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COVID-19 Briefing - 9/11

Responding to the CDC's restaurant study, how to conduct guest temperature checks, and more...

Today’s Recap

  • This week’s Morbidity and Mortality Report includes an FDA study that says community-spread COVID cases were 2x more likely to report dining out within the prior 14 days. There was no direct causation, however, and those who eat out may be more likely to shop and socialize more while not masking or social distancing. The National Restaurant Association has put out a comprehensive rebuttal to this study, and we think it does a great job of explaining why this isn't much of a revelation. Check it out here.
  • That same report confirms that kids do catch and spread Coronavirus. In two childcare facilities in Utah, transmission was observed from two of three children with confirmed, asymptomatic COVID-19.
  • A study of coronavirus survivors in Italy showed that half of them reported long-term effects of the infection.
  • Faced with an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases, France faces the prospect of another nationwide lockdown.  And England is limiting social gatherings to 6 people or fewer starting Monday. Good reminders that we are nowhere near out of the woods yet. 
  • OSHA fined a meat processing plant for failure to protect workers from coronavirus infection after widespread transmission, leading to over 1000 cases and 4 deaths.
  • Information still varies about food as a COVID transmission source. CNN reported that it is highly unlikely that food is a source of COVID-19 contamination, but meanwhile a study out of China reports that coronavirus can live on foods like salmon for a week. 
  • And other illnesses still exist!  LSU was awarded a $1.5 million grant for Norovirus research, in part funded by NASA.  This is the first major new Noro research in some time and it’s focused on understanding how oyster beds transmit Norovirus.
  • The coronavirus may have reached LA by Christmas, according to a new report.

Best Questions

Guests are asking questions about today’s news story about someone with COVID more likely to have eaten out in the last 14 days.  What’s the best way to address that?

A few things. First, correlation doesn’t equal causation. People diagnosed with COVID-19 in this study also dined out. There’s not clear evidence that any of them actually contracted coronavirus when they dined out, as opposed to at any other community location.

The study was also very small, with only 154 COVID cases. Results from any study with such a low number of participants should be taken with a grain of salt. 

Plus, far more folks in this study contracted the coronavirus from close contact with friends and family (42%), versus only 14% who contracted it from an unknown source in their community. When looking at these 22 people, they were more likely to have gone to a restaurant than others in the study. But they may also have been more likely to spend more time doing lots of other things out and about in their communities.

If a guest refuses to wear a mask on constitutional grounds or due to disability, can I deny them entry to my business? 

Although we aren’t attorneys, we believe the answer is yes, you can. Angelo Amador, Executive Director of the Restaurant Law Center, answered some questions in a recent webinar about this issue. Despite a false narrative that’s going around about choosing to wear a mask as a constitutional right, he said, those don’t actually apply to private businesses. 

And while there may be guests with a legitimate disability that prevents them from wearing a mask, that doesn’t mean that you have to allow them to enter your business, especially indoors, if it would impede your ability to safely provide goods and services to others. 

Instead, offer a reasonable alternative - like ordering online or by phone and bringing their order outside to place it in their car.  

Run your policy by your counsel before finalizing. 

My child's class was sent home because of contact with someone who is now sick.  Can I still come to work?

If your child doesn’t have any symptoms (and hasn’t tested positive), you’re cleared to continue coming to work. This falls under what we’re calling “second-hand exposure” and, realistically, most people in the country would have to stay at some point if we kept everyone out for being exposed to someone who was exposed to someone with COVID. If your child develops symptoms or tests positive, then you’d need to stay home due to direct exposure. 

Our jurisdiction is requiring guest temperature checks. How should we go about that? 

See ZHH and Zedic’s Guest Temperature Check SOPs here.

We always recommend having employees and guests take their own temperature with a forehead thermometer you provide, then reporting or showing that temp to the person responsible for managing the temp check station, because it limits the amount of contact that employee has with folks who may be sick. Sanitize the heck out of the thermometer, table, partition, etc. And focus on great signage that makes the process clear before guests arrive. 

What if a guest or employee says they failed the temp check because they are just hot due to outside temperature, recently exerting themselves, etc.?

Invite them to sit in the shade outside of the building or 6ft apart and masked if indoors. If possible, offer them cold water. Wait 10 minutes and conduct another temperature check. If it’s still above the threshold, politely ask them to head home. 

We’re still struggling with when something is a 10 vs. 14 vs. 24 day exclusion. Help?

10 day exclusions are for when a person has COVID-like symptoms or confirmed COVID. 14+ day exclusions are for when someone has no symptoms themselves, but has been exposed to someone with COVID. A 14 day exclusion must start on the date that someone had their most recent exposure to someone with COVID. So if that exposure re-occurs or is ongoing, the date resets, to a maximum of 24 days from the sick person’s symptom onset. 

  • If Grandma has COVID, who you visited on 9/1 while infectious, then you’re out until 9/15. 
  • If you go back to see grandma again on 9/5, then you’re out for 14 days from that date. 
  • If you live with grandma, and you can self-isolate from her, you’re out for 14 days from the last date you had contact with her (usually the date she found out she was sick).
  • If you live with grandma and actively care for her by feeding her, bathing her, etc. then you can’t self-isolate from her, so you’re out for 24 days from the date her symptoms started. (10 days for her to get better, then 14 days to ensure you don’t contract the virus yourself). 

Best Read: 

The Rockefeller Foundation has focused their resources and funding on development of an effective testing strategy and released a major report that says we need to get to 200 million tests per month.  Projections are we’ll be to 70 million tests per month by October.  Their plan provides a clear and feasible road map.  

A National Decision Point: Effective Testing & Screening for COVID-19

 Best Laugh:

This week you (and we) were plagued by return to school illness issues.  And many of you sent kids back to school for them to quickly revert to remote learning.

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Disclaimer: This post is meant for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute, and is not intended as, any form of medical, legal or regulatory advice or a recommendation or suggestion regarding the same.  No recipient of this information should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.