Updated: March 23, 2020
This week, we will be discussing planning and implications for a prolonged outbreak and what you and your business can do to ensure your employees and customers are kept safe and healthy.
As businesses are looking to do short-term hires to quickly meet growing demands at retail markets, restaurants, and food production, the US EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) has provided guidance on hiring and COVID-19. To read more, click here
“An employer may screen job applications for symptoms of COVID-19 after making a conditional job offer”. If an employer decides to screen for COVID-19, they must do so for all employees of the same job.
An employer may also take an applicant’s temperature upon conditional offer of employment. However, some individuals with COVID-19 may not have a fever. Additionally, this information becomes medical information (if recorded) and must be treated as such and remain confidential.
If an applicant has COVID-19 (or symptoms), employment should be delayed as “an individual who has COVID-19 or symptoms associated with it should not be in the workplace”.
If an applicant is scheduled to begin immediately but has COVID-19, the job offer may be rescinded if needed since “the individual cannot safely enter the workplace”.
the Food Industry
Everyone should practice social distancing (more specifically, physical distancing), not only those who are ill or at higher-risk (e.g. older individuals, pre-existing conditions) but also among healthy individuals so we may "flatten the curve".
Managing COVID-19 in Your Food Facility.
Based on Harry Stevens at Washington Post and data collected by the John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, COVID-19 cases in the US increased from 1 on January 22 to 15 on February 20. From there, the case number expanded at a significant rate, with 76 cases by March 1, 605 cases by the 9th, 1,281 cases on the 11th and 2,179 on March 13. If the number of cases continues to expand at this rate, there would be about 100 million cases in the US by mid-May. “This is math, not prophecy,” the article states.
All this to say: the impacts of COVID-19 on business, and our lives, will continue to expand exponentially. As both state and federal governments continue to expand restrictions to flatten the curve of this exponential spread, businesses are moving from preventive measures towards the management of off-site workers, absenteeism, and other impacts of this novel pandemic. It is now a matter of who, when, and how, not if.
One question we will address today is one that we have heard many times:
What do I need to do to make sure my food products are safe when a worker tested positive for COVID-19?
As we stated on Saturday, March 21, 2020’s Recommendations for Industry, we discussed that while “there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 by food”, a worker confirmed with COVID-19 does potentially put other employees at risk. Thus, if an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should maintain the confidentiality of the person diagnosed, and
Verify the employee’s diagnosis. Ensure the health department was contacted by the diagnosing healthcare person/facility.
Identify those with whom the employee may have or likely did come in close contact with. Recommend those individuals self-quarantine and call their health provider for further advice.
Inform other employees of their possible exposure. Provide recommendations from the CDC or your state or local health department.
Re-double your cleaning and sanitation efforts to control any associated risks, particularly in areas the employee may have contacted. (See the EPA-registered list of “disinfectant” products for COVID-19)
It is important that, through all this, you do not disclose the diagnosed worker’s identity.
As the situation develops, TAG will continue providing coverage of the pandemic and advice to help your business survive. TAG has developed a full Toolkit of recommendations for this and other business impacts. Contact us for more information.
As of March 23, 2020 (12:10 PM ET), there are over 353,600 cases (>15,400 deaths) worldwide in 193 countries/territories.
Papua New Guinea, Isle of Man, Timor-Leste, Haiti, Cabo Verde, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Eritrea, Syria, Uganda have reported their first cases of COVID-19. Zimbabwe, Czech Republic, and Nigeria have announced their first deaths related to COVID-19.
In the United States, there are 35,345 confirmed/tested (473 deaths) COVID-19 cases. All 50 states and various U.S. territories are now reporting cases. The following states have issued stay-at-home orders: California, New York, Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey, Louisiana, Connecticut, Delaware, and Michigan.
Current Confirmed Cases (Please note, instead of countries over 100 cases, TAG will now be reporting countries with over 1,000 cases):
United States: 35,345
South Korea: 8,961
United Kingdom: 5,748
For further information, please see Johns Hopkins University’s aggregate map.
Keep up to date with COVID-19:
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