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COVID-19 Daily Briefing - Thursday, 4/9

CDC issues new exclusion guidelines for essential workers, and more

Today’s Recap

  • The CDC issued new guidance on Wednesday night that allows essential workers to get back to work sooner who have been or may have been exposed to COVID-19. Many of our clients are choosing to continue with the full 14 day exclusion to be on the safe side, and because this guidance may be aimed at hospital workers and police, where 14 day exclusions might exclude a large percentage of the work force. Other factors for folks who are holding off on adopting this guidance include lack of clarity surrounding the actual recommendations for things like taking temperatures, unavailability of thermometers at home and work, and concern around privacy and identifying employees who have been exposed by their wearing mask or having additional precautions. Stay tuned for more info on this in tomorrow's daily update as we get clarity from the CDC and continue to discuss these issues with clients and experts.

  • Many states are issuing new workplace guidelines and rules,  like these from CT and these from NJ. It’s incredibly important that managers are regularly seeking out the guidance or regulations in their state and local jurisdictions, because there is no easy way to track these across the nation. City, county, and state laws are changing almost weekly, and it’s important to stay up to date. If you hear of any new regulations impacting you, let us know at and we’ll do our best to share, but tracking these real-time at a national level is nearly impossible. 

  • Arizona passed a law allowing restaurants to repackage grocery items and other supplies. Many other restaurants are doing this in other states, but AZ is the newest state making it official.   

  • Don Schaffner has a PhD in Food Science, and he says it’s safe to order take out! Feel free to share this widely.

  • Although we’d really like to hear that the warm weather will help us out of this mess, experts are increasingly saying it is unlikely for weather to be a factor that slows the spread of COVID-19.   Experts: COVID-19 pandemic unlikely to ebb as weather warms

  • A silver lining (maybe): Since there are now basically no new claims for things like slips and falls coming in, many of you are using this time to settle existing claims.  One large organization today reported half of all open claims have been resolved amicably in the last three weeks.

  • There is an industry group working very closely with the National Restaurant Association to challenge business interruption insurance claims denials.  They’ve already taken aggressive legal action. Stay tuned for more on that one.

Best Questions of the Day

What should we plan to invest in long-term? Hand sanitizer, symptom surveys, masks, infrared thermometers?

We do expect that daily wellness checks are here to stay. Whether that includes temps is still up in the air, but masks and gloves may very well be more widespread. Hand sanitizer readily available for customers as well as staff will definitely continue to be a trend however there is a question below which addresses the shortages of all of these items. When asked earlier today, should we buy thermometers in case they’re required later (vs to be used now), our answer was yes. 

How long can we expect there to be shortages of these items?

We wish we knew the answer to these questions.  Many thermometer and mask suppliers are back ordered at least 30-60 days.  The hand sanitizer situation is a bit more complicated - there are shortages of everything from the chemicals needed to manufacture sanitizer to the plastics needed to bottle it.  While the largest manufacturers (like GoJo/Purell) are in better shape, others may take a year or more for supply to match demand.

An employee with a history of allergies has a new cough.  Do we need to exclude him/her?

Short answer: Yes.  Longer answer: Any new cough is a source of concern right now.  While COVID may have no symptoms, mild symptoms, a fever or no fever, it often has a cough.  Differentiating between an allergy cough and COVID isn’t easy and someone could have allergies and COVID.  While we aren’t suggesting sending anyone to a doctor right now who doesn’t need medical attention, having an employee contact their allergist or PCP by phone or email may be helpful..  In the interim, the employee should be excluded from work for a minimum of 7 days (act as if its COVID) until you get add’l info or documentation.

How do you decide when you need to close a location, office or restaurant?

There is no definitive answer to this question.  The CDC’s Risk Assessment is an important tool in that decision.  While some clients have closed for 24 hours for a single confirmed case (to conduct the risk assessment, sanitize, exclude close contacts and then ready for re-opening), most are able to safely remain open.  However, when there are several ill employees, the decision to close temporarily (7 to 14 days)  may be the best one.  We’re here to help you as you make these kinds of difficult decisions. 

Best Read of the Day

We are living with a lot of fear – from employees to CEOs… This is a good article that addresses leading through and with fear:

Dealing with the Two Fronts of Every Crisis

Best Laugh of the Day  -

True story - the answer to a question on tonight’s Jeopardy which was filmed back on February 3rd  and scheduled for airing today: Pandemic

'Jeopardy!' Pandemic Answer Freaks Out Viewers

Recently in an interview, Brene Brown talked about how weary we’re all starting to feel. As she usually does, she hit the nail on the head.  Get some rest.  This is a marathon and not a sprint.

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