New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced there would be a significant easing of COVID restrictions on businesses, venues and gatherings starting later this month, and other states are following suit. As business owners, how can you safely navigate risk as things begin to relax across the country and ensure the safety of your employees and your guests?
Join us TOMORROW as our CEO Roslyn Stone discusses all of this with Chipotle’s VP of Food Safety, Kerry Bridges, and Senior Restaurant Analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, Michael Halen.
When: Wed., May 5 at 3 p.m. ET
It’s officially Hepatitis Awareness Month and, though we had hoped the safety precautions adopted at the start of COVID might help break the cycle of hepatitis outbreaks, Hep A, in particular, is still among the top 10 most frequent problems our clients face. Hit reply to see how we can help!
There are two primary reasons we’re seeing more of these lately: vaccination side effects and allergy season. Those who have mild to moderate side effects after getting vaccinated are often too sick to work, but only for a day or two. Another common one we’re seeing a lot are allergies as we head into springtime. For those who say they have seasonal allergies and generally take allergy meds, we’ll often recommend a one day exclusion to give time for those to kick in, and to assess the next day whether those allergy symptoms have resolved. Other illnesses are starting to spread again, too. Often a single, mild symptom like a sore throat or nausea don’t warrant 10 or even three days out, but a single day to monitor symptoms. There’s also the possibility of non-clinical issues - the return of parties (and hangovers), the allure of a three day weekend, etc. But as we navigate loosening restrictions, our general conclusion is that more single-day work exclusions is a huge win. It means more people are getting vaccinated and it means fewer 10-day exclusions.
Yes, breakthrough cases are expected. Even the best vaccines don’t stop 100% of cases; there will always be a small percentage of vaccinated people who still get COVID. The good news is that these folks are less likely to be very sick, less likely to be hospitalized, and much less likely to die. More than 100 million people are fully vaccinated in the U.S. now, so we’ll see more and more breakthrough cases as time goes on, but they’re still very rare (less than 0.0001%). And because the vaccine prevents the most severe cases and deaths, it’s still worth getting vaccinated even if there’s still a small chance you’ll still get mildly sick.
If everyone involved is vaccinated, there’s relatively low risk. If some people are vaccinated and others aren’t, the risk is greater and we still recommend wearing masks for everyone. In situations like traveling on an airplane, we’d recommend confirming that all those involved, including pilots, flight attendants and guests, are fully vaccinated. In those cases, it’s relatively low risk to remove your mask. When in public or in groups that combine several households that aren’t all vaccinated, we still recommend masks and distancing. If all team members in a conference room are fully vaccinated, it’s probably safe to be unmasked. If anyone in that room is not vaccinated, or that meeting is taking place in public where you don’t know the vaccination status of everyone involved, we still recommend masks and distancing.
Yes, across the U.S. we’re seeing a massive decrease in the number of new vaccinations. In LA, the number of appointments dropped by nearly 20,000 from last week. We’re hitting the point where those eager to get vaccinated have done it, and the rest are either hesitant or opposed. There are some things that work. First, sharing info letting employees know they’re eligible and where to get the vaccine. One strategy working well for our clients is sharing info about local walk-in clinics (no appointment needed), especially if you give employees paid time off during the work day to go over to get vaccinated. And on-site vaccination works: a new KFF study shows that nearly a quarter of Americans were more likely to get the vaccine if it was available at their workplace.
Not that we know of. While mandating vaccination is possible (we’re seeing that at major universities), there are few companies requiring vaccination. It’s very hard to follow through on - religious and medical exemptions are complicated to manage, and the issue has become very political. In most cases, we recommend focusing on removing barriers to vaccination: offering time off to walk or drive to convenient, local drop-in vaccination clinics (or even offering on-site vaccinations). That same KFF study (see answer above) also found that nearly one in five workers would be more likely to get the vaccine if their employer offered a $50 incentive for them to get vaccinated. Another successful tactic we’ve seen are competitions between locations to get to a certain vaccination rate. It seems simple but it appears to be working. We’d recommend trying the carrot before you try the stick.