We seemed to have had a bit of a break from COVID-19 and just when we thought we were out of the woods the numbers have risen again. We are once again dealing with exposures, positive cases, and the need to fall back to our layers of mitigation measures to ensure safety in the workplace.
Members calling the NHADA Hotline regarding COVID was a daily occurrence this past winter and spring. Although the calls slowed during the summer, we have noticed an uptick in call volume from members who are concerned about COVID-19. With the resurgence of COVID, NHADA has revised its policies as an employer for dealing with COVID in an ongoing effort to keep staff safe. In doing so we want to publicize our updates with members in hopes they also review and reassess their COVID protocols.
There is a lot of talk among businesses in New Hampshire regarding mandating vaccines, testing employees, and a general feeling of “how do we deal with this...again." Everyone is 100% tired of COVID-19 but, as I have said before; COVID-19 is not yet sick of us. The variants are becoming an ongoing problem; Delta, Delta Plus and now, word of the Lamda variant shows us that this is far from over.
Vaccines are a huge step in our fight against COVID-19 but it is unrealistic to think 100% of the citizens of the US and the world will become vaccinated. There will always be those that cannot due to medical or religious reasons and some that will just not choose to be vaccinated. Pfizer has gotten FDA approval and that may very well sway those who were on the fence about vaccination toward getting it.
We need to remain vigilant in the fight by not easing up on the other mitigation measures that will help slow the spread; masking, social distancing, and good hand hygiene remain excellent tools in the fight against COVID-19.
As members struggle with where to go next with testing and/or mandating vaccinations we strongly encourage members to educate themselves on the latest information from our legal partners and the EEOC. It is important to have all your bases covered from a legal standpoint with regard to employee vaccination status, mandating employee testing or mandating employee vaccination. Our legal hotlines remain a great option for members, as do their recent emails and webinars on the topics of vaccinations.
- EEOC Q&A on COVID-19 Vaccines
- EEOC Guidance on Covid-19 Vaccines
- EEOC Technical Assistance
- Webinar: Moving Toward Mandates? The Latest Thoughts on COVID Vaccination for Employers (NHADA Silver Partner McLane Middleton)
- All NHADA COVID-19 Resources
NHADA Headquarters Protocols
Here at NHADA headquarters we recognized it was time to revisit our policies on COVID to make sure that we were doing all that we can to keep our staff and visitors safe during these challenging times. We extensively researched the State of NH recommendations as well as the CDC and ultimately decided to follow and implement the CDC guidelines. Since the CDC's recommendations are more strict, we felt they do a better job ensuring our ability to manage any cases or exposures here at 507 South Street.
As an employer we strongly encourage our employees get vaccinated but do not mandate it. At this time we are not mandating regular testing of unvaccinated employees. Calls were made to the state and our medical provider partners regarding testing in the event that NHADA policies change and regular testing is implemented.
We are however strongly adhering to the guidelines for masking and social distancing by keeping six feet apart. These two rather simple mitigation measures drastically reduce workplace exposure if an employee is positive for COVID-19.
If you have not been within six feet of a person who is found to have COVID-19 there is no need to quarantine despite your vaccination status.
Daily Screening Procedure
NHADA screens employees and guests that visit the office and have made changes to the daily screening questionnaire. This measure is implemented to ensure that we keep COVID out of our workplace. If an employee does not pass the screening process, they are not permitted to enter the facility. View Daily Screening procedure.
Contact Tracing Procedure
At the end of each day the NHADA staff fills out a 1 question survey asking have they been closer than 6 feet to anyone during the work day for longer than 15 minutes. If they answer no the survey is over. However, if the employee answers yes they are then asked to list the people they had “close contact” with. In the instance that someone were to become infected with COVID, we can manage the spread by knowing who at the office or at member shops may have been exposed. View Contact Tracing survey.
Our new guidelines and our screening tool are attached for our members to review, use for their businesses, or to use towards developing their own guidelines.
Reporting COVID-19 at your Business
As cases rise remember per RSA 141.C exposures at businesses or organizations should be promptly reported to NH DHHS DPHS Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 603-271-4496. Reporting of infectious diseases and furnishing infectious disease related business information (including patron and employee information) is a requirement.
NHADA remains committed to assist our members throughout this challenging time as we all work hard to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. Please reach out with any questions at 800-852-3372 or email Marta at email@example.com. We have many resources to offer and if everyone works together, we can keep each other safe.