A message from the Clinic: Taking a much-needed break? Get back to work safely

August 21, 2020
By Marcy Shortuse

BY DR LAUREN HANA – A lot of questions have come up in the last few months about dealing with   COVID-19 illness, symptoms or exposures involving individuals in the workplace or elsewhere. This prompted the post of relevant information on these topics on the Boca Grande Health Clinic website at BGHC.org. An additional question more recently has been how a business should handle a return to work for an employee who has traveled or gone on vacation.

Let me say first that any governmental rules take precedence. For instance, Governor DeSantis’ executive order in March required anyone entering Florida from New York, New Jersey or Connecticut to quarantine for 14 days. This order was just recently lifted on August 6.  International travel may have quarantine restrictions in place by federal or state authorities on return to the U.S.

I would also note that nonessential travel continues to be discouraged during a global pandemic.  However, it would be hard to argue that getting away and taking a break would not be considered essential to everyone’s mental health and sanity at this point!

I spoke about 6 weeks ago with a friend who remembered reading an article in a prominent newspaper that likened calculating COVID-19 risk to counting Weight Watchers points, and I thought that was a good way to think about analyzing risk: in “exposure points.” She noted that she prefers to spend her “exposure points” on her family. So, if she wanted to spend time with her grandkids, she might stock up on groceries so she could skip a trip to the grocery store that week. Or she could put off a trip to the salon to get her hair or nails done for two more weeks to allow for family time instead.

The following risk tool is what the BGHC is using to help employees safely return to work. It is directed at healthcare workers and can be used as a guide, but each individual business should make modifications as appropriate for their particular situation.

Return To Work After Non-essential Travel Risk Tool

Method of Travel:

Air= 2

Car= 1

Location(s) visited:

Hot= 3

Medium= 2

Not= 1

Potential Exposures

High Risk= 3 (close contact for 15 minutes or more or repeated contact, EITHER you OR your contact NOT wearing mask)

Low Risk= 1 (Masks worn by both you and your contact, hands washed, limited exposure time, distancing practiced)

              ________     TOTAL

0-4 POINTS: Follow low-risk exposure protocol

5 OR MORE POINTS: Follow high-risk exposure protocol

Definitions:

Low risk protocol= no restriction from work, self-monitoring for symptoms for 14 days.

High risk protocol: Restrict from work/work from home, active monitoring for symptoms by supervisor for 14 days (Self-monitoring and Active monitoring log sheets can also be found on our website at BGHC.org).

I use the rolling seven-day average percent positivity for the travel destination. This information can be found on each State’s Department of Health website, at least by county and sometimes even by zip code.

“Hot” spot = 15 percent or higher positivity rate

“Medium”  = 11-14 percent positivity rate

“Not” hot spot  = 10 percent and under positivity rate

Close Contact = within 6 feet

Three examples:

• Mike went camping with his family in Birchwood, Wisconsin, August 1- August 14, 2020.

They drove a rented RV. He was not in close contact with anyone outside of his household. Wisconsin has a statewide mask mandate so everyone was required to wear a mask. The rolling 7 day average positivity rate for Washburn County Wisconsin is 0.4 percent.

Mike’s total score is 1 + 1 + 1 = 3. So he will return to work and self-monitor for any symptoms for 14 days and return his completed log to his employer and immediately report development of any symptoms.

Another example:

Lisa went to Key West, Florida, to celebrate her birthday with her family.

They took the Key West Express.  Monroe County has a mask mandate and everyone on the boat and on land in Keys is required to wear a mask. She remarks that police were even out on the streets enforcing the mandate. She always wore her mask and was not in close contact with anyone without a mask. The rolling 7 day average positivity in Monroe County in Florida is 12%.

Lisa’s total score is 1 + 2 + 1 = 4. So she will return to work and self-monitor for any symptoms for 14 days and return her completed log to her employer and immediately report development of any symptoms.

