We have been doing this how long now? Over 11 months? That's how long?…No it can’t be, really?!

COVID-19 is the guest that won’t leave; we have dropped the hints that it has over stayed its welcome but it remains. We are all tired, annoyed at what we can’t do, missing travel, missing large crowds, growing to hate the darn mask; these are common complaints. Despite our frustration we need to push forward and be more focused then ever in our fight against the spread of COVID-19.

Mask Updates:

The CDC has announced new recommendations for mask use. The current recommendation is to wear two masks; a hospital type disposable mask worn under a cloth mask. It is also recommended that knots be tied in the ear straps of the disposable mask close to the mask; this allows the mask to be worn closer to the face and hug the face more tightly. It makes sense and its easy to do. The extra layers and tighter fit mean more protection to you from others and others from you. This guidance comes out as another tool for us to fight not only COVID-19 but also against the threat of the more contagious variants.

Quarantine Updates:

Per the CDC there are new recommendations regarding quarantine after an exposure in relation to vaccinations and people who have had COVID-19 previously – this is from the CDC:

            People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19—excluding people who have had COVID-19 within the past 3 months.

  • People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not have to quarantine or get tested again as long as they do not develop new symptoms.
  • People who develop symptoms again within 3 months of their first bout of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.
  • People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated against the disease within the last three months and show no symptoms.

Vaccine Updates:

As different stages of the vaccination distribution become available to more of the population there is a common misconceptions that once vaccinated the rules no longer apply to you. Unfortunately that is not the case and you will need to continue with all the current recommendations of mask wearing, social distancing, and personal hygiene. Of course the hope and plan is to slow and stop the spread but we are not there yet and new studies are being done to show us just how immune we will be after a vaccination. Some studies show you may not get it but you might still be able to give it…meaning you may still be able to carry the COVID-19 virus and asymptomatically pass it on to others. There are also studies being done to know exactly how long your immunity will last after the vaccine. So for now you need to continue to be careful and follow the recommendations of the state and CDC.

Screening:

While there are currently no updates regarding the recommendation of screening your employees and customers for COVID-19 prior to coming in to your business everyday; it is time for a refresher. Screening employees and customers before they come into the office for any signs, symptoms, or exposure to COVID-19 is single handedly the most effective and easiest thing you can do to keep your employees and your customers safe.

Screening Questions:

Do you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher that are new for you? Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish
  • Respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, or shortness of breath
  • General body symptoms such as muscle aches, chills, and severe fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Changes in a persons sense of taste or smell
  • Have you had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the prior 10 days
  • Have you traveled in the prior 10 days for non essential purposes outside of NH, ME, VT, MA, FI, or CT, including domestically or internationally, or on a cruise ship.

Regarding Customers

If you don’t have proper signage at all customer entrances its time to get them. Or if they got pulled down for some reason; its time to put them back up. Businesses should have signage that makes customers stop and read prior to coming in; it should review all the screening questions and offer a number the customer should call for assistance to do business in the event they answer yes to any of the screening questions.

Regarding Employees      

If you have continued to screen your employees before the work day starts I applaud you! If for some reason you never have or you have gotten lax with this process; its time to start fresh. As stated this is an easy way to keep your employees and customers safe. Whether you assign someone to review the screening with employees or you allow them to self screen; you need to make sure its being done every time they come in to work and should be documented. I wish I could report that I hadn’t heard from members who have gotten lax with screening or that employees haven’t reported to work sick and later are found to be COVID-19 positive; but I have and on multiple occasions unfortunately.  Screening needs to be part of the work day process.

Regarding Contact Tracing

We all need to do our part to help with contact tracing. If an employee or customer reports to you they are COVID-19 positive you need to be able to quickly identify who may have had close contact with that person and then promptly put in to place the recommendations of self quarantine. Keeping a log of customers is helpful and of course knowing who worked when and who they interacted with. Going back approximately 10-14 days from an exposure and trying to see who worked with you can be tedious but is necessary if there is an exposure or if someone tests positive; so the more documentation you have just in case will save time later.

So many members have called in the past months with questions and concerns regarding exposures or employees and / or customers testing positive as well as reaching out to be proactive in the fight to slow the spread of COVID-19 and we are proud of the work everyone is doing. It’s time to stay strong and continue the fight. We continue to be your source for “all things COVID” and if we don’t know the answer, we will get it or point you in the right direction.

Image: Olivier Douliery / AFP via Getty Images

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Marta J Silakka RN, BSN, CCM, COHN-S, Nurse Case Manager

As the Nurse Case Manager for the Workers Comp Trust; Marta oversees the medical management of the injured workers claims. She assists in referrals within the managed care network and maintains communication between the injured worker, medical providers, employers, and the claims team. Marta also writes for Drive: NH with a focus on health related issues and case management topics. Outside the office she enjoys cooking and organizing social functions for her friends and family as well as spending time with her dogs Gracie and Sawyer.

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