Updated: April 09, 2020
Last night (April 08, 2020), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released updated interim guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 (weblink // PDF link).
Key scientific facts that we’ve discussed before have not changed.
There is both asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread of the coronavirus and while it’s still unclear as to amount or duration, the current science indicates infectivity begins at least 48 hours before symptom onset. The 14-day exclusion was implemented to protect us all while reducing the spread from asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals.
This announcement from the CDC opens the door to allow those in critical infrastructure (including food and agriculture) industries to make risk-based decisions about a 14-day exclusion for close contacts.
The definition of “close contacts” has not changed and includes: (a) being in close proximity of a household contact, or (b) having close contact with (being within six feet for more than 10-15 minutes) an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.
the Food Industry
Risk-Based Decision Making.
As you consider what to do based on CDC’s recently released interim guidance, consider the following three (3) criteria:
Is the employee essential to the business, or can you manage without that employee? If the employee is not essential and the business can operate without them, consider having them self-quarantine.
What is the employee’s level of exposure (as a “close contact”)? Some exposures may be at higher risk than others (e.g., being a household member of someone who is a confirmed case versus a casual contact at work).
If the employee (with close contact) remains at work, can you effectively control the risk? Controlling risk means following CDC guidelines, including:
Measuring the employee’s temperature and assessing symptoms prior to starting work
Monitoring temperature at least once during the shift
Wearing a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days
Maintaining social distance (6 feet or 2 meters)
Disinfecting and cleaning workspaces
Not sharing headsets or other objects used near the face
Allowing the employee to leave work if employee becomes sick
TAG’s recommendation remains: If you can have exposed workers self-quarantine for 14 days, do so for public health and workforce protection. If you are unable to do so, consider all the above and strictly follow CDC’s guidance.
Every situation will be different; there is no single, clear answer, just as there is no single right or wrong. Your strategy needs to consider each scenario relative to: (a) the essential nature of the employee, (b) the type and extent of the exposure, and (c) your ability to execute to maintain a safe workplace. We realize this is not a simple process; TAG has the knowledge and expertise to assist you. We are in this together! Give us a call, and we will work with you through your particular situation.
For more information on CDC's updated interim guidance, please see these links:
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a copy of this poster (English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Chinese - simplified, traditional are available).
As of April 09, 2020 (10:17 AM ET), there are over 1,500,000 cases (>89,900 deaths) worldwide.
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, please see here for the data. For further information regarding worldwide numbers, please refer to John Hopkin University’s aggregate map.
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