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COVID-19 Daily Briefing - Tuesday, 4/21

Why we might never get a good coronavirus vaccine, and more

Today’s Recap:

  • Calls to Poison Control Centers about cleaners and disinfectant exposures are up by 20% according to this week’s MMWR.  Bleach, non-alcohol disinfectants and hand sanitizers were the primary sources for exposure. One child who drank hand sanitizers

  • There are increasing concerns regarding clusters of COVID in facilities vital to the food chain - especially in meat and poultry plants.  The CDC confirmed there are clusters in plants in 17 states. 

  • Several clients are reporting increasing shortages of hand sanitizers and hand soap.

  • There are several states or jurisdictions that are requiring that hand sanitizer is available for employees and/or customers.  This could be a serious roadblock to reopening as supply remains extremely limited and backorders get pushed further out.

  • The WHO reports average onset time for exposure remains between 4 and 6 days

  • The CDC released new guidelines for “Opening America” today. There’s a lot there, but the key takeaways are that infection needs to be reduced and controlled, testing & lab capacity need to be ramped up, and public health officials need to be able to do contact tracing to reduce community spread. We’re still a long way off from all of that in many places. 

  • Join us on Wednesday for a free webinar (led by me) in partnership with the National Restaurant Association and Gojo/Purell, regarding lessons learned from COVID-19, Hep A, and Noro.  Register here. 

Best Questions of the Day:

Should we continue to allow our delivery services to use their own warming bags?

This is a question that has come up repeatedly.  All of the delivery services have sent out good  information about their sanitizing practices and general COVID-19 precautions.  And today, the CDC provided them with some updated guidance. What Food and Grocery Pick-up and Delivery Drivers Need to Know about COVID-19.  To the best of our knowledge, our clients have not requested they discontinue use of their delivery equipment like warming bags, backpacks, etc. 

If an employee’s spouse is ill and being tested for COVID-19, should the employee be excluded from work?

Yes.  Anyone who is living with someone who is symptomatic (and especially ill enough to meet testing requirements), should be excluded from work.  Our current recommendation is to exclude for fourteen days.

We have an employee who quarantined for 14 days, but her sick family member still has a cough. Does she need to stay out another 14 days? 

Unfortunately, yes. Employees should stay out of work for 14 days from their most recent exposure. If a family member is still showing symptoms, or another family member gets sick, their 14 day count starts over again. 

Employees are reporting difficulty getting tested.  Do we consider someone as positive if testing isn’t available?

The CDC guidance is that if testing is not available and the person is symptomatic, assume and act as if it is COVID-19; particularly since flu activity has dropped off significantly. 

How long should an asymptomatic employee who tests positive be excluded from work?

Unfortunately, the answer is - we still don’t really know.  The CDC’s guidance is to re-test if possible beginning 7 days after the first test and to keep the employee out of work until they have two negative tests. Dr. Butler called this the million dollar question and acknowledged not knowing the answer to this is extremely challenging to us all. 

Best Read of the Day:

It appears that a coronavirus vaccine might  be harder to make than anyone thought.  So focusing on testing for COVID and antibodies may be even more important.

We Might Never Get a Good Coronavirus Vaccine

Best Laugh of the Day:

Vulture got writers from 30+ of our favorite past TV shows to imagine what it would look like if COVID happened in the show. 30 Rock and Elmo are some of our favorites. 

If I Wrote a Coronavirus Episode 

Quote of the Day:

“We are at the seven mile point of a marathon”  said on Patriot's Day without the Boston Marathon.  - Dr. Jay Butler, Assistant Director, CDC

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