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COVID-19 Briefing - Tuesday, July 28th

Today’s Recap:

  • We’ve talked about the difficulty of COVID and Flu seasons, but COVID and Hurricane season is another immediate threat. In some Southern states, residents have to balance both risks. 

  • This past weekend, our clients were impacted by at least two large staff parties.  In both cases, the employee who infected the party also worked sick.  It appears COVID fatigue has set in and those employees hadn't filled out wellness checks for the previous two weeks, even though they worked.  A hard (and expensive) lesson as one had to close and the other had to revert to take out and delivery only after excluding more than a dozen who were in close contact.

  • Contact tracing in a workplace is evolving.  After an employee reported close contact (playing games) at a party outside of work and provided a list of 8 names of co-workers she was within six feet of for more than 15 min, pics of the party posted on Facebook and Instagram showed at least 5 more. 

  • We’re hearing that some testing labs in non-hotspot states are being told that their allocation of testing supplies may be reduced and routed to hotspot states.

Best Questions:

Travel restrictions are popping up nationally and really hard to keep track of.  Does the employer need to know where employees vacationed or traveled?

Good question and a challenging one that is probably best referred to your legal advisors.  However, travelers are generally responsible for their own self-quarantine after travel.  It’s a good idea to let employees know that they must check travel restrictions at their destination and upon their return.  And to know that those restrictions may change while they’re traveling or as they return (and that it is unlikely they would be paid for travel quarantines).

I hear the CDC talk about Isolation and also about Quarantine.  What’s the difference between them?

Great question!  Isolation is when a person is either sick with COVID or is asymptomatic and tested positive for COVID and remains separated from others so they don’t also get sick.  They are infectious and must remain at home in isolation for ten days from the onset of their symptoms or the date of their original test (the test date, not the result date).

Quarantine or self-quarantine is when someone has been exposed to COVID and “quarantines” or stays away from others to prevent the spread of disease in case they are incubating it.   The incubation period is between 2 and 14 days and they should remain at home for 14 days. This is sometimes confusing, as they are often used interchangeably.  

Will the health department’s contact tracers reach out to my employee who tested positive?  Should I ask if they spoke with the health department?

States are having a difficult time spooling up robust contact tracing.  The Florida Department of Health told us earlier today they still need more than 400 additional tracers.  So, although every person who tests positive should be receiving a phone call from a contact tracer, that isn’t always happening.  We’re also hearing that contact tracers are frustrated that + patients aren’t taking their calls.

They’ve asked that we all remind employees who test positive that if they see any .gov or DOH identification on their caller ID, they really need to take the call or call back if we’re going to get this COVID surge under control. 

What should I do when an employee calls and tells me they tested positive?

First, you want to verify that.  We’ve had several where the employee actually tested positive for antibodies and not COVID.  And last night we had an urgent care nurse tell an employee they both have COVID and antibodies and needed to quarantine (wrong!).  Go to the app and see the action plan, but basically it says:

  1. Exclude the employee for 10 days from onset or test date if asymptomatic
  2. Identify who worked within six feet for 15+ straight minutes during the exposure period (two days prior to symptoms) and exclude them for 14 days (see contact tracing doc on app)
  3. Clean and sanitize using an EPA-approved COVID product
  4. Use the Talking Points (available in the app) to notify co-workers
  5. Know your local guidelines regarding DOH notification

Best Read: 

South Korea sets the bar for how to use contact tracing effectively and avoid shut downs.

Does Contact Tracing Work? South Korea Proves It Does

Best Laugh:  

With baseball, basketball, hockey and NASCAR coming back (or not), this one truly made us LOL.

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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.