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COVID-19 Daily Briefing - Weekend Edition

Because a lot of important updates

Today’s Recap:

  • There’s a general consensus that NY has hit a plateau this week… and now three consecutive days with a decrease in case count. It’s early, but definitely an encouraging sign.
  • Figuring out what comes next just one day after the deadliest day yet is beyond challenging for governors and state alliances. States grapple with timing of reopening as COVID-19 deaths spike.
  • Most of you are aware that the White House rolled out guidelines for re-opening.  They raise many more questions than they do answers, but more importantly they do begin to map out a path forward (or out…).  Here’s Nation’s Restaurant News’ take on it.
  • Bogus COVID testing sites are popping up across the country. Most real testing sites are free, and sick employees should be referred by a physician to a local testing site. When in doubt, call your local health department to confirm a testing site.  And the same is true for anyone who tells you they have unlimited access to home COVID testing (as many of you were told today).
  • The Mount Sinai Hospital System in New York reports telemedicine has increased 1,000 fold - yes 1,000 fold!  And Rhode Island reported even higher numbers. works There are many things that may be here to stay when this is over, and much of non-emergent care being delivered via telemedicine is one of them.  Providers are having some difficulty getting paid properly but that can be worked out.
  • California announced Thursday that it is offering two weeks of paid sick leave for certain CA food sector employees, to “fill the gap” of federal support and stimulus packages. 

Your Best Questions of the Day:

Do you expect employees will be wearing masks when we re-open?

We do.. at least in the short term.  Today we heard the term “Mass-k Confusion” and liked it.  There is tremendous confusion and changing guidance about who needs to wear masks, where and when. We’ve quickly gone from no one wearing masks, to some employees asking to wear masks, to most employees begrudgingly wearing masks, and now to employees wanting your guests or customers to be wearing masks also.

Can we test all of our employees before we open? Or any employees?

Unfortunately, no…. Broad testing will be an important part of our new normal until antibody testing and vaccinations are standard.  But it now sounds like parts of the country will begin opening in the next several weeks and employee testing is not yet available.  We will continue to monitor this situation and keep you updated.  Testing reagents and swabs continue to be in short supply, and continue to be reserved for health care workers and those who are sick.  Anyone who tells you today they can test their employees, have home kits readily available, know what tests will cost or know what an positive antibody test actually means is likely not being forthcoming with you.

How is it that my managers are the ones who keep working sick and exposing others?

Good question.  You are all experiencing this same phenomenon.  One client was forced to close a location that was doing awesome curbside business after nearly the entire crew was excluded for exposure to a manager who worked while awaiting testing results. Another had to bring in a manager from elsewhere (who risked travel and checking into a hotel) to keep another manager’s location open.  We need to keep drilling this message in:  no one works sick, no one should work while awaiting results,  managers need to lead by example and the risk they pose based on the number of employees with whom they interact makes this even more critical.

We’re struggling with employees who are healthcare workers?  The CDC guidance tells us not to exclude them from work if they work with a mask… but they’re working with COVID patients and we’re hearing healthcare workers are testing positive at alarming rates.

Clearly this was the question and issue of the day.  We spent hours discussing it with many of you.  This is a very, very complicated issue.  We want to support our employees who are also healthcare workers and allow them to continue to work if they so desire.  But  they also have a much higher chance of becoming infected.  Excluding them isn’t simply a 14 day exclusion - their exposures aren’t going to end in 14 days. And the issue is larger than just nurses - many of you have employees who are critical infrastructure workers who are first responders, active duty combat medics or funeral home workers.  There is no easy or single answer to this question.  If the employee is just working one or two shifts per week, the compassionate solution would be to pay them not to work for the duration.  Obviously that’s not a solution that works for everyone.  For now, they should be handled on a case by case basis and it’s very important that they are masked and gloved while working for you.

Best Read of the Day:

Testing Must Double or Triple Before US Can Safely Open, Experts Say

Best Entertainment of the Day:

We’re all losing track of the days of the week, but this Cleveland weatherman has a new segment for that, and we love it… 

As we now know, it’s Friday, won’t send another summary until Monday unless something comes up (which based on today’s fast and furious happenings is a real possibility).  Have a good weekend. 

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