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COVID-19 Daily Briefing - Thursday, 4/16

Today’s Recap:

  • Additional guidance about NY State mandated face coverings for public-facing employees, say that employees may bring their own, but can’t be required to, which means the onus is on employers to provide face coverings in NY. Cloth masks or bandanas are permitted. 
  • Sean Kennedy and the National Restaurant Association have made a strong appeal to Congress to amend PPP to better support restaurants.  You need to contact your congressman today
  • Today’s conversations were very focused on what reopening may look like. We have more questions than answers, but that the dialogue has started is encouraging. The most consistent strategy mentioned has been labeled “ Crawl, Walk, Run.”
  • Data is coming out that increasingly shows a significant infection rate among healthcare workers that is much higher than originally thought.  
  • Johnson & Johnson has begun an expedited vaccination manufacturing process that should help them begin producing a vaccine more quickly when we know what that vaccine should be. GlaxoSmithKline and Sandoz, usually direct competitors, are working together to develop a vaccine.

Your Best Questions of the Day:

An employee’ roommate had symptoms and tested negative. Now their symptoms have ended. Can we reduce the employee’s work exclusion from the full 14 days?

Nope! Again, there’s a very high false negative rate for COVID. Anyone who has symptoms should be treated like they have COVID, regardless of a negative test. The employee has to stay out the full 14 days.

We have thermometers. What are the best practices for where and when and who should take temps? 

This is a tough one. We still think that employers should avoid taking their employees’ temperatures wherever possible, because it can be a real can of worms until we have regulatory guidance on who, where, when and how it should be done. Where possible, have employees take their own temps before arriving to work . That said, if you’re in a jurisdiction that requires it, here’s our best guidance:

  • If possible, take temps outside of the building, so that if someone has a fever, they never even set foot inside the workplace.
  • Make sure the person taking temps has a face mask and disposable gloves, and if possible, some additional face covering like a shield or eye covering. Again, this is tricky because we want medical grade face shields to go to hospitals. 
  • Use a cutoff of 100°F. Even though calibrating can be hard, and many places use 100.2 or 100.4, we recommend going on the conservative side because it’s unlikely that thermometers will all be well-calibrated.  Also some employers are tracking temperatures to exclude an employee with rising temperature (had 99.4 yesterday and 100.0 today). 
  • Remember that you should still be respecting employee privacy AND social distancing. Do these one by one, and if someone does have a fever, send them home discreetly. 

How can we properly implement social distancing at our bar?

It is likely that you’ll need to remove seats so that there’s 6 feet between each stool. Customers may come in together, and can move them closer to each other, but the visual cue of bar seats 6ft apart will serve as a reminder to everyone to keep their distance. Some clients also use masking tape on the floor to mark off six feet, which can help as well. 

How can we properly implement social distancing on a production or kitchen line, where we don’t have enough space to keep workers 6 full feet apart?

We know that 6 feet might not work for many of your spaces. Get creative where possible - can someone prep in the dining area when its not being used? Can you make do with one fewer person on shift so that you can space the stations out more?

Many of our manufacturing clients are using this downtime to re-engineer production lines to allow for more space between workstations and offices may need to do the same.  

If making 6 feet of space isn’t possible, use other best practices. Make handwashing the biggest focus, recommend that employees wear clean cloth face masks where possible, and reiterate that if they come to work when they’re sick, they’re endangering their colleagues and friends, too. 

One great best practice is to try to limit how many people work on different shifts. If you can, keep the same groups together, so that if one person were to get sick and the rest of the line had to self-quarantine, you’re not excluding many different shifts, but just one group that has stuck together. 

We’re seeing good handwashing take much more than 20 seconds. Does that seem right?

Yes. It can take up to 5 minutes to properly take your apron off, go to the hand washing sink, wait our turn, scrub hands for the full 20 seconds, dry them properly, and get back to work. If you’re implementing hand washing at the top and bottom of every hour, like many of our clients, plan to stagger that or build it into your shift scheduling, knowing that it can take up to 5 minutes to be done right. 

Best Read of the Day:

As we enter the phase of quarantine where all the news stories are about getting out of quarantine, it’ll be important for businesses to understand contact tracing. Until we have widespread vaccination and antibody testing, contact tracing will be our most important tool.  Tracking down potentially exposed contacts  and placing them in quarantine once the mass stay-at-home orders start to lift will require a massive expansion of public health teams.

How Contact Tracing Can Help Stop Coronavirus

Best Laugh of the Day:  

Who hasn’t been on a Zoom call today?  We thought Walmart selling more tops than bottoms was our funniest Zoom story, but they keep coming.

Put On A Shirt For Video Hearings, Judge Tells Attorneys

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