As announced at the White House Press Briefing on the evening of April 8, 2020, yesterday, the Center for Disease Control has modified their guidelines for First Responders that may have been exposed to individuals infected with COVID-19.  The new guidelines that were most recently posted on the CDC’s Website are meant to assist agencies in “ensuring continuity of operations of essential functions.” Based on this premonition, the CDC now advises that critical infrastructure workers (which includes First Responders) may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.

In accordance with the guidelines, a potential exposure means “being a household contact” or “having close contact within 6 feet of an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19”.  The time frame for having contact or exposure with an individual is defined as 48 hours before the individual became symptomatic.

Based on this new guidance, if a First Responder has been exposed in accordance with the two criteria listed above, but remains asymptomatic, the employer may make the decision of sending the employee back to work so long as the following procedures and precautionary measures are taken both prior and during their work shift:

  • The First Responder must be Pre-Screened prior to the Start of the Shift: Employers must measure the employee’s temperature and assess symptoms prior to the start of the work shift. Temperature checks should happen before the individual enters the facility.
  • The First Responder must be Regularly Monitored During the Shift: As long as the employee doesn’t have a temperature or symptoms, they should self-monitor under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program.
  • The First Responder Must Wear a Mask during the Work Shift: The employee should wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after last exposure.
  • The First Responder must Practice Social Distancing: The employee should maintain 6 feet and practice social distancing as work duties permit in the workplace.
  • The Employer must Disinfect and Clean Work Spaces: Clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment routinely.

It is incredibly important to recognize that these guidelines are a departure from the CDC’s previous guidelines which mandated that all employees exposed to an individual that is confirmed positive for COVID-19 self quarantine for period of fourteen (14) days.  Political Pundits have stated that these new guidelines were put in place as a response to the growing shortage of critical infrastructure employees due to the fourteen (14) day “exposure” quarantine period as well as this is the Trump Administration’s first action of bringing “exposed” employees back into the workforce sooner rather than later.

However in light of these new guidelines, First Responders, must remember the following:

  • Implementing the change in the policy is not mandatory.  In other words, your employer can continue following the previous guidelines of  self quarantining all employees that had direct exposure with an individual that has been confirmed positive for COVID-19.  With that being said, if the employer does choose to implement the new guidelines it will be much harder for us to enforce the old guidelines for local employees (County and Municipal).
  • If your employer chooses to follow the new guidelines, the demand for employer provided PPE is now more important than ever as the chance of infection will become greater.  Based on this fact, employers must do whatever is necessary to source the proper PPE.
  • First Responders that have been exposed must be tested immediately.  The New Jersey State P.B.A. has located and identified Testing Facilities that are dedicated to First Responders.  These facilities are open to all Law Enforcement Officers, not just PBA members.  Therefore, if you are a First Responder and you have been exposed to a person that has tested positive for COVID-19, get a test as soon as possible.  This is especially true if your Department adopts and implements the new CDC guidelines referenced in this Article.

As Always, thank you for your service and please stay safe and healthy out there.

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Photo of Frank M. Crivelli Frank M. Crivelli

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state…

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state, county and local law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS workers.

Mr. Crivelli specializes his individual practice in collective negotiations.  Over the past twenty (20) years, Mr. Crivelli has negotiated well over one hundred (100) collective bargaining agreements for various state, county, municipal and private organizations and has resolved over thirty-five (35) labor agreements that have reached impasse through compulsory interest arbitration.  Mr. Crivelli routinely litigates matters in front of the New Jersey State Public Employment Relations Commission, the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law, third party neutrals for mediation, grievance and interest arbitration, the Superior Court of New Jersey and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Mr. Crivelli founded and created the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog ( approximately fifteen (15) years ago where he and members of his firm routinely publish blog posts regarding legal issues related to the employment of New Jersey Public Safety Officers.  The blog now contains over six hundred (600) articles and is reviewed and relied upon by thousands of public employees.  Mr. Crivelli has also published books and manuals pertaining to New Jersey Public Employee Disability Pension Appeals and the New Jersey Worker’s Compensation System. Currently, he is drafting a publication on how to Prepare and Negotiate a Collective Bargaining Agreement.  He lectures annually at the New Jersey State PBA Collective Bargaining Seminar, the National Association of Police Organization’s Legal Seminar, the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission Seminar on Public Employment Labor Law, the United States Marine Corps’ Commander’s Media Training Symposium and to Union Executive Boards and General Membership bodies on various labor related topics.

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Crivelli joined the United States Marine Corps where he served as a Judge Advocate with the Legal Services Support Section of the First Force Services Support Group in Camp Pendleton, California.  While serving in the Marine Corps, Mr. Crivelli defended and prosecuted hundreds of Special and General Court Martial cases and administrative separation matters.  In addition to his trial duties, Mr. Crivelli was also charged with the responsibility of training various Marine and Naval combat command elements on the interpretation and implementation of the rules of engagement for various military conflicts that were ongoing throughout the world at that time. After leaving active duty, Mr. Crivelli remained in the Marine Corps Reserves where he was promoted to the rank of Major before leaving the service.

For the past fifteen (15) years, Mr. Crivelli has been certified as a Civil Trial Attorney by the Supreme Court for the State of New Jersey, a certification which less than two percent (2%) of the attorneys in New Jersey have achieved.  He is a graduate of Washington College (B.A.), the City University of New York School of Law (J.D.), the United States Naval Justice School, and the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation.