Businesses and employers play an important role in preventing and slowing the spread of COVID-19 within the workplace.
- Workplace Guidance & Vaccine Information
- Workers Guidance & Vaccine Information
- Worker Protection Program
CCDPH can Support You in Maintaining Healthy and Safe Business Operations
Role of Businesses and Employers
On February 2, 2021, suburban Cook County re-entered into Phase 4 of Restore Illinois.
As you resume business operations, it is important to re-assess progress and revisit policies, protocols and procedures that prevent and reduce spread among your workers. Click here for detailed safety guidelines for businesses.
If you have specific questions or comments about how Phase 4 affects your business or employees, please feel free to get in touch with the Dept. of Commerce. For direct support, contact the Business Hotline Monday through Friday at 1-800-252-2923, or email at: [email protected].
Businesses in suburban Cook County (excluding Evanston, Oak Park, Skokie, and Stickney Township) should report all known or suspected COVID-19 cases in employees to CCDPH. Please call (708) 836-8699 to report the information.
Vaccine information for employers of essential workers
Frontline essential workers and other essential workers have been identified by the CDC as priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination due to high risk of exposure to COVID-19 infection. There are three main ways that businesses who employ frontline essential workers and other essential workers can move forward on facilitating vaccine for your employees.
- Enroll as an approved COVID-19 vaccine provider. If your facility meets the requirements in Section 5 of the Illinois COVID-19 Vaccination Plan to provide COVID-19 vaccinations, you can register your facility as an independent vaccinator site.
If your facility becomes an approved COVID-19 vaccine provider, call the CCDPH COVID-19 Hotline at 708-633-2599 to start requesting vaccine from CCDPH.
- Partner with an approved COVID-19 vaccine provider. Third-party vaccination providers, such as those who offer onsite flu clinics, can be contracted to provide vaccinations at your workplace. If you have a relationship with a third-party provider, please reach out to work with them before contacting a new provider.If they have not yet applied to become an approved COVID-19 vaccine provider, they will need to complete the steps to become one. Additional provider options will be added to this website once available.CCDPH does not endorse any of the listed organizations. Information is provided only as a convenience. See the full disclaimer. Companies located in CCDPH’s jurisdiction serving individuals with limited resources or access to care may request consideration for on-site vaccination by completing this form.
- Promote the Cook County vaccine registration site. Cook County launched a website for the purpose of providing vaccine updates and offering vaccine appointments through Cook County Health sites. The portal allows people to be placed in the proper phase and, if appointments are available, to schedule their vaccination. This process is expected to take some time, so please help us ask for patience from your employees/workers. A vaccination appointment hotline is available for any essential workers who lack internet access or are not comfortable with technology. Call 1-833-308-1988 from Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Consider taking additional steps to encourage your employees to get vaccinated.
- Be flexible in your human resources policies. Establish policies that allow employees to take paid leave to seek COVID-19 vaccination at a location in suburban Cook County, if on-site vaccination is not possible. Support transportation to off-site vaccination clinics.
- Display promotional posters/flyers about COVID-19 vaccination in break rooms, cafeterias, and other high traffic areas.
- Post information in company communications (e.g., newsletters, intranet, emails, portals) about the importance of COVID-19 vaccination and where to get the vaccine.
Need education resources?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designed an Essential Workers COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit to support companies like yours in educating your essential workers about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, many workers have questions about the differences among the three vaccines. It’s critical to communicate that all three vaccines are safe and effective and that the best vaccine is whichever one is available to you.
Check out this one-pager and social media content with FAQs about the three vaccines, and two videos — Understanding the COVID-19 Vaccine and Learning about the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine — featuring Dr. Claudia Fegan, Chief Medical Officer of Cook County Health.
What happens when workers get vaccinated? While it is important to continue to take precautions like wearing a mask and staying six feet apart from others, there are some changes to guidance when people are fully vaccinated. Click here to find out what’s new.
Additional COVID-19 Resources for Businesses
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention General Business FAQ
- Illinois Department of Public Health Business and Organization Guidance
- Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity COVID-19 Resources
- Illinois Department of Human Rights FAQ for Businesses on Face Coverings
- Cook County Community Recovery Initiative
How to Protect Yourself and Others… and Slow the Spread
We all play a role in preventing and slowing the spread of COVID-19. In addition to following any new policies or procedures related to illness, cleaning and disinfecting, and work meetings and travel at your workplace, below are steps that you can take to protect yourself at work and at home.
- Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care, and to learn what to do if they are sick.
- Inform your supervisor if you have a sick household member at home with COVID-19 and to learn what to do if someone in your home is sick.
- Wear a mask when out in public and when around people who do not live in their household, especially when physical distancing is hard to maintain.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or to use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. Use soap and water when hands are visibly dirty. Key times for you to clean your hands include:
- Before and after work shifts
- Before and after work breaks
- After blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After using the restroom
- Before eating or preparing food
- After putting on, touching, or removing cloth face coverings
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of their elbow. Throw used tissues into no-touch trash cans and immediately wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Learn more about coughing and sneezing etiquette on the CDC website.
- Practice routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched objects and surfaces such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, and doorknobs. Dirty surfaces can be cleaned with soap and water prior to disinfection. To disinfect, use products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2 external icon, the cause of COVID-19, and are appropriate for the surface.
- Avoid using other employees’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible. Clean and disinfect them before and after use.
- Practice physical distancing by avoiding large gatherings and maintaining distance (at least 6 feet) from others when possible.
COVID-19 vaccines are finally here. There is a lot of information about the vaccines, and it is hard to know what is true and what is false. View CCDPH infographic that busts common myths. To learn more about the vaccines, view COVID-19 Information for Workers and check out two videos — Understanding the COVID-19 Vaccine and Learning about the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine — featuring Dr. Claudia Fegan, Chief Medical Officer of Cook County Health.
CCDPH is following the phases for COVID-19 vaccination program. Click here to learn more about Phase 1a and Phase 1b and see if you are eligible now to get your vaccine.
Interested in getting the vaccine?
Ask your employer if they will be providing on-site vaccinations. If not, register at the Cook County registration site. Cook County has launched a website for the purpose of providing vaccine updates and offering vaccine appointments through Cook County Health sites. The portal allows people to be placed in the proper phase and, if appointments are available, to schedule their vaccination. A vaccination appointment hotline is available if you lack internet access or are not comfortable with technology. Call 1-833-308-1988 from Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
CCDPH, Raise the Floor Alliance, and several worker centers collaborate to promote and protect the health and safety of workers
Suburban Cook County Workers Protection Program
Education: Educating employers and workers of their rights, responsibilities, and best practices for reducing transmission of COVID-19 to promote healthy and safe workplaces.
Reporting: Assuring workers have a safe, confidential way of reporting violations to identify noncompliant employers; and maintaining transparent communication across relevant parties regarding actions to address complaints.
Compliance: Supporting employers and workers to comply with recommendations and requirements to reduce COVID-19 transmission.
Together with CCDPH, Raise the Floor and several worker centers are educating workers on their rights and linking them to existing resources. They are reaching workers who are undocumented, immigrants, people of color, low-wage, and/or formerly incarcerated and work across a number of different industries. Raise the Floor and the worker centers are also outreaching to employers to share COVID-19-related guidance and best practices.
This project is made possible by funds received through the COVID-19 Local Health Department (LHD) Contact Tracing Grant from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH)
COVID-19 FAQs for workplaces
FAQs for Employers
Am I considered an essential business?
For information on whether your business is essential, please see this Essential Business and Operations FAQ from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (Dept. of Commerce). It has answers to many questions about specific types of businesses. If you still are not sure, you can reach out to the Dept. of Commerce at 1-800-252-2923 or [email protected]
What am I required to do if I’m a retail store?
Retail stores (including stores that sell groceries and medicine, hardware stores, greenhouses, garden centers, and nurseries) designated as Essential Businesses and Operations must: • Provide face coverings to all employees who are not able to maintain a 6-foot distance at all times
- Cap occupancy at 50 percent of store capacity, or alternatively, at the occupancy limits based on the store square footage set by the Dept. of Commerce.
- Where practical, set-up store aisles to be one-way to maximize spacing between customers.
- Identify one-way aisles with conspicuous signage and/or floor markings
- Communicate with customers through in-store signage, public service announcements, and ads about the social distancing requirements
- Discontinue use of reusable bags
What are the alternative occupancy limits for essential businesses?
Stores must limit customers in the store at one time to 5 customers per 1,000 square feet. This excludes employees. The customer occupancy limit is calculated by taking the total square footage of the permanent structure the business occupies and divide by 1,000. If the square footage of the facility is less than 1,000, the number of people is also less than 5 based on percentage.
