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COVID-19 Daily Briefing - Wednesday 3.25

Presenteeism, using outside cleaning services, and new info about virus viability

Tuesday's Recap:


  • A soon to be published report in JAMA confirms some concerning new information about the virus’ viability.  The coronavirus appears to remain as an aerosol for 3 hours and survives up to 24 hours on cardboard and 3 days on some plastics and stainless steel.  These are the longest or worst case scenario type of estimates and many factors reduce these viability times.  And  remember that the virus is extremely easy to kill on these surfaces. (See the list of EPA-approved cleaners here)
  • There is some mixed messaging regarding testing. The White House task force said testing was available through the major labs… but we received this message from LabCorp today: “LabCorp does not currently collect specimens for COVID-19 testing. Patients for whom testing has been ordered should not be sent to a LabCorp location to have a specimen collected.”
  • The City of Los Angeles is considering new legislation for restaurants regulating the specifics of employee lay-offs and introducing new handwashing breaks. These will be voted on in the coming weeks and will impact staffing levels required to accomplish those mandated breaks.
  • Gov. De Santis of Florida added significant restrictions to travelers - anyone traveling from New York or New Jersey to Florida has a mandatory 14 day quarantine.
  • Presenteeism was a concern many of you raised today. That’s employees who feel the need to come to work no matter what.  SHRM has some resources to help address this. But key messaging needs to be simple and succinct:  Don’t work sick.  This scenario comes up daily - the manager on duty becomes ill and is the only manager in the restaurant.  He or she needs to leave immediately even if it means closing until another manager can get there to re-open.

Best questions of the day:

1. What is your current opinion about use of outside cleaning services for COVID sanitizing (with a confirmed case)?  This question was the most asked question of the day by a wide margin.

Contracting with outside cleaning services may be challenging or impossible at this time with different state regulations regarding essential services.  Add to that there is reported price gouging and if you’re not closely watching, you have no way of knowing if they’re using EPA-approved cleaning products.  Finally, no one knows your facilities or restaurants like you do.  So, use of outside cleaning services for COVID confirmed cases may not be an option at this time and is not one we are recommending.

2. We have employees who are being seen, diagnosed and then unable to fill their prescriptions because specific medications are being held for healthcare workers and patients with more severe illness.  Any guidance?

We are hearing similar reports and unfortunately, do not have access to the anti-malarials being prescribed.  The evidence on their effectiveness is still not there yet, either.

3. I have an employee who is confirmed positive for COVID-19. What do I do?

If an employee tests positive, they must be excluded from work for a minimum of seven days plus 3 days fever free without medication. This is also true for a presumed positive (since testing is being reserved for healthcare workers or those requiring hospitalization in many instances).

At this time, the CDC is not advising that you quarantine other employees (unless they live with or have intimate relationships with the sick employee). You can remain open.

The restaurant should be sanitized immediately.  There is a COVID Sanitizing protocol on the Zedic App under Knowledge Base that you can use, including a printable checklist for your whole restaurant. Be sure to use an EPA-approved cleaner.

One additional thing you might do after a positive test is ask employees to complete a COVID symptom survey daily for the next two weeks to ensure that you’re keeping tabs on employee symptoms and sending anyone home who is sick (The COVID-19 symptom survey is also on the Zedic App)

Best Read of the Day:

Beyond Coronavirus: The Path to the Next Normal from McKinsey

Term of the day:

Pandemic Goldilocks - the people in the middle doing what they’re being asked to do without panicking or acting too lax  (thanks to CNN for coining this one).

And some good news:

Sir Patrick Stewart is reading Shakespeare sonnets to help us through isolation.

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