Employee Resource Center

Reviewed and updated 1/5/2022

If You Suspect You Are Ill 

Frequently Asked Questions and Possible Scenarios

This information serves as general guidelines and is for informational purposes only. Decisions concerning quarantine and notification can and will be made on a case by case basis considering multiple factors and potential exposures.

All information below is based on current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/isolation.html.

COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms– from no symptoms to severe illness.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the coronavirus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever (100.4°F) or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

What should you do if you have any of these symptoms?

  • If you are at home, STAY HOME.
  • Notify both your supervisor and Infection Control (Celeste Waguespack celeste.waguespack@pbrc.edu) immediately.
  • If you are at work, you may be asked to go home
  • Testing can be done through your Primary Care Provider, through a local urgent care, or ER.
  • Human Resources director and your supervisor (if not already notified) will be notified of the situation.
  • Notification will be important to determine your eligibility for special leave related to your quarantine

You have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms, or someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, now what?

Notify your supervisor and Infection Control (Celeste Waguespack celeste.waguespack@pbrc.edu) immediately.

  • Your exposure will be evaluated based on CDC criteria.
  • If you are confirmed to have COVID-19 or are showing symptoms of COVID-19, you need to isolate regardless of your vaccination status.
    • Stay home and away from others for at least 5 days from the onset of symptoms or from the date of the positive test, if asymptomatic.
    • You should continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public for 5 additional days (day 6 through day 10) after the end of your 5-day isolation period.
    • If you continue to have fever or your other symptoms have not improved after 5 days of isolation, you should wait to end your isolation until you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved.
  • If you’ve come into close contact with someone with COVID-19, you need to quarantine if… 
    • You have not received a recommended booster when eligible 
    • You are not vaccinated or have not completed a primary vaccination series 
  •  If you need to quarantine, you should….
    • Stay home and away from others for at least 5 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
    • For 10 days, watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms.
    • If you develop symptoms, get tested immediately and isolate until you receive results.  If you test positive, follow isolation recommendations.
    • If you test negative, you can leave home but continue wearing a mask.
  •  If you’ve come into close contact with someone with COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine if….
    • You have received all recommended vaccine doses (including boosters)
    • You had confirmed COVID-19 within the last 90 days
  • You should wear a mask around others for 10 days and get tested at least 5 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19.  If you test positive or develop symptoms, you must follow isolation protocols. 

Masking – The mask mandate at Pennington Biomedical will continue.  Strict masking will also be enforced for those interacting with participants and those who have been exposed.  If you need a surgical or N95 mask while at work, these will be available at the Administration front desk. We strongly encourage you to wear a mask in ALL public settings outside of PBRC.

Testing – Anyone who tests positive or has been exposed should reach out to Celeste Waguespack, our Infection Control Officer.  COVID-19 PCR testing is available to employees and their immediate household for those who qualify based on CDC guidance.  Please contact Celeste for further information and a link to the testing form. 

Meetings/Gatherings – As we try to minimize the risk of spreading the virus as much as possible, we will return to the policy of no in-person meetings for the next few weeks. We will continually reassess this policy as things progress.

Infection control will notify the Human Resources director and your supervisor (if not already notified) of the situation.

Someone in the building tested positive for COVID-19.

  • PBRC infection control will contact you should your exposure be deemed high risk in accordance with the CDC and LDH guidelines.
  • While it is important to know if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, privacy laws prevent identifying that individual by name.
  • If you were directly exposed to someone with COVID-19, you may receive a phone call from the Louisiana Department of Health contact tracing.
  • The call will come from the Louisiana Department of Health at this number: 877-766-2130

What steps should you take to avoid spreading COVID-19?

  • Stay home except to get medical care
  • Get rest and stay hydrated
  • Monitor your symptoms and notify your doctor with any worsening symptoms
  • As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets in your home. (If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a cloth face covering.)
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean and disinfect all “high-touch” surfaces daily

Pennington Biomedical is now offering COVID-19 testing to employees.  If you are having COVID-19 symptoms and/or suspect that you have been directly exposed to someone with COVID-19, please contact Infection Control (Celeste Waguespack, Celeste.Waguespack@pbrc.edu) for further details.

With the exponential upsurge in COVID-19 cases continuing due to the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant, I would like to share the following health and safety reminders:

  • Rigorously follow the mask mandate both at the office and in your everyday life.
  • Get vaccinated and encourage those around you to get vaccinated.
  • If you have any cold-like symptoms or you are not feeling well, stay home.
  • If you need information about testing or vaccine locations, call 211 anytime of day 24/7.
  • Do not go to the hospital unless you are extremely ill.  Local hospitals are at capacity and people are waiting a long time for beds.
  • In addition to testing now being available at Pennington Biomedical, most pharmacies, urgent care, and doctors’ offices also provide testing.
  • Updated testing guidance after being exposed is posted on our website.

Additionally, please limit in-person meetings and use Teams or Zoom when possible.

Working Remotely

All employees who are able to conduct the majority of their work tasks from home may elect to do so until September 1, 2021. We will continue to monitor the situation and will notify you ahead of September 1st as to whether this temporary work-from-home period will end or be extended.

Note that work-from-home is not mandatory; employees who choose to report to the Center may continue to do so. Essential employees who maintain critical infrastructure must continue to report. Employees who must quarantine as a result of a positive COVID-19 test or direct exposure who do not wish to take sick leave must work from home. All employees availing themselves of this temporary work-from-home arrangement must adhere to these guidelines:

  • Employee is able to conduct the majority of their work tasks from home
  • Employee is expected to work with their supervisor on coordination of business process communications and reporting requirements
  • Employee maintains appropriate contact with their supervisor during the temporary work-from-home period
  • Employee will take annual or sick leave as appropriate for time not worked during their regular working hours
  • Employee is expected to return to work on campus when the temporary work-from-home period ends, which will be announced by the Executive Director

We are continuing to make progress in our return to campus plan as we adjust our COVID-19 measures in consideration of current CDC guidance and the Governor’s recent executive order.

Return to Pennington Plan

The following changes were implemented at the Center effective May 19:


  • Temperature screenings for all employees will be suspended.
  • We will continue to screen research participants and visitors.


  • As per the Governor's executive order, masks should continue to be worn in health care settings by both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
  • For the time being, we will continue to require that masks be worn by all employees and visitors on the Pennington campus.
  • We will be evaluating the need for masking on a continuing basis.


  • Meeting room capacities will be revised to 75% of the pre-COVID capacity.

Employees who have not already done so, should begin planning their transition to fully return to campus by July 1, 2021.

All classified employees and hourly employees must still log in to Workday to submit time in order to be paid. Supervisors of these employees must approve time for classified and hourly employees through Workday.

Any further questions should be directed to your supervisors or to can be directed to the human resources department at hrm@pbrc.edu or 225-763-2776.

Thank you for your flexibility and continued cooperation during these rapidly changing and uncertain times.

News, Updates & Resources

Featured News Stories


CDC Removes Mask and Social Distancing Recommendations for Individuals Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19
May 14, 2021

Daily life is returning to normal for those who have been fully vaccinated as the Centers for Disease Control updates its recommendations regarding mask wearing and social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19.   Exceptions are still in place for health care settings and other situations mandated by local governmental health authorities.  

 "Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic,"  CDC website,  5/14/2021.

Read more here

Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Now Available to All Louisiana Residents Ages 12 and Above
May 13, 2021

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced today that Louisianans ages 12 and up can now receive the COVID-19 vaccine.  The recommendation follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention actions on Wednesday and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization earlier this week. 

If you haven't been vaccinated yet, you can locate sites in Louisiana at the Department of Health website covidvaccine.la.gov or call 1-855-453-0774 to schedule a vaccine appointment.

Read more here

Governor Edwards Lifts Mask Mandate in Louisiana as more than 1 in 4 people in the state are vaccinated against COVID-19

April 28, 2021

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced today that some mitigation measures will be eased and, starting Wednesday, April 28, the statewide mask mandate will be lifted. Mask policies in Louisiana will be set by local leaders and business owners. Read more specifics here.

New guidance from the CDC today also highlights the protective strength of vaccination as the group loosens mask-wearing requirements for fully vaccinated individuals in outdoor settings across the country. Most outdoor and many small indoor events, such as restaurant dining, can now be attended safely by vaccinated individuals without wearing a mask. CDC safety specifics on mask requirements are available here

If you haven't been vaccinated yet, you can locate sites in Louisiana at the Department of Health website covidvaccine.la.gov or call 1-855-453-0774 to schedule a vaccine appointment. 

Updated Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions
MedWatch - The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program

April 14, 2021

The FDA and CDC are reviewing data involving six cases reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) of a low level of platelets in the blood in combination with a rare and severe type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) in individuals who had received the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine. One individual died. All cases occurred in females ranging in age from 18 through 48 years. In some of the reported cases of CVST, blood clots also involved large veins in the abdomen.

Out of an abundance of caution, the FDA and CDC are recommending a pause in the use of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine while the FDA and CDC, including through its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices investigate these reports of serious adverse events.

Read more here including who is at risk for adverse events and what should health care providers look for in evaluating Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine recipients for the rare adverse events.


New Community Vaccine Opportunity

February 1,  2021

Woman’s Hospital, in partnership with the Baton Rouge Clinic, has set up a vaccine distribution clinic at the Baton Rouge Clinic for currently eligible people based on Louisiana Department of Health criteria. To review current eligibility requirements and to take advantage of this opportunity, please go to this website to sign up: https://www.womans.org/about-womans/community/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine-request. Someone will then reach out to you to make an appointment. Pennington Biomedical is not affiliated with this clinic and all questions about this  opportunity should be directed to Woman’s Hospital or the Baton Rouge Clinic.

Study to Tackle Barriers to COVID-19 Testing in Black Communities

November 30, 2020

Strategies to increase COVID-19 testing in underserved black communities, to be studied by Pennington Biomedical scientists via a federal grant announced today, will also help shape COVID-19 vaccine and treatment distribution plans to citizens living in the vulnerable, high-risk neighborhoods. 

Read more here

Global health study shows COVID-19 lockdown reduced mental health, sleep, exercise

October 23, 2020

A first-of-its-kind global survey shows the initial phase of the COVID-19 lockdown dramatically altered our personal habits, largely for the worse.

Read more here

Updated Guidance on the Definition of a Close Contact

Under prior guidance, the CDC defined a close contact as someone who spent at least 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of an infected person, thus putting the individual at higher risk of contracting the virus. The CDC updated its guidance to define a close contact as: Someone who was within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from two days before symptom onset or two days before a positive test for COVID-19 until the time the infected person can leave isolation.

Read more here

Employee News & Updates

Employee Resources

3 Reasons Why Wearing a Face Mask in Public is a Good Idea

The Centers for Disease Control now recommends that everyone wear a facemask in public.  You can get more details about the CDC mask recommendation on their website.

  1. Not only is wearing a mask in public a good way to help reduce infection spread by those who are sick with COVID-19, with or without symptoms, it could also help healthy individuals avoid high viral dose exposures.
  2. Wearing a mask may help you break the habit of touching your nose or mouth, where virus transmission can occur.
  3. Wearing a mask in public is a way that Pennington Biomedical employees show our belief and resolve to promote public health behaviors that protect all our citizens, especially those with chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Post your mask picture on Facebook or Twitter, Tag @PBRCNews, and we will retweet and share your handiwork!

Don’t have a mask yet? The CDC has you covered with this video tutorial.

Preventive Steps Pennington Biomedical Is Taking

Pennington Biomedical has also added seventeen (17) touchless hand sanitizers throughout the Center that are wall-mounted in immediate proximity to many elevators on campus. Dispensers are filled with a gel that is at least 70% alcohol, as recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Twenty (20) additional freestanding hand sanitizing stations have been placed across campus.

Custodial services support staff are cleaning all bathrooms in the Center every night of the week. They have also increased their frequency of cleaning commonly touched surfaces such as stairwell banisters.

  • If you notice any issues with bathroom cleanliness, or soap dispensers not being filled, please email or call the Facilities department so we can monitor our support services staff procedures.

We strongly discourage any non-essential meetings or events of 25 people or more.


Travel Restrictions – Key Take-Aways


As of 4/1/2021, there is no restriction on personal travel.  There are also no restrictions on Domestic travel, but ALL travel is at the employee's own risk.  The center will not pay for quarantine costs, COVID tests, or any other COVID-related expenses related to an essential Business Trip.

All approved Pennington Biomedical Research Center-related international travel must be re-approved through the High-Risk Travel process.

All NON-ESSENTIAL international travel is prohibited until further notice.   Form Temp2 needs to be completed and attached to a spend authorization. 

  • Questions about international travel should be directed to Monica Mougeot in Fiscal Operations (monica.mougeot@pbrc.edu) and travelers should work with their coordinators and/or business managers to recoup expenses for canceled trips.
  • If you are currently abroad on Center-sponsored business and the area is elevated in status, you may be required to return to the U.S.
  • Anyone who returns or arrives at Pennington Biomedical from a location with a CDC level 3 travel warning for COVID-19 (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html), must self-isolate for 14 days and must be asymptomatic before returning to work
  • We strongly recommend against travel to cities and countries where the COVID-19 outbreak is spreading.
  • If you do travel to countries with a Level 3 or 4 travel advisory, you can only return to Pennington Biomedical, a university campus, facility or activity after 14 days from the date of departure from that country and if you have no symptoms.
  • You should also make every attempt to return with enough lead time to self-isolate prior to when your Center responsibilities begin.

Travel Restrictions – Full Details

International Travel Restrictions due to COVID-19 Outbreak

The number one priority of Pennington Biomedical is the health and welfare of its faculty, postdocs, staff and students. With this in mind, we continue to work closely with local, state and federal health officials to monitor developments related to the Novel Coronavirus, known as COVID-19. After careful consideration, and with the health of our academic community top of mind, effective immediately we are restricting international travel of all personnel. Anyone traveling or planning to travel outside the United States for Center business or academic purposes, including research or grant activity, service projects, internships, conferences, presentations, teaching or training, should be aware of the restrictions outlined in this memo.

Center Sponsored and Sanctioned Travel

International Travel is restricted for nonessential travel.  If a traveler contracts COVID while on a business trip, we will only pay for the business days of travel and no COVID-related expenses.  

Pennington Biomedical employees who have previously been approved for any international travel, or who plan to travel prior to August 17, 2020, must have travel re-approved through the High-Risk Travel process. Travel to countries with Level 3 or Level 4 travel advisories will not be approved. At this point, travel to other countries will be approved, but it’s important to keep in mind the global scenario is rapidly evolving and therefore may result in a change in approval status. It’s also possible that domestic cities may introduce heightened travel advisories. All university-sponsored travel must be approved via a Spend Authorization prior to departure or the Center will not be responsible for the reimbursement of expenses. Questions about international travel should be directed to Monica Mougeot in Fiscal Operations (monica.mougeot@pbrc.edu), and travelers should work with their coordinators and/or business managers to recoup expenses for canceled trips.

If you are currently abroad on Center-sponsored business, you should be aware of the travel status in your area and any accompanying travel advisories. Should the area be elevated in status, you will be required to return to the U.S. For further travel information if this situation arises, contact Monica Mougeot (monica.mougeot@pbrc.edu). Employees who are returning from any country or region that has been designated with Level 3 or 4 travel advisories are prohibited from returning to Pennington and any and all university campuses, facilities, and activities during a 14-day period from the date of departure from that country, and not return to the Center unless they are asymptomatic for that period. As required by the Presidential Directive addendum to PM 13, employees and students must present a release to return to work from their personal physician.

If you have returned from an area where COVID-19 is spreading, you should monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days and take your temperature twice a day. If you develop even a mild cough or low-grade fever (i.e., a temperature of 100⁰ F or more), please stay home and self-isolate. This means avoiding close contact (six feet or nearer) with other people, including family members. We also advise contacting your health care provider or the local public health department and giving them details of your recent travel and symptoms.

There are no restrictions on Domestic travel, but ALL travel is at the employee's own risk.  The center will not pay for quarantine costs, COVID tests, or any other COVID-related expenses related to an essential Business Trip.

Personal Travel

As of April 1st, 2021, there are no restrictions on personal travel. 


Using the PBRC Remote Desktop Environment

In order to facilitate the ability of employees to work remotely, Computing Services has made adjustments to scale our server hardware to meet the growing needs of remote workers. We have also created a resource page with information about setting up your remote workspace, using remote resources, and connecting and collaborating effectively. The page can be found at www.pbrc.edu/coronavirus/remote.

Please remember that PBRC’s Remote Desktop Environment (remote.pbrc.edu) is a limited resource and should be used only if accessing services which are only available onsite at PBRC. Once you’ve completed your work within remote, make sure to click the orange log off icon on your desktop, doing so will free up resources allowing others to connect.

If you have any technical issues or questions please contact the PBRC Help Desk at helpdesk@pbrc.edu or 225-763-2586.