Adapted from our November 6, 2020 newsletter. Information is current as of Nov. 6, 2020.
Yeah, we’re tired of it. And it shows – the numbers in Minnesota are increasing at alarming rates. Just to remind everyone, if we take the basic precautions (mask up, wash up, keep apart):
- We are more likely to stay healthy
- Our health care workers (who still do not have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) will be able to keep working
- We’re less likely to overwhelm our health care system
- Our businesses can keep operating.
Don’t wait for a vaccine. Even if one is approved early in 2021, it will take months before it is distributed to the general public. Health care and emergency services workers will be vaccinated first.
The CDC has updated the definition of a close contact to be anyone who has been within six feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes over a 24 hour period, within two days before someone showed symptoms or tested positive. If you talked with Bob three times on Monday, with each conversation only lasting five minutes, and he then developed symptoms on Wednesday, you’re considered a close contact. The Minnesota Department of Health recommends that you spend the next two weeks quarantining yourself.
How to protect yourself and your employees:
- Require masks be worn over the mouth and nose, especially if employees are within six feet of others (ideally, masks go on as soon as someone is within 20 feet)
- Promote and enforce physical distancing
- Limit group gatherings
- Remind employees of precautions they need to take. Any employee who believes they may have had exposure (attended an event where physical distancing and masks were not enforced), should let you know immediately. You can then decide on your strategy (have the employee work from home, isolate where they work, etc.) and determine if any other employees may have been exposed.
Talk to employees before Thanksgiving. The holidays are a time for families to get together – and that means it will be prime time to spread COVID-19. How can you celebrate safely? Zoom? Our neighboring states have the highest rates of COVID cases in the country right now. As we’re writing this, there were more than 9 million positive cases in the US and 250,000 people have died from the virus. If Minnesota’s numbers keep rising, the state will need to put more restrictions in place.
Thanksgiving is the major holiday for our family, but for the first time in our lives we aren’t getting together. Each household will have to make their own pumpkin pie to have for breakfast the next day.
Remind employees to take the standard precautions: wear face coverings when not eating, limit close contact, no hugging, wash hands frequently, physically distance (think about multiple tables or staggered eating times, rather than squeezing everyone in close), and watch for symptoms. This is a time we need to have honest conversations—if someone has had exposure, they must not put others at risk. That could mean staying home from work for 10 days after returning from a trip to see family and letting employers and coworkers know if you are at risk, so they can socially isolate at work.
COVID-19: Workplace Challenges Webinar on Mon, Nov 9
We are hosting a free webinar on Monday, November 9 at 2 pm on COVID-19: Workplace Challenges. COVID-19 cases are on the rise as we are heading into holiday and flu season. No one wants to lose employees or shut down because of the virus. But as small businesses, you’re particularly vulnerable to COVID’s impacts. If one employee gets COVID, do you need to quarantine everyone, shutting down your shop? Does each sick employee need to file for worker’s comp?
We’ve been fielding a lot of questions about the virus. So, let’s talk about them. Janet and Carol will cover some of the basics, best practices, and some of the complications.
Are masks really worth it? Yes.
Wearing face coverings has, unfortunately, become politicized. But the science behind them is sound. Even thin face coverings will block some of your respiratory emissions, reducing the chances that you’ll infect someone else (remember – you can be infectious before you show any symptoms).
If you want visual proof of why face coverings work, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Tp0zB904Mc.
Right now, it’s been anything goes for face coverings – bandanas, N95 filtering facepieces, home-made masks, balaclavas…. But an ASTM Subcommittee on Respiratory Hazards has begun working on a standard to specify the minimum design, performance, and testing requirements.