Updated: April 1, 2020
The CDC has updated their public health recommendations. The CDC’s recommendations now align with TAG’s recommendations that identifying a period of exposure risk should be from “48 hours before symptom onset and until the sick contact meets criteria for discontinuing home isolation”. More on that tomorrow.
The discussions and recommendations on masks (and mask usage) are rapidly evolving.
In manufacturing and production settings (when social distancing cannot always be adequately maintained), masks can become the last step in a risk management strategy to minimize the spread of viral respiratory droplets. However, masks should not be used as the end all/be all. Social distancing, handwashing, and refraining from touching face, eyes, and other membranes should take priority. Read more in Recommendations for Industry, below.
the Food Industry
TAG Updates its Recommendations for Masks in Food Facilities.
In recent days, there has been a great deal of media attention on masks for COVID-19 protection. For example, employees are requesting to wear homemade masks, and the CDC is sending signals that masks may help reduce the spread of the virus in the community. Specifically, the recent Lancet article Rational use of face masks in the COVID-19 pandemic stated, “As evidence suggests COVID-19 could be transmitted before symptom onset, community transmission might be reduced if everyone, including people who have been infected but are asymptomatic and contagious, wear face masks.”
Aligned with this, health care workers should still be given priority for available masks. Not only are health care workers unquestionably at the highest risk, but there is also still a shortage of surgical masks and N95 respirators. Due to its importance in protecting health care workers, the latter should be reserved for healthcare workers.
Employee wellness checks, handwashing, social distancing, and not touching your face are still the most important controls. Wearing a mask may add an additional level of protection. TAG’s recommendations are as follows:
If you are infected with COVID-19, wearing a mask will reduce the spread from yourself to others.
If you are not able to consistently maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet (2 meters) throughout the workday and during meals and breaks, then wearing a mask combined with handwashing and not touching your face, may provide an additional level of protection.
Practicing proper hand washing and not touching your face is essential even if you wear a mask.
Explore how you can obtain masks for your workforce. Priority should be given to those that have to work within 6 feet (2 meters) of each other.
Allow homemade masks. Employees may feel more protected if they are allowed to wear a mask throughout the day (either provided by the employer or brought from home). Do remind employees that handwashing, not touching the face, and maintain social distance is just as important (even with a mask on).
If homemade masks are allowed, ask employees to use a different fabric front/back or mark the inside so that the potentially contaminated side (outward-facing side) is not put towards the face after removal/re-use.
To keep masks clean, masks that can be laundered should be washed at home daily. If a mask becomes excessively dirty, it should be changed or replaced.
Fit all masks as well as possible. Avoid touching your face when you are wearing the mask.
When homemade masks are used, employees should cover the mask with a beard net or head covering to prevent bits of homemade mask falling into food.
See TAG’s COVID-19 FAQs for further information
For those interested in a homemade mask, the CDC describes making simple masks in the CDC Emerging Infectious Diseases/Simple Respiratory Mask document. These masks are made from a heavyweight cotton t-shirt. This mask was quantitatively compared to an N95 and demonstrated an effective fit factor when compared to a surgical mask or no mask use. Other industries are shifting production to manufacture more masks that will become available to the medical and essential infrastructure sectors.
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".
Please feel free to use this free poster at your establishment. Please email us (email@example.com) for a copy of this poster (English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Chinese - simplified, traditional are available).
As of April 01, 2020 (16:00 ET), there are over 911,308 cases (>46,000 deaths) worldwide in 202 countries/territories.
Due to the increasing number of cases in the United States, TAG will move from reporting counts per country to focusing on the United States. For further information regarding worldwide numbers, please refer to John Hopkin University’s aggregate map.
The following states in the U.S. have issued stay-at-home orders: California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Louisiana, Connecticut, Washington, Ohio, Oregon, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Delaware, Michigan, West Virginia, Indiana, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, Alaska, and Hawaii.
Using per capita data from CNN's ongoing live coverage of COVID-19 tracking in the U.S.,TAG has collated this information as part of our daily updates to look at the current rate of illness (per 100,000 people) in each state and territories throughout the United States. Both rate of change and density of illness contribute to the risk profile of an area – and the businesses within it. You can find our updates below.
Information update: retrieved from CNN at 8:30AM CT.
Keep up to date with COVID-19:
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