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COVID-19 Daily Briefing - Thursday, May 7th

Some clarifications from the CDC on reporting positives, temperatures, and our recommendation on travel (hint: don't).

Today’s Recap:

  • New issues related to masks are a major topic of the day today including: Difficulty hearing when someone is speaking through a mask which can create work safety issues and lead to guest dissatisfaction, Guests or clients breaking social distancing and moving within six feet to better hear, Inability to lip read (for hearing impaired employees and customers)
  • Finally got  requested clarification from the CDC regarding reporting (or not reporting) COVID positives to local and state health departments.  Dr. Butler, on the CDC Private Sector update on Monday, incorrectly stated a requirement to report positives to health departments.  Here’s what they told us (in writing): “In the United States, the authority to require notification of cases of disease resides in the respective state legislatures.  In general, businesses are strongly encouraged to coordinate with state and local health officials so timely and accurate information can guide appropriate responses.”    We do not recommend reporting COVID positives at this time. 
  • Today the CDC walked back on its change of the temperature threshold to 100.0 from 100.4F.  We’re sticking to the 100.0°F for the moment to make sure they don’t change their minds again. Dr. Nichols told us "A positive test for a fever, and the way we are defining a fever is a temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or 38 Celsius, is just one way to potentially identify a symptomatic employee."  But their written guidance continues to say 100.4°F.
  • While pressure to resume some business travel grows as states reopen, we do NOT think your people should be traveling unless it is absolutely critical to the business’ ability to open or remain open. There is confusion over restaurants and other businesses being designated essential services vs the use of the word “essential “ with regard to CDC travel guidance.  The CDC isn’t saying normal business travel is ok for those in essential services.  We do not think you should be returning to business travel as usual in states that are opening back up, and it should be severely limited to what is absolutely minimally critical for the business to operate at this time.  

Best Questions of the Day: 

An employee was excluded for 7 days awaiting COVID test results.  We now know she was tested because she had pinkeye.  Test has now come back negative.  Can she return to work?

Yes - she can.  We are finding that tests are available and employees are being tested for a variety of reasons (or no reason…).  We are still excluding employees who are awaiting results as many tests have come back positive. But once the test comes back negative, if they are not symptomatic with the main COVID symptoms (fever, new cough or shortness of breath), they generally can return to work.

As we start to reopen dining rooms and call employees back to work, some are hesitant and some parents are especially concerned about allowing their kids to return to work.  How do we best address this?

Obviously, this is a very personal decision within each family and parents need to make decisions that are right for their kids based on their family’s own risk assessment. Some is fear based on misinformation and some is based on first hand COVID experience.  It’s important to communicate all the key steps you’ve taken and will continue to take to ensure everyone is healthy (including your customers), to keep your facilities’ sparkling and how you’ll respond if illness occurs going forward.  

Opening requirements for all types of businesses and work settings specify additional hand sanitizer.  We’re having a hard time getting dispensers and hand sanitizer.  What should we be looking for in alternative suppliers and products?

Unlike disinfecting sanitizers, there is no EPA approved list of acceptable products for hand sanitizers. Hand sanitizer must have at least 60% alcohol. 70% is better.  There are some new providers, new products and alternative products being introduced as hand sanitizers.  Be sure to do your research before buying any products that aren’t recognized brand names. 

An employee can now return to work ten days after a positive test but may still have some lingering symptoms (like a cough).  Is that ok?

Basically, yes they can return to work. The newest studies clearly show that someone is no longer transmitting the virus ten days after onset of symptoms as long as they are fever free without fever reducing medication for three days.  We’re seeing the cough linger for weeks, or even longer. This might make some guests or employees uncomfortable, but clinically, it’s perfectly fine for someone to return to work after 10 days if they meet the other criteria for return to work, even if their cough or loss of taste/smell continues, for example. 

Best Read of the Day:

We keep hearing concerns about coronavirus mutating. Here’s a good take on understanding why that isn’t a huge concern right now.

Beware Overblown Claims of Coronavirus Strains

Best Watch of the Day:

Although the entire video is worth watching, if you fast forward to the 1 min mark, you’ll  meet Aaron Roarx, son of Britt Roarx from Texas Roadhouse.  Sorry we never got to show you NYC, Aaron, but we’re so grateful to you and your friends and owe you a tour when you get back here.

USNS Comfort returns to Norfolk after treating patients in NY

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