What am I required to do if I’m a manufacturer?
Manufacturers that continue to operate must follow Social Distancing Requirements and take appropriate precautions, which may include:
- Providing face coverings to all employees who are not able to maintain a minimum 6-foot social distance at all times
- Staggering shifts and reducing line speeds • Operating only essential lines, while shutting down non-essential lines
- Ensuring that all spaces where employees may gather, including locker rooms and lunchrooms, allow for social distancing
- Downsizing operations to allow for social distancing and to provide a safe workplace in response to the COVID-19 emergency.
What if I have an employee who has a confirmed case of COVID-19?
- Encourage the employee to follow recommendations from their doctor and health department about isolation at home.
- Ask the employee about their first day of their symptoms, if they had symptoms at work, and any individuals at work they had close contact with 48 hours before symptoms developed and when they had symptoms. Close contact is defined as within 6 feet for more than 10 minutes.
- If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure but maintain confidentiality as required by federal law.
- Contacts of contacts have no restrictions. Facilities should not close because contacts of contacts of cases visited that location.
- If an employee had close contact with another employee, then they should stay home until 14 days after the last exposure, self-monitor for symptoms, avoid contact with high-risk individuals, and follow this guidance if symptoms develop.
- Perform cleaning and disinfection after person with COVID-19 was in the facility. Details of the type of cleaning and disinfection varies depending on the kind of workplace or business. For non-healthcare facilities (e.g., offices, daycare centers, businesses, community centers) close off the area used by the sick person, wait 24 hours or as long as possible before you clean or disinfect. Please see detailed cleaning recommendations at the CDC’s website.
How can I safely implement curbside pick-up?
- To the extent feasible and to minimize contact, curbside pick-up orders should be paid for online or over the telephone.
- Businesses and organizations are encouraged to schedule a pick-up or drop-off to ensure compliance with social distancing requirements.
- Staff within the business or facility should be limited to the minimum number of staff required to fulfill orders, and to the number that can safely practice social distancing.
- Customers should not enter the business or facility.
- Some organizations have developed a pallet system, where staff place orders outside on a pallet for customers to pick up. When the customer arrives, they notify the store. The employee then places the order on the pallet, and the customer picks up the order once the employee has returned to the store.
When can an employee return to work after they’ve been sick with COVID-19?
- Employers should not require a COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or to return to work.
- For persons recovered from COVID-19 illness, isolation at home can end and they can return to work 10 days after illness onset AND at least 3 days (72 hours) after recovery.
- Illness onset is defined as the date symptoms begin.
- Recovery is defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications with progressive improvement or resolution of other symptoms.
Where can I get financial assistance for my business?
For information on local and federal assistance for your business, please see this list of Emergency Resources for Businesses from the Dept. of Commerce. The resource is also available in Spanish.
For information on the Cook County Recovery Initiative, a comprehensive initiative to provide economic relief to small businesses, non-profits, and community service organizations, please see the Cook County Community Recovery Initiative website.
How do I or an employee properly wear masks?
- Before putting on a mask, clean hands with hand sanitizer or soap and water.
- Cover mouth and nose with mask. Make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
- Avoid touching the mask while using it. If you touch your mask, clean your hands with hand sanitizer or soap and water.
- Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp or visibly soiled. Otherwise, masks should be changed once a week.
- To remove the mask: remove it from behind and do not touch the front of mask. Clean hands with hand sanitizer or soap and water after removing it
FAQs for Employees
Is my employer really an essential business?
Employees with questions if their place of employment should remain open can visit the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity COVID-19 website, call the hotline at 1-800-252-2923, or email [email protected].
My employer is not practicing social distancing, who can I report this to?
The Illinois Office of the Attorney General has a hotline for workplace violations. Call the hotline at 844-740-5076 or email [email protected].
For workers with concerns about long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, please call the Illinois Dept. of Public Health through their hotline: 1-800-252-4343. More information is also available at this website.
What resources are available for workers whose hours have been cut, workplace has closed or who have been terminated?
If you have been temporarily laid off due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits as long as you are able, available, and actively seeking work. Under recently adopted emergency rules. You do not have to register with the employment service, and are instead considered to be actively seeking work as long as you are prepared to return to your job as soon as your employer re-opens.
