June 11, 2020

COVID-19 Weekly Roundup: Suit Against OSHA Dismissed, Research on Lockdown Effectiveness, and More

Here are the latest news briefings from The Synergist on COVID-19:

D.C. Appeals Court sides with OSHA on emergency temporary standard. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has rejected the AFL-CIO’s request for the court to compel OSHA to issue an emergency temporary standard to protect workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. OSHA and AFL-CIO both issued statements in response to the ruling.

Guidance for agriculture employers. New guidance from OSHA, CDC, and EPA includes recommendations and requirements for protecting agricultural workers and employees who handle pesticides during the COVID-19 pandemic. Joint interim guidance from OSHA and CDC is intended to address prevention and control of the spread of COVID-19 at agriculture work sites, where workers often share housing and transportation vehicles and have close contact to one another in fields and indoors. Shortages of personal protective equipment in the agricultural sector led EPA to issue separate temporary guidance regarding respiratory protection requirements for pesticide handlers.

Guidance for stockroom and loading dock workers. OSHA recommends (PDF) installing barriers where feasible to physically separate workers from customers, scheduling tasks such as stocking shelves during slow periods to minimize contact with the public, limiting the number of people who enter the store, and other safety measures.

OSHA publishes face mask FAQs. The agency addresses the differences between face coverings, surgical masks, and respirators; whether employers are required to provide cloth face coverings to workers; and other questions. Read more.

Research on nonpharmaceutical interventions. Two recent papers in Nature examine the effectiveness of school closures and lockdowns in 11 European countries on transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. The first paper uses a model to calculate from observed deaths to estimate transmission that occurred weeks earlier and finds that lockdowns had a large effect on reducing transmission. The second paper evaluates the effects of closures and restrictions in local areas in China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France, and the U.S., and estimates that these interventions averted approximately 530 million infections.

Quarantine and lockdown effective at Air Force base. A CDC report published June 5 found that a U.S. Air Force base significantly limited transmission of COVID-19 among cadets during basic training through nonpharmaceutical interventions such as quarantine and social distancing. Read more.

Study on blood types. A preprint study available on medRxiv has found that people with A-positive blood are at higher risk of respiratory failure from COVID-19 than people with other blood types.