Due to the high number of inquiries being received and the continuous developments regarding the virus, TAG will be offering a limited number of COVID-19 Support Plans to businesses concerned with the impact of this outbreak.
Request support below or call us at: 1-800-401-2239.
On Saturday, Washington state declared a state of emergency, a proactive measure to ensure health and safety by “direct[ing] state agencies to use all resources necessary to prepare for and response to the outbreak”. As the outbreak spreads, we will likely see more states and regions declare “state of emergency”.
An increasing number of North American companies are enacting bans on non-essential travel. This recommendation will likely continue, and we will likely see more non-essential travel bans in the coming week(s).
The number of U.S. cases will likely increase in certain hot spots.
It currently appears that COVID-19 is both more contagious and more deadly than the “flu” (influenza).
Companies should consider an employee illness reporting plan for potential illnesses.
While survivability of COVID-19 (specifically) has not been fully studied, studies of other human coronaviruses have found that coronaviruses can survive up to 9 days on surfaces at room temperature.
Currently, there is no published information on coronaviruses' survivability in food. While heat can be used to inactivate coronavirus, freezing is unlikely to inactivate the virus!
Recommendations for the Food Industry
You can also access all previously archived TAG COVID-19 news here.
Please contact us with any questions you may have!
What should I do if an employee reports coming into contact with someone with COVID-19?
As cases of illness continue to be identified in the US and internationally, it is possible you may have an employee that reports contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Based off current guidance from the CDC, if you become aware that an employee has had contact with someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19:
- If the employee is at work, ask them to leave work and return home and immediately call the local or state health department. They will help you determine the next steps. You can clean and sanitize the employee's immediate work area by wiping it down with 70% alcohol, a 0.1% bleach solution or disinfecting wipes that indicate on the label they are effective against human coronaviruses. Gloves should be worn when wiping down the immediate area as well as a protective gown if available.
More detailed cleaning and sanitizing recommendations from the CDC can be accessed here.
If the employee is not at work, tell them to stay at home or go home immediately. Contact the local or state health department for further guidance.
What should I do if an employee starts to feel ill with COVID-19 symptoms at work?
Immediately inform your supervisor. Go or stay at home. Call your doctor or healthcare provider if experiencing sickness with a fever and a cough.
Do not come to work if you're feeling sick. Do call your doctor or healthcare provider.
If an employee reports that they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, immediately contact the local or state health department for guidance about workforce exposure management.
For frontline supervisors:
Ask employees when they report to work how they are feeling or if they know anyone who is not feeling well or has been diagnosed with COVID-19
Check-in with employees throughout the shift (once every 3 - 4 hours), about their health.
Encourage employees to not come to work if they are unwell.
How long can the COVID-19 virus survive on surfaces?
While there are currently no COVID-19 specific studies for survivability on surfaces; studies have been conducted on similar coronaviruses that infect both humans and other animals. Kampf et al.'s review found that human-specific coronaviruses can remain infectious on surfaces between 2 hours to 9 days (at room temperature). Different materials and different temperatures can affect survivability and persistence of the virus.
Can COVID-19 survive freezing or heating in the environment or in food?
As Wolff states, "We are not aware of any published information on the survival of coronaviruses in food. Recent studies have shown SARS-CoV to survive in water to a very limited degree. There is no evidence to suggest the spread of coronaviruses through food or water."
We don't currently have much information regarding how freezing and heating may affect the SARS-COV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19). We do know that from studies of the SARS virus that caused an outbreak in 2003 that heat can inactivate the virus:
Various references mention full inactivation of the SARS virus at 56°C (133°F) between 15 and 30 minutes. The same study that mentions 30 minutes inactivation also determined a positive correlation between time and temperature and found that the SARS virus was inactivated in 10 minutes at 68°C (154.5°F).
Freezing is a common method of preserving viruses in a laboratory setting and evidence from the WHO found the SARS virus can survive more than 21 days at 4°C (39°F) and –80°C (-112°F).
Therefore freezing is unlikely to inactivate the virus. When considering how the virus might survive in frozen foods, one needs to consider how food could potentially be contaminated in a food processing environment with the likelihood of direct contamination of food being very low.
Have further questions, please see our Frequently Asked Questions page.
Find our archived collection of daily updates and resources here.
Request TAG's COVID-19 Support Plan for your business. Request support below or contact us at 1-800-401-2339.
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TAG is focused on staying abreast – and understanding the impact – of the latest regulations, news, technological advancements and trends to best serve our clients. We are dedicated to giving back to the industry, and regularly participate on association boards, as speakers and panelists at industry events and more.
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