A third example: Jessa went to Las Vegas for a bachelorette party. When she arrived at the airport in Las Vegas, she met up with the bride-to-be and 9 more of her friends that also flew to Las Vegas from California, Arizona, Illinois and New Mexico. They had not seen each other in “ages” and ate out at restaurants, drank and basically “threw caution to the wind”.  Sometimes they wore masks but not always and to save money, they all shared 2 hotel rooms. The rolling 7 day average positivity in Las Vegas, Nevada, is 16%.

Jessa’s total score is 2 + 3 + 3 = 8. So she will be restricted from returning to on-site work and work from home for 14 days while being actively monitored daily by her supervisor. She will immediately report development of any symptoms to her supervisor.

(Disclaimer: The individuals, their trips and the actual percent positivity for the locations mentioned in the examples above are fictitious and only used to illustrate the point of the risk tool.)

Obviously, these examples are fairly clear cut and real life situations will all be unique. The bottom line is; we all have to continue to encourage our employees to make smart choices, remember that the process remains based on honesty and trust and that there is really no activity that has ZERO risk. Stay well!

Dr. Lauren Hana is a physician at the Boca Grande Health Clinic.

A big THANK YOU to all the businesses and organizations listed below, as well as to the 622 and counting community members that have “taken the BG pledge” to do their best to keep Boca Grande healthy and safe!

Businesses who signed the BG Pledge

Banyan Tree Pilates and yoga

Bella Vida Boca Grande

Boca Grande North HOA

Boca Grande Club and BGC HOA

Boca Bay Associations

Boca Bay HOA

Boca Bay Pass Club

Boca Beacon

Boca Blooms

Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce

Boca Grande Fire Department

Boca Grande Health Clinic

Boca Grande Health Clinic Foundation

Boca Grande HOA, Inc

Boca Grande Isles POA

Boca Grande Marina

Boca Grande Men’s Club

Boca Grande North Condo Assoc

Boca Grande Preschool

Boca Grande Realty Advisors, LLC

Boca Grande Resort/Palmetto Inn

Boca Grande Travel

Boca Grande Woman’s Club

Charlotte Heart and Vascular Institute

Courtyard Hair ETC.

Englewood Bank & Trust

Friends of Boca Grande Community Center

Fugates

Gasparilla Outfitters

Giancinti Contracting, Inc.

GIBA

GICIA

Gilchrist Interiors

GIWA

Grande Aire

Grande Property Services (Boca Grande Isles and Gulf Shores North POA’s)

Grande Quay HOA

Gulf Shores North POA

Gulf to Bay Sothebys Realty

Hudson’s Grocery

Island dog boutique and supply co

Italiano Insurance

J.McLaughlin

James Griffith Salon at the Gasparilla Inn & Club

Kappy’s Market

Made to Inspire

McHugh Porter Builders

Michael P. Haymans Attorney At Law, P.A.

Michael Sanders and Company

Miller’s Dockside

Miravi Palms

Our Lady of Mercy Parish

Paradise Exclusive Real Estate

Parsley Baldwin Real Estate

Peterson Property Management

Pink Pony

Royal Palm Players

Scarpa’s Coastal

Seawatch HOA

Special Effects of Boca Grande, Inc.

The BRC Group, LLC and Boca Grande Vacations

The Gasparilla Inn

The Island School

The Johann Fust Library Foundation

The Loose Caboose

The Seale Family, Inc

The Sun Porch

The Temptation

Third Street Bistro

Uncle Henry’s Marina Assoc.

VenWood Awards Inc.

Whidden’s Marina

Yusk Construction

Touch-free hand sanitizer machines are still available, along with face masks and no-contact thermometers, for any business or organization that has signed the pledge. Please email requests to

cannon@bghc- foundation.com for more information or to schedule pick up or delivery time.

We are in this together and together we can make a difference!
Thank you from 411 Island Community Coalition, supporting the Boca Grande community through education, awareness and cooperation.