The winter season is getting closer every day. There is a big concern with colder temperatures, that COVID-19 may surge again. The fear is that it will be more formidable than what we have already experienced the past 9 months. The CDC recently expanded the definition of “close contact” in the workplace and what it means. In order for a business to operate properly it needs to protect its workers and make them feel safe.
Although many businesses have shifted their employees to work from home, some are still needed to operate the business from the office. Protocols and plans must be in place to try and protect employees from contracting and spreading the virus further. The previous CDC statement about close contact labeled it as being within six feet of a confirmed COVID-19 case for fifteen minutes consecutively. The new statement they came out on October 22nd expands upon the fifteen minutes being totaled over a twenty-four-hour period. This means if a worker were next to a confirmed case for fifteen minutes, but it was divided into three intervals of five minutes or more, this would fit the definition of close contact and should be avoided.
Having this information is a good first step for keeping employees aware of what situations they need to stay away from. However, it can be challenging trying to calculate the amount of time you have spent with someone. It is even harder to stay away from an infected person especially if they do have any symptoms.
For more ways to protect yourself and others on the job, the CDC recommends pairing social distancing with the combination of other common practices such as wearing a mask, hand washing, using alcohol-based sanitizers, face shields or screens. These methods when used together have proven to be effective in minimizing the spread of infections from one person to another.
A vaccine is close, however we still need to practice social distancing and keep wearing masks as we go about our daily routine. The only way for us to get through this is by protecting one another and following safety protocols.