Pam Dudding Contributing writer
As of May 29, 2020, “Any person age 10 or older must wear a face covering at all times while entering, exiting, traveling through, and spending time in indoor public settings,” as mandated by Governor Northam’s Executive Order 63.
The coronavirus has become an issue for America. Some appreciate the extra protection taken, although it has not yet been as dangerous as the flu or pneumonia has in America’s past. Others feel it is extending into the rights that individuals have.
Some reporters are manipulating facts such as our local county in Roanoke had to recently contend with.
Molly O’Dell, MD, of the MFA Communicable Disease Control – Alleghany and Roanoke City Health Districts and the Virginia Department of Health with Thomas M. Kerkering, MD, FACP, FIDSA, Professor of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Adjunct Professor, Virginia Tech – Population Studies Program recently tried to correct a mistake in a New York paper.
They wrote; “Today’s issue of May 26, 2020, contains inaccurate and misleading information on COVID-19 related deaths in Roanoke in the on-going series of “Five Ways to Monitor the Coronavirus Outbreak in the U.S. This is not the case. There have been 21 deaths since March 16 in the Roanoke and Alleghany Health Districts. These two health districts consist of the cities of Roanoke, Salem and Covington, Virginia, as well as the counties of Alleghany, Botetourt, Roanoke and Craig. The table below shows the location and number of the deaths by city and county. The graph depicts the week in which these deaths occurred. There is no doubling every 7.2 days and the 21 deaths were not in the last two weeks, but the last eight weeks.”
Many are working on helping communities to stay abreast of the continuing changes due to the coronavirus.
Kristin Adkins, Population Health Manager in Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts, wrote; “As we work through the new normal of Phase One and the Governor’s Forward Virginia plan to reopen, we appreciate all the work you have done to promote safety for staff, clients, volunteers, patients, and customers.”
With the reopening of many establishments, Governor Northam has asked businesses to be “safer at home” by abiding by the Phase One guidelines.
Retailers are encouraged to:
- Post signage at the entrance that states that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19, or known exposure to a COVID-19 case in the prior 14 days, is permitted in the establishment
- Post signage to provide public health reminders regarding physical distancing, gatherings, options for high risk individuals, and staying home if sick
- Practice routine cleaning and disinfection of high contact areas and hard surfaces, including check out stations and payment pads, store entrance push/pull pads, doorknobs/handles, dining tables/chairs, light switches, handrails, restrooms, floors, and equipment. For high contact areas, routinely disinfect surfaces at least every two hours. Certain surfaces and objects in public spaces, such as shopping carts and point of sale keypads, should be cleaned and disinfected before each use
- Encourage customers to wear face coverings while entering, exiting, or otherwise traveling throughout the establishment. Face coverings may be removed while seated, where applicable
- Employees working in customer-facing areas are required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth, such as using CDC Use of Cloth Face Coverings guidance
- Ensure there is a way to sanitize shopping cart and basket handles: either make an EPA-approved disinfectant easily accessible to customers or have employees manage the process and sanitize between each customer use
- Provide sanitizing stations for customers and staff throughout the store, particularly at entry and exit points
- Consider reserving certain hours for senior citizens and other high-risk populations
Physical Distancing Best Practices:
- Establish policies and practices for physical distancing between co-workers and between members of the public
- Provide clear communication and signage for physical distancing in areas where individuals may congregate, especially at entrances, in seating areas, and in check-out lines
- Limit the occupancy of physical spaces to ensure that adequate physical distancing may be maintained
- Where possible, employees and customers should utilize face coverings. Where six feet of physical distance is not possible in a given business setting, employers should provide face covering to employees
- When in-person meetings need to occur, keep meetings as short as possible, limit the number of employees in attendance, and use physical distancing practices
Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfection Best Practices:
- To the extent tools or equipment must be shared, provide access to and instruct workers to use an EPA-approved disinfectant to clean items before and after use
- When developing staff schedules, implement additional short breaks to increase the frequency with which staff can wash hands with soap and water and consider providing alcohol-based hand sanitizers
Enhanced Workplace Safety Best Practices:
- Prior to a shift and on days employees are scheduled to work, employers should screen employees prior to starting work. Employees should also self-monitor their symptoms by self-taking of temperature to check for fever
- For employers with established occupational health programs, employers can consider measuring temperature and assessing symptoms of employees prior to starting work/before each shift. CDC considers a person to have a fever when he or she has a measured temperature of 100.4° F or greater, feels warm to the touch, or gives a history of feeling feverish
- Instruct employees who are sick to stay at home and not report to work
- Develop or adopt flexible sick leave policies to ensure that sick employees do not report to work
- Consider offering vulnerable employee’s duties that minimize their contact with customers and other employees
Jim Cady, the Emergency Management Coordinator for Craig County, encourages citizens to follow the ‘Scout Motto’ of ‘Always Be Prepared’ adding to that, “we need to take all precautions to prevent the spread of this Coronavirus as much as possible.”