COVID-19 Occupational Webinar Series: July 16th Updates

Posted on Behalf of  Olivia Leleck

Posted on Behalf of Olivia Messina Leleck.

As part of Cardno ChemRisk’s support during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are offering bi-weekly complimentary webinars to the general public to help inform the participants on the latest issues, available resources, and updated recommendations on COVID-19. Some of the topics discussed on our July 16th webinar include:

COVID-19 Pandemic Update: Managing Ongoing Risks

The U.S. is currently experiencing a steady increase in COVID-19 cases. According to current projections, this phase of the pandemic is expected to continue in the coming months, particularly if mandates for facial coverings and social distancing are eased.

Based on commercial lab data reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the median age of those testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 is decreasing. This indicates that younger age groups who are more likely to be traveling for work, going into the office, and socializing are being heavily affected by the pandemic. Businesses must remain vigilant and flexible, keeping in mind that their workers and communities are still at risk.

In order to manage ongoing risks in the workplace, it is important for businesses to:

·       Follow changing guidelines and maintain awareness of scientific literature
·       Evaluate the implementation of management and response plans
·       Adapt operations as appropriate based on new scientific evidence and internal evaluation

Evaluation of COVID-19 response and reopening plans is a key aspect of mitigating risks. If a full evaluation is not possible, businesses should consider identifying small objectives that are feasible to assess, such as:

  • Quantitative measures:
    •    Response times following case identification
    •    New case rate among employees compared to the local community
    •    Attack rates among staff in close contact with positive employees
      •       Low secondary attack rate: controls are likely working (low staff-to-staff transmission); high secondary attack rate: controls are likely not working and should be adjusted
  • Qualitative feedback:
    •    Staff surveys assessing attitudes/acceptance of new policies
    •    Customer surveys assessing adherence to policies

Understanding Virus Transmission

The current understanding is that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is mainly transmitted through droplet and contact transmission. However, due to the novelty of SARS-CoV-2, uncertainties remain about the modes of transmission. It is recommended that businesses use caution by assuming airborne transmission is a possibility.

It can be difficult to distinguish between modes of transmission, particularly droplet and airborne transmission. The differences are based on particle size and spread distance, as described below:

·       Droplet transmission:
     o   Larger virus particles (>5 µm)
     o   Close-range spread only (<2 meters)
·       Airborne transmission:
     o   Smaller virus particles (<5 µm)
     o   Long-range spread (>2 meters)

Understanding particle size can help inform interventions such as face coverings and social distancing. When developing interventions and COVID-19 response plans, it is also important to remember that droplets are not static and can be impacted by environmental conditions, such as temperature and relative humidity. For more information about SARS-CoV-2 transmission, see this scientific brief from the World Health Organization.

Cardno ChemRisk’s COVID-19 support covers a variety of industries (media and television, food and beverage manufacturers, pipeline construction, etc.) and includes assistance in developing and evaluating COVID-19 response plans. Learn more about the ways Cardno ChemRisk can support your business on our website.

The Cardno ChemRisk team is hosting its next COVID-19 update webinar on July 30th at 10 a.m. PST / 1 p.m. EST. Our team will examine ventilation and its importance in light of COVID-19. Click here to register.