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Daily COVID-19 Briefing - Tuesday, May 19

Today’s Recap:

  • This weekend you experienced limitations of paper (and verbal) wellness checks as several COVID + cases and symptomatic employees came up for locations  newly on the electronic wellness checks.  It's unclear if those locations weren’t doing the paper checks or managers were dismissing “Yes” answers as they were faced with staffing issues.
  • The stock market rallied today on news about a very good first trial of a vaccine.  But.. the sample size was very small!
  • NYU and Washington University are trialling a Post Exposure Prophylaxis medication for COVID exposure - similar to how we use Tamiflu.  
  • Stay at home orders show evidence of slower rates of COVID, as shown in this study of the Iowa/Illinois border.
  • Hard hit by the pandemic, some restaurants are now adopting "COVID-19 surcharges."

  • Lots of communication from Health Department’s Contact Investigators today.  Most are interpreting close contact at 10 minutes rather than the 30 minutes the CDC has repeated for non-healthcare workers. 

Best Questions of the Day:

Can people wear face shields if a mask is uncomfortable?

Short answer, no. Face shields are not a substitute for masks. The CDC is working on getting some additional resources for folks who have a hard time wearing masks, but our best advice here is to help employees experiment with different masks. Make sure they try ones with wire nosepieces, ties instead of ear-loops, etc. Bandandas, buffs, and other non-mask face coverings can also be more comfortable and are acceptable - though more layers is better. 

A health department wants contact information for employees who worked with one of my employees more than two weeks ago.  How should we handle that?

First, we recommend speaking with the health department and making sure that you’re on the same page around the timeline. Maybe they are just going through their checklist and haven’t realized that this took place over 14 days ago. Make sure they understand the timeline and ask them why it’s important to let employees know if the window for self-quarantine has passed. There may be a good reason, or they may realize that they don’t need to jump through that hoop. Remember to be courteous, transparent, and work with them as a partner - making friends with your health department and contact tracing team is more important now than ever.

We notified employees that a co-worker has tested positive and now they don’t want to work.  What’s your suggestions for how to best handle this?

It’s important that your employees understand that you are following the highest standards, consulting with health departments, your medical advisors (us) and the CDC, and that you’ve conducted and carefully complied with the CDC’s Risk Assessment.  They need to see that you’re doing wellness checks, that PPE is available and used, that everyone is expected to stay home when sick (and not encouraged to work…) and that you understand that they have real fears.  Empathy goes a long way.  When you’ve done all of that, it’s possible some employees will still be afraid to work (or minors whose parents are afraid for them) and you’ll need to respect and work through that. 

Best Read of the Day: 

As many of you start to have COVID-positive employees and states start to get a handle on their contract tracing plans, you’ve started to hear from contact tracers in a variety of ways. Learn more about who they are and what they do...

The US is Building an Army of Contact Tracers

Best Laugh of the Day:

We’ve talked about a lot of customer social distancing strategies, but we have to admit that we didn’t think of this one…

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