Some experts are saying that plexiglass between booths or workstations block large particles that come from talking loudly or coughing. Others say that if they don’t go to the ceiling (which they technically shouldn’t because there would be less airflow for that table or work station), then they are primarily to make people feel more comfortable. One way to test their effectiveness is with a can of smoke (like those used to test smoke detectors) or a cigarette. If the smoke rises above the plexiglass, it’s more for show than for providing real protection. Many jurisdictions require physical barriers when people are unable to social distance (at tables that are closer than 6ft apart), so we expect that you’ll need them for some time.
Stick to everything you’re hopefully already doing! That includes daily employee wellness checks, handwashing, sanitizing regularly, not letting anyone work sick and excluding sick employees or those who have had close contact for the appropriate length of time. It’s a good time to do an internal audit to make sure that everyone is filling out a daily employee wellness check before each shift, and to ensure they’re really taking their time with it and reporting if any roommates or family members are sick. Other than that, the things you’re already doing every day to prevent the spread of COVID are the best defense against outbreaks in your area.
We now know that there was never really a valid clinical reason to do temperature checks. After taking millions of daily employee temp checks for more than a year, our clients haven’t found more than a few COVID cases as a result. While many people do have a fever with COVID, it’s not often the first symptom. And as it gets warmer, we’re getting back into some of the seasonal issues we saw last spring and summer like elevated skin temperature as folks are waiting in line outside.
The bigger question is: does it make your employees feel more comfortable? One client did a survey of their workforce last week and found that employees felt safer when they were doing temp checks, so they’ve opted to keep them in place. It may be the employee health version of theatrical cleaning.
And besides, some towns and states still require them, but we expect to see many of those requirements relaxed. Clinically, we’re comfortable with ditching temp checks for guests and employees, but whether to actually do it will depend on how your employees feel and if your area allows it.
Many of the precautions you currently have in place for COVID control the spread of Norovirus, too. But be sure no one is working sick, that someone with Noro-like symptoms doesn’t work until they’re symptom-free for at least 48 hours, that anyone they live with or have intimate contact with remains out of work for at least three days, and that the product you’re using to sanitize for COVID is also approved for Noro. Noro can spread so quickly through a workplace because it takes such a small amount of the virus (so small it barely fits on a pin’s head) to infect a lot of people.