- To ask about state unemployment insurance visit the Illinois Department of Employment Security website for more information or call 1-800-244-5631.
- The Chicago-Cook Workforce Partnership has a website with resources for job seekers, utility bill relief, food, unemployment insurance, and Medicaid waivers.
- School districts throughout Cook County suburbs are providing meals to families in need. Go here for details: www.bit.ly/CookCountyMeals
What do I do if I am unable to secure mask/face-covering?
If you are unable to secure masks, many local businesses now sell cloth face coverings. Click here to learn how you can make your own cloth masks. Cloth face coverings should be washed after every use. A washing machine should suffice in properly washing a face covering.
What resources are available to support immigrant workers?
- Arise Chicago has information for how to protect yourself if you are currently working, for domestic workers, including sample letters and petitions, what to do if you lose work hours or lose your job, local resources to help you, immigrant rights. Find out what is Arise doing during this crisis and what you can do to help.
- Centro de Trabajadores Unidos (CTU) – As immigrants and allies, CTU has been mobilizing and advocating for comprehensive immigration reform that keeps families together. CTU provides training and education on immigration rights, including the Dream Act and Deferred Action; citizenship classes; community citizenship workshops; and educates legislators on the issues and needs of the immigrant community to support passage of just legislation. Workers are granted certain basic legal rights to safe, healthy and fair conditions at work. Visit the CTU website for information about worker rights, occupational health and safety laws, minimum wage, overtime laws and discrimination.
I lost my job because of COVID-19, where do I apply for assistance?
If you’re without access to paid sick leave or unable to work because of COVID-19, call Illinois Department of Employment Security at 1-800-244-5631 to apply for unemployment insurance.
What if I get COVID-19 at work? I am still working.
If you have been exposed to a person with COVID-19, you can continue to go to work but should monitor your health for 14 days and stay away from others if you get sick. Please see the question below about sick leave expansion during COVID-19.
If you become ill with fever, cough, or shortness of breath, stay home for at least 7 days after you first became ill, or 72 hours after your fever has resolved and symptoms are improving, whichever is longer. Most people will have mild symptoms and be able to recover at home.
Consult with your doctor if you have: fever, cough, trouble breathing, chills, or other flu like symptoms that are not better or are worsening after 24‐48 hours, or if you have mild symptoms and are pregnant, have a weakened immune system, have chronic health conditions, or are an older adult (60+).
- If you don’t have insurance, you can seek care at a community health center or Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). FQHCs provide healthcare based on a sliding fee. You can find the nearest health center by going to: https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/ Please call ahead. Please note: ICE has suspended removal operations at health care settings.
- If you need immediate medical attention, and you think you may have COVID‐19, call your healthcare provider’s office or clinic before going in for care. If you think you are having a medical emergency, call 911. If you have been exposed to COVID‐19, notify dispatch personnel so emergency medical services personnel are prepared.
Am I eligible for sick leave or FMLA?
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires most companies and nonprofits under 500 employees to provide extended family and medical leave benefits and up to two weeks of paid sick leave to their employees for COVID-19 related reasons. Generally,
- Two weeks of paid sick leave is available to all employees until December 31, 2020. For employees that are unable to work because they are quarantined or experiencing COVID symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis, they should receive their regular rate of pay. For employees who are unable to work because they are caring for an individual subject to quarantine or a child whose school or childcare closed, they should receive 2/3 of regular pay.
- Extends Family and Medical Leave benefits, adding up to 10 weeks of paid leave, to employees of companies with fewer than 500 workers if caring for a child whose school or day care has closed. The pay is at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay. This FMLA extension is available until December 31, 2020.
Resources for Workers
Economic Assistance is available for working families and businesses through Cook County Government and the State of Illinois. Visit these websites for information about loans for small businesses, unemployment insurance, cell phone and utility relief, food access, Medicaid waivers, taxes, and more. Click on the photo tiles at page bottom for IDPH Resources for Economic Assistance and U.S Department of Labor. Additional resources can be found on our Resources page.
General Communication Materials
CCDPH’s “My Shot” campaign/microsite – Vaccine information, factsheets, graphics and social media graphics
CCDPH’s “#Maskup” campaign/microsite – Stresses the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing, even now that vaccines are available
CCDPH’s “Answer the Call” campaign/microsite – Why Contact Tracing is so important to stop the spread of COVID-19