items can be disinfected using products that are EPA-approved for use against the virusexternal icon. Porous items, like the uniform, should be replaced as soon as possible and then laundered according to manufacturers’ recommendations. This is especially important if any body fluids were expelled during the encounter (bloodborne pathogen protocols should also be followed if applicable). Gloves should be worn when touching potentially contaminated items or applying disinfectants and it is important to perform hand hygiene upon removing gloves or other PPE.
Law enforcement personnel who have an exposure should be evaluated by their occupational health program and may be able to finish their work shift before starting home isolation.
If personnel and resources are available, it is most protective for law enforcement personnel to stay at home until 14 days after exposure to an individual with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 if the exposure was prolonged (10 minutes or more) or if the exposure was of concern (e.g., the individual coughed into the face of the law enforcement officer). This would best protect the health of the exposed worker, their co-workers, and the general public.
The best way to protect yourself and others is to stay home for 14 days if you think you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID-19. Check your local health department’s website for information about options in your area to possibly shorten this quarantine period.
However, if personnel and resources are not available, law enforcement personnel (considered critical infrastructure workers) may be permitted to work after exposure to ensure continuity of operations. To continue working, the exposed worker should remain symptom-free, and the employer should put into place the following prevention strategies for the exposed worker:
- Screen the worker for symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, or shortness of breath) before each work shift
- Regularly monitor the worker for symptoms, under the supervision of an occupational health program
- Ensure the worker practices social distancing (remaining at least 6 feet away from others)
- Ensure the worker wears a facemask (or cloth face covering if facemasks are unavailable) to protect others
If an exposed worker develops symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, or shortness of breath) and is still working, the employer should:
For more information, see CDC’s updated guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19.