May 14, 2020

COVID-19 Weekly Roundup: Essential Worker Fatigue, Fatalities in New York, and More

COVID-19 updates from The Synergist for May 14:

Protecting workers at meat processing plants. A Department of Labor blog post offers eight suggestions for minimizing coronavirus exposures among workers at meat processing plants. According to a recent CDC report, between April 9 and April 27 more than 4,900 workers at meat and poultry processing facilities had contracted COVID-19 and 20 workers had died from the disease.

Another hazard for essential workers: fatigue. As emergency responders, healthcare professionals, and other workers deemed essential work longer hours than usual to provide necessary services during the pandemic, concern grows that fatigue is compromising workplace safety. CDC has published some suggestions about what workers and employers can do to manage fatigue.

Measuring fatalities in New York City. While the actual death toll from COVID-19 probably won’t be known for a while, a CDC report has found that approximately three-quarters of 32,107 total deaths in New York City between March 11 and May 2 were in excess of the seasonal expected baseline.

FDA rescinds approval for more than 70 FFRs made in China. On May 7, the Food and Drug Administration reissued its April 3 Emergency Use Authorization governing the use of non-NIOSH-approved, Chinese-manufactured filtering facepiece respirators for healthcare settings in the U.S. The change revokes authorization for several respirator models previously approved for emergency use. Read more.

Symptoms of stress. New CDC guidance for employees and healthcare personnel and first responders focuses on coping with job stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance is intended to help workers recognize the symptoms of stress, take steps to build resilience and manage job stress, and know where to go for help or more information.

Webinar and guidance address purchasing of respirators from other countries. As healthcare facilities in the United States face respirator shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic, some employers and local health departments are seeking to replenish supplies by purchasing respirators manufactured in other countries. But careful vetting is necessary to ensure these respirators are as protective as NIOSH-certified devices, according to new guidance released by CDC. Read more.

Transmission at a choir practice. A two-and-a-half-hour practice for a sixty-person choir held March 17 in Skagit County, Washington, resulted in 32 confirmed and 20 probable secondary cases of COVID-19, according to a new CDC report. The lack of social distancing and the act of singing likely contributed to the high transmission rate.

Vaporized hydrogen peroxide decontamination system gets emergency approval. On May 7, FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization (PDF) for the Duke Decontamination System, a method of decontaminating N95 filtering facepiece respirators with vaporized hydrogen peroxide.

Critical infrastructure sector response planning. CDC has released guidance intended to help employers in critical infrastructure sectors continue operations to the greatest extent possible during the global COVID-19 pandemic. The agency has recognized sixteen critical infrastructure sectors, including emergency services and healthcare, for which operations must be maintained for public health and safety as well as community well-being. Read more.