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COVID-19 Daily Briefing - Friday, 4/10

Today’s Recap

-The CDC issued Interim Guidance for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure which raised more questions than it resolved.  We’re now waiting 18 hours for responses to our specific questions which mainly focused on the discrepancies between the presentation, the online guidance and the printable version. Most of you opted to continue to exclude exposed employees for 14 days for the following reasons:

  • Employees don’t have thermometers at home
  • You don’t have enough thermometers
  • Having employees who were exposed wear masks for 14 days identifies them in a negative (and potentially non-ADA/HIPAA compliant) way
  • Less than 20% of current exclusions are for exposure to a suspected or confirmed case
  • The current 14 day exclusion seems to be effective
  • Managing employee fear remains key, and having exposed employees come back to work sooner when we previously identified it as a risk may cause more fear

-The FDA shared new best practices for retail and foodservice. A lot that you’re already doing, but helpful guidance specific to safe food handling in takeout and delivery models.

-While New York had its deadliest day, there’s optimism the curve has begun to flatten while the White House indicated that Baltimore and Philadelphia may be the next hotspots.

-We’re still seeing employees traveling (apparently there are some very cheap airfares).  Many jurisdictions are requiring a 14 day exclusion which is a best practice.

-Managers working sick and not practicing social distancing (by meeting with each other in their offices) both presented challenges for many of you 

Best Questions of the Day:

A few of our managers met in their office… and then one got sick.  Do we have to exclude all three?

Yes, if they were in the small manager's office within 6 feet for 30 mins or more. This raises the question: why do we have three managers on site at once, and why are they in a tight space together. Managers need to be leading by example - practicing social distancing, staying home when sick or exposed, and making smart decisions. 

Should we be ordering thermometers?

If you have access to a supply source that’s not wildly overpriced, the short answer is yes. While we don’t recommend having employers take employee temperatures for a number of reasons (protecting the person taking the temps, calibrating thermometers, not having a set cutoff temp recommended by the CDC, temperatures being only one possible symptom and leading to a false sense of security, etc.), we do think there’s a chance that this will become the new normal. The CDC’s newest guidance, as of Wednesday night, for exposed employees is incredibly vague on whether employers or employees should be taking temperatures. We also think it might be a requirement of re-opening after a COVID-related closure or even just for general dining room reopenings. 

An employee’s parent died of COVID-19. They aren’t symptomatic. How long should we exclude them?

If the employee had any contact as their parent was sick, they should be excluded for 14 days from the last time that they had any contact with the person who was sick. It’s also a good idea to have your HR team reach out to share employee resources, EAPs, or just to offer condolences. The human element can get lost when we’re seeing the volume of exclusions that many of us are seeing, but a little support goes a long way and can help better prepare folks for returning to work. 

What should we be doing when we see a cluster of confirmed or suspected cases in one location?

You may want to start by taking a closer look at the exclusions and discussing them with local management.  Are there some that may be more fear-based?  Take a good look at the health practices being followed at the location.  Have they sanitized well? Are they doing wellness checks? Are there employees who live together in houses or apartments where they may be more likely to be infecting one another?  There may be times when closing for a day or several days may be the safest option.  But there are other times when a closer look doesn’t confirm a problem.

Best Read of the Day:

We’re concerned that many pediatric practices are not doing well visits, that parents are afraid to bring children in for vaccinations and we’re in an industry that saw its first cases of Measles and Mumps last year.  This article re:vaccinations totally stopping in other parts of the world gives us pause, especially now when Dr. Anthony Fauci has mentioned a COVID-19 vaccine may need to be mandatory.

Why Measles Deaths are Surging and COVID-19 Could Make it Worse

Best Entertainment of the Day:

Stephen King is Sorry You Feel Like You’re Stuck Inside a Stephen King Novel

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