Updated February 29, 2020
As of February 29, 2020 there are approximately 85,400 cases worldwide in 61 countries. The CDC currently considers four (4) countries high risk (South Korea, Italy, Iran, China), and one (1) enhanced risk (Japan).
In the United States there are 64 confirmed cases. There is now evidence of possible community transmission associated with cases in California, Oregon, and Washington.
Latin America and Africa have now reported confirmed cases in Brazil, Mexico and Nigeria, respectively.
There is emerging evidence of community transmission of the virus on the West Coast of the United States with a small number of cases in California, Oregon, and Washington State. Community transmission are when cases of illness not explained by overseas travel or contact with a person known to be infected. If you have facilities located in areas with potential community transmission, monitor information from the local and state health authorities for information regarding the outbreak and possible impacts to communities in your area.
Considering the increasing evidence of community transmission, it is important for food establishments to have a plan in place regarding their workforce and incoming goods.
Recommendations for the Food Industry
Fighting COVID-19 in the Workplace
With the COVID-19 situation changing and new announcements being made on a daily basis, it is difficult for employers to know what they can and should be doing for protection. The following are some recommended strategies for employers based on CDC’s most current information and TAG’s interpretation for food facilities.
Encourage employees who are sick to notify their supervisor and stay home. This is particularly critical for those with symptoms of acute respiratory illness who should stay home until they are free of fever and other symptoms for at least 24 hours - with no healthcare provider note needed. Ensure employees, as well as contract or temporary workers, are aware of the sick leave policies which should be consistent with public health guidance.
Allow employees to stay home to care for sick family member(s). Any employee with a family member with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
Separate sick employees. Any employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms, including a cough, should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately.
If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, inform all fellow employees of their possible exposure, but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Exposed employees should refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
Emphasize respiratory etiquette and proper hand hygiene, placing posters on these, as well as on staying home when sick, around the facility. If you don’t have handwashing stations throughout your facility, provide alcohol-based hand rubs of at least 60-95% alcohol.
Perform routine environmental cleaning beyond your regular pathogenic and sanitation cleaning. Include all frequently touched surfaces, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs, following product label directions and regulatory requirements. Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces can be wiped down by employees before each use.
If you have employees who travel, advise them to check CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations. Any with symptoms of acute respiratory illness should avoid or cancel travel. If illness strikes during travel, the supervisor should be notified and a healthcare provider promptly called for advice. Outside the U.S., a U.S. consular officer can help locate healthcare services. However, U.S. embassies, consulates, and military facilities do not have the legal authority, capability, and resources to evacuate or give medicines, vaccines, or medical care to private U.S. citizens overseas.
For further information and advice on the impacts of COVID-19 on the food industry and advice/insights on managing assets, use of face masks, and other practices, please subscribe to TAG's daily COVID-19 newsletter.
Find our collection of updates and resources here.
Stay safe and please contact us if you have questions.
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