Updated: April 17, 2020
Based on both scientific research and anecdotal evidence, there is increasing credible evidence for anosmia (loss of sense of smell) to be a symptom of COVID-19. Earlier this month, based on research from ENT UK and the American Society of Otolaryngology, we recommended that wellness screenings include anosmia as a secondary symptom. With further scientific evidence published this week, we have, once more, updated our recommendations to include questions focused on loss of smell as part of a Wellness Screening Question (for Employees and Visitors):
1. If loss of smell is reported (not related to allergies, congestion, etc.), send the person home to self-quarantine.
2. At this point, we do not recommend that close contacts be sought or sent home.
We will continue to follow the science and update our recommendations if and as applicable.
the Food Industry
Proper Mask Usage.
Today’s recommendations continue the Back-to-Basics discussion. Today, we will continue our focus on the four basics of risk mitigation depicted in TAG’s COVID-19 Preventive Control Pyramid (below):
Employee Wellness Checks
Social Distancing and Hygiene
Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfection
Non-medical masks or other face coverings are primarily intended to protect others from those who are COVID-19 asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic, or undiagnosed (anyone who is symptomatic or has been diagnosed should be self-isolating or quarantining). Face coverings and non-medical masks are increasingly encouraged by federal agencies and also mandated by some state and local agencies, too.
To reflect the evolving epidemiology of the COVID-19 outbreak, TAG highly recommends that non-medical grade masks or homemade masks be used by all employees in a food facility. A recent article in the Lancet supports this rationale, stating, “[a]s 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”. The primary goal of widespread mask usage is to reduce droplet spread throughout the facility and reduce the risk of transmission by contagious asymptomatic employees.
To be effective, masks must be properly used and properly cared for, as follows:
Donning (putting on) mask.
Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds OR use a >60% alcohol-based hand rub before donning
Check which side is the "inside" and "outside" of mask. If needed, use a marker to mark the "inside" and "outside" of mask
PUT MASK ON Carefully without touching face, nose, or mouth.
Place mask so it completely covers mouth and nose! Adjust the mask to fit.
Do not touch mask once it is on; if you do, wash hands again following Step 1.
Doffing (taking off) mask.
Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds OR use a >60% alcohol-based hand rub before doffing
Remove carefully, avoiding touching the front or inside of the mask. Virus particles may be present on either side.
Store and wash or dispose:
If mask is washable, place it into a disposable or cleanable bag or container. Launder in the washing machine. Store mask in container while not wearing. Wash mask daily.
If disposable mask, throw away immediately into trash
Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds OR use a >60% alcohol-based hand rub after taking off mask. If you do touch mask, rewash your hands.
Contact TAG for your copy of the infographic/poster illustrating the below for your employees. This is currently available in English and Spanish (other languages, in progress). We will have these resources available for download on the website, soon.
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 17, 2020 (11:59 ET), there are over 2,188,000 cases (>147,000 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.
Keep up to date with COVID-19:
Please send us any questions, comments, and/or concerns! We are happy to talk with you.
OR call us at 1-800-401-2239
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