70ºF

As Texas reopens, businesses don’t need to disclose COVID-19 cases

Metro Health reaches out to people in close contact with COVID-19 patients as part of contact tracing

San Antonio – While San Antonians may know how many COVID-19 cases have been found in their community, it’s not always clear where exactly they may have occurred.

Online statistics record statistics by ZIP code, but individual businesses are generally not required to disclose if they have had any COVID-19 cases among staff, said San Antonio Metropolitan Health District Assistant Director Anita Kurian.

“We are not requiring businesses to post signage saying ‘we had a positive employee within our establishment.’ Some businesses are choosing to do that, and they are certainly welcome to do that,” Kurian said.

Employees at New Braunfels, Bulverde H-E-B stores test positive for COVID-19

Kurian said Metro Health is not recommending taking that step either. However, things would change if there were a larger exposure they haven’t been able to fully track or verify. In that case, the agency may also contact the media.

“From the data and our public health experience and public health investigations, we are seeing transmissions occurring among close contacts. So if we believe there is no instance of that happening, then we are not recommending it,” Kurian said. “If we strongly believe there is exposure within the facility, then absolutely we will be strongly recommending to do that. And we, in fact, will reach out directly to the folks involved to let them know about that exposures.”

On the other hand, Metro Health does recommend that business owners let employees know about any positive cases even though that’s not a requirement either.

“Like, especially in schools, day cares, day camps, you know, summer camps,” Kurian said. “If you have a child who is positive, our recommendation is, you know, just for general awareness, notify the parents so they are aware of this.”

There are some instances when people should expect to be notified.

2 popular Gruene restaurants, 1 New Braunfels bakery temporarily close after employees test positive for COVID-19

Nursing homes, for example, must tell residents and their families if there is a positive case at a facility, and the Texas Education Agency has instructed school districts that parent must get written notification if a positive case is found among staff or students at a summer school program.

Meanwhile, Metro Health will continue to perform a contact tracing investigation for every positive case, Kurian said.

“So if that is an exposure, we do directly reach out to each one of those who’ve been identified as close contacts and let them know directly from by public health, regardless of, you know, whether the business owner or the facility has - have notified them or not,” Kurian said.


About the Authors: