When to call in sick during a hard flu season

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the flu is widespread in 46 states, and some employers in East Tennessee said they have felt the effects.

General Manager of Calhoun's restaurant Mark Chase said he's had a more difficult time filling out schedules than in years past, but he said he doesn't take any chances when it comes to employees being sick.

"If you are sick and running a fever stay home," Chase said. "If someone walks in and it's noticeable, they go home. I don't want them here. I protect the team and the guests."

President of Hoffmann Group, the largest tool supplier in Europe, Charlie Slagle, said there's a big difference in being actually sick and just not feeling well, but he said he trusts his employees to call in when they really need to. Slagle explained Hoffmann Group's sick policy is one he wishes other businesses would adopt.

"We don't have sick days. We don't want people coming in because they've used up their sick days. For us, it's better if an employee stays home a week to get well from the flu because my chances of infecting other employees are much less. Employers need to look at their sick leave policy to not entice people to come in when they really shouldn't be here," Slagle said.

Health experts said most of the country is in the middle of a hard flu season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the country has been hit with four times as many cases as this time last year.

According to the CDC, thirteen children across the U.S. have already died of the flu this season. Children younger than 5 are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications — and babies under the age of 2, even more so.

The CDC also recommended the following tips to keep you and your family safe from the flu:

• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible.
• If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
• Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.