We’re seeing a huge increase in Noro across the country right now. The height of Noro season usually lasts from November to April, but can spread any time throughout the year. Norovirus is particularly tough because it’s extremely infectious; one person can shed billions of particles and it only takes a few to make someone sick. Noro spreads from direct contact with someone sick, contaminated food or water, or touching a contaminated surface and putting your unwashed hands in your mouth. Recognize the signs of Noro - diarrhea and vomiting, often both and at the same time. While these can be COVID symptoms, Noro doesn’t include respiratory symptoms. If someone has GI symptoms, they should not work! Ensure proper food handling, handwashing, keeping sick employees out for at least 48 hours after vomiting and diarrhea has stopped, and ensure that anyone who lives with the sick employee is excluded, as well. If you suspect Noro and someone worked within 24 hours of their symptom onset, do a thorough cleaning and disinfection (remember, QUAT sanitizer doesn’t kill Noro!). Noro sanitizing protocols should take time - cleaning every square inch of your space with an EPA-approved Noro sanitizer. Check out the ZZH or Zedic Apps for Noro Q&A and Action Plans, and our Noro Sanitizing Protocols.
The CDC announced this afternoon that they’ve changed the metrics they use to determine whether masks are recommended. Previously, they recommended masks (even for vaccinated people) in areas with high or substantial transmission rates - but that makes up about 95% of counties in the US. The new measure they’ll use will consider caseloads, hospitalizations and local hospital capacity, which are not as severely impacted during the Omicron surge, in part because Omicron appears to be less severe, especially for those who are fully vaccinated and boosted. Nearly 70% of Americans are now in areas where masks indoors are optional instead of recommended.
Even without the federal OSHA ETS, it’s important to know your employees’ vaccination status to comply with local regulations like mask and indoor vaccination mandates. In California, employers must know their employees’ vaccination status, and those who aren’t up to date have different requirements and exclusion lengths after exposure or illness. Even in districts where there’s no mask or vaccination mandate for indoors, the CDC’s recommended exclusion guidance is different for those who are exposed and unvaccianted, requiring a quarantine after close contact with someone COVID+ where employees who are fully up to date on vaccinations don’t need to stay home at all.
First, if possible, we highly recommend requiring everyone to be vaccinated and boosted to attend your event in-person. That’s by far the most effective way to prevent a COVID outbreak, and especially if the event includes managers, leaders, and others that your employees look up to, it sends a great message. Regardless of whether you require vaccination for the event, we recommend testing before travel and at least the first day of the event or, if possible, each day. Rapid tests should suffice for this. If this event is multi-days at a hotel, distribute tests to attendees’ hotel rooms so they can test in private. You should have an action plan (including accommodations, food, and return travel) for anyone who tests positive.