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COVID-19 Briefing - 6/6

Our twice-weekly briefing covers CDC updates to symptoms, second-hand exclusions, and more.

Today’s Recap:

  • The CDC  again told us earlier today that they’ve been getting questions for several weeks now (from us and others) on whether or not Wellness Checks should be updated and will have additional guidance for us on that within a few days.  The current guidance from the CDC now lists the symptoms as follows, and they state: “This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19”    
  1. Fever or chills
  2. Cough
  3. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  4. Fatigue
  5. Muscle or body aches
  6. Headache
  7. New loss of taste or smell
  8. Sore throat
  9. Congestion or runny nose
  10. Nausea or vomiting
  11. Diarrhea

  • We’re seeing hot spots pop up across states that have reopened and employees engaged in socializing resulting in exposures and positives.  Your hotspots today are:  Valdosta, GA, Stafford, TX,  suburbs of Denver and most of Iowa.

  • McDonald’s workers in the Bay Area filed a complaint with the state’s labor watchdog agency alleging that MacDonald’s reopening guidelines don’t specify quarantine period or paid time off for exposure to asymptomatic coworkers. Several of our clients are reporting similar employee complaints using similar wording.

Best Questions of the Day:

If the clerk in the convenience store where an employee buys morning coffee tests positive, should the employee be excluded?  

Well, this was the question of the day.  We probably answered it ten times before 10:00 this morning.  The answer is No.  Close contact is now fairly uniformly defined as within 6 ft for 15 minutes or more which excludes most retail transactions.

A symptomatic person with COVID-19 can return to work 10 days from symptom onset if they are fever free for 3 consecutive days without fever-reducing medication... If they have other symptoms such as congestion, slight cough or shortness of breath would you still eliminate them until these symptoms subside?

Yes, we would suggest keeping these employees out of work until visible symptoms subside. Although research shows that  that the viral load is reduced enough by ten days to be no longer transmissible, there are the optics for coworkers and customers. No one wants to be working next to or served by anyone coughing, sneezing or short of breath these days.

What happens when the employee tells the contact tracer a different date of the last day worked than your records, or lists different coworkers that they had close contact with. 

It’s ok to say, ‘I have different information’ or ask to call back once you’ve verified your records… but it’s not ok to verify incorrect information or give them wrong information.  In our experience, that may trigger an involuntary closure of your business. 

What’s the number of positive tests where we should consider closing a restaurant, office or facility?

There is no specific answer to that (and sometimes that ends up being in the health department’s hands).  While a single positive that results in excluding large numbers of employees who came in close contact (within 6 ft for >15 min) may force a closure, at other times six or more positives may be spread out, have limited exclusions and the workplace may remain open.  Chat with us through the app and we can help you make good decisions surrounding closure. 

What are the most important things to do when I find out I have an employee who has tested positive?

  • Identify who worked within six feet for 15 minutes or more on the day they became sick + the two days prior, or if asymptomatic use the test date rather than the last day worked - and exclude them for 14 days.  Make sure anyone who lives with the employee, socializes with them, is an intimate partner, or commutes with them is excluded.
  • Use the COVID Sanitizing Punch List and start cleaning and sanitizing.
  • Notify all employees that a coworker has tested positive.  Sample talking points are in the toolkit on our app.  Be sure not to identify the sick employee.  And strongly suggest that you reinforce that these are talking points.  Don’t email, text, write a memo… or it will end up on social media.

Best Listen of the Day:

If you can find the time, this podcast from Mike Osterholm at University of MN on on how we came to masks for all and the lack of scientific data supporting it is... fascinating, terrifying, sums up how little we really know about COVID and how we’re making critical decisions about how to proceed without studies, articles and experts being properly vetted.   

Special Episode: Masks and Science | CIDRAP

If you don’t have the time to listen and want to quickly scan the transcript, you can find it here: CIDRAP Podcast Transcript

And for your history lesson of the day:

And since we’re talking about masks

In 1919, the Mayor of Oakland Was Arrested for Failing to Wear a Mask

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