It may seem difficult to take protective action to ensure your workers’ safety against the coronavirus. With limited data, contradicting advice and information seeming to change daily, it can feel challenging for employers to understand and implement safety measures. Take care of your employees by understanding more about the COVID-19 symptoms and transmission. 

Symptoms

As the medical community continues to learn new information about the virus, not all symptoms have been determined and may vary from case to case. However, the most common symptoms include: 

• Fever - 100.4°F/38°C or higher

• Cough - wet or dry cough, however dry cough is a more common indictor of coronavirus

• Myalgia - muscle pain or soreness

• Shortness of breath

While less common, there are other symptoms associated with the virus, including, but not limited to: 

• Upper respiratory infection, such as the common cold

• Gastrointestinal issues, such as vomiting and diarrhea. 

• Loss of taste and smell

According to research presented by Dr. Chaz Langelier, MD, PhD in a recent webinar hosted by ACOEM (COVID-19: Protecting Health Care Workers - Epidemiology, Virology, and Occupational Health Practice), the symptoms may occur anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure. Most often, positive symptoms of the coronavirus appear within two to eight days of exposure. Cases of the virus may range from mild symptoms to severe illness and even death. 

Transmission

While the transmission of viruses varies from case to case, COVID-19 is highly contagious and spreads easily and quickly between people. As COVID-19 spreads more quickly than SARS and other strands of coronaviruses, it may be spreading far more quickly than testing numbers suggest. 

The virus primarily is spread from person-to-person. This occurs when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes and respiratory droplets from an infected person enters the mouth or the nose or inhaled into the lungs of another. This occurs when people are within close contact, specifically less than six feet.

Moreover, transmission can occur between people when someone is asymptomatic, meaning before they show symptoms or feel ill. This is an alarming discovery as the disease may spread to great lengths before someone realizes they are infected. 

During the ACOEM webinar Dr. Coleen KivlahanColeen Kivlahan, MD, MSPH, from the University of California San Francisco, shared her story after testing positive for the coronavirus. As a family doctor, Kivlahan worked closely with patients for extended periods of time. Although she wore a protective mask, Kivlahan believes her close and extended interactions caused her infection. 

Experts believe the virus may also spread by coming into contact with some infected surfaces or objects, then touching your nose, mouth or even eyes.  

This is why we hear so much about “social distancing” to “flatten the curve”. Many states, counties, cities and individual business have created a work-at-home mandate. However, many essential businesses do not have this option. Every effort must be taken to protect workers who need to come to an onsite facility during the pandemic.

Who is at Risk

While no one is exempt from the virus, there are particular people who are more susceptible than others. For instance, older adults and those with medical conditions are at a higher risk of infection. 

In particular, the virus may affect these groups more than others:

• People 65 and older

• People in long-term care or nursing homes

• People of all ages with underlying medical conditions including:

o  Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma

o  Chronic kidney disease 

o  Liver disease

o  Heart conditions

o  Poor immune system caused by cancer, smoking, immune deficiencies, STIs and other        ailments. 

o  Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)

o  Diabetes

Practical Action

Whether on the job or at home, there is practical, preventative action to help prevent the spread of infection. 

• Clean your hands

o  Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 second. When out in public, try to wash your hands often or when you return home. If you sneeze, cough or touch your face, you should wash your hands.

o  Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Rub thoroughly over the surface of your hands until dry.

• Avoid close human contact

o  Avoid anyone who is sick. 

o  Stay six feet away from everyone not in your immediate household. Take steps to protect others.

o  Disinfect your house with appropriate cleaning strategies and disinfecting products that kill germs.

• If you are sick 

o  Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. 

o  Throw used tissues in the trash.

o  Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or sanitize. 

o  Wear a facemask when around other people.

  Do NOT wear a facemask if you are not sick, unless you are caring for someone who is. Facemasks and other PPE are in short supply and should be saved for health care workers. 

  Donate facemasks and other PPE to your local medical community. 

How Examinetics can Help you

To address concerns about transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus at mission critical facilities, Examinetics is providing COVID-19 screening and surveillance. Typical protocols include a risk factor questionnaire and a temperature screening, but can be tailored for specific business requirements. This type of screening is being done at food manufacturing plants, energy infrastructure & utilities, hospitals and other essential industries. Screening is provided by our trained Occupational Health Specialist technicians. We can provide this service at your facility 24 x 7 as needed.