3/24/20 COVID-19 Brief: All. Together. Now.

coronavirus covid-19 update updates sanitize disinfect sanitizer

The WorkSTEPS team continues to carefully track what is happening with the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Message on COVID-19 from WorkSTEPS Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ben Hoffman:

All. Together. Now.

Today’s brief features some hopeful news about the development of vaccines, the potential efficacy of some treatment regimens, and the supplies of respirators to protect health care personnel.

These hopeful items meet their match in numbers that highlight the scope of the challenge before us. Specifically, health officials in Italy reported nearly 800 deaths on Saturday alone. Italy’s numbers are particularly relevant for the US, where we’ve experienced a similar rate of infection. New York is now considered the US epicenter, with nearly 21,000 cases and 157 deaths so far.

What is increasingly clear is that to slow the spread of the virus we need to reduce human contact, including contact with infected surfaces. Companies have a role to play. Some recommendations:

  • Disinfect: New evidence shows that SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 -  survives on plastic surfaces for up to 72hours. Use this video to educate employees about the importance of cleaning protocols.
  • Stress Personal Hygiene: Educate employees and provide take-home materials stressing CDC-recommended practices like frequent hand washing.
  • Encourage Compliance with State/Local Restrictions: More states are implementing tighter restrictions to reduce human contact. You’ve likely seen polls that show some people are taking COVID-19 seriously, while others are not. Employers have an opportunity to educate employees on the reality of the situation, the importance of minimizing human contact, and to encourage compliance with restrictions.

Flattening the curve will require more than some of us doing some of the right things; it will require all of us, working together with urgency. All. Together. Now.

Dr. Ben Hoffman, MD, MPH
Chief Medical Officer, WorkSTEPS

Click here for more info on our Coronavirus Medical Hotline for Employers & Employees


Area Reported Cases Deaths Recovered
Global 368,948 16,307 101,069
United States 41,538 501 187

On Saturday, Italian officials reported 793 additional deaths, by far the largest single-day increase so far. Italy has surpassed China as the country with the highest death toll, becoming the epicenter of a shifting pandemic. New York has become the epicenter in the US with 20,875 cases and 157 deaths. US Coronavirus Cases

The first vaccine trial has begun just 60 days after the genetic sequence of the virus was shared by China. WHO and its partners are organizing a large international study, called the Solidarity Trial, in many countries to compare different treatments. WHO Situation Report-60

Researchers have cloned and identified SARS-CoV-2 human proteins as targets for drug therapy. Sixty-six protein targets and sixty-nine existing FDA medications specific to the targets were identified. These ranged from metformin to antivirals. The difficulty now is to identify which drugs work the best at combating the virus. SARS-CoV-2 Study

John’s Hopkins University researchers are advocating Passive Antibody Therapy (PAT) to prevent infection and treat COVID-19 patients. PAT uses serum containing antibodies to the virus from recovered patients to infuse into people to prevent and to treat the population. JCI Study

Despite its small sample size, their data shows that hydroxychloroquine treatment is significantly associated with viral load reduction/disappearance in COVID-19 patients and its effect is reinforced by azithromycin.

Doctor groups are recommending testing and isolation for people who lose their ability to smell and taste, even if they have no other symptoms. Anosmia, the loss of sense of smell, and ageusia, an accompanying diminished sense of taste, have emerged as peculiar telltale signs of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and possible markers of infection.

NY Times Article


US borders with Canada and Mexico are now closed to nonessential travel.

Public health departments/CDC no longer recommend testing for mildly symptomatic persons in the community. Tests are being limited to high risk individuals: >60 years old, immunocompromised, health care workers. These patients are now considered “presumptive positive” if they have an upper respiratory infection and negative Flu test.

CDC recommendation for Testing:

Priorities for testing may include:

  • Hospitalized patients who have signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 in order to inform decisions related to infection control.
  • Other symptomatic individuals such as older adults and individuals with chronic medical conditions and/or an immunocompromised state that may put them at higher risk for poor outcomes (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, receiving immunosuppressive medications, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease).
  • Any persons including healthcare personnel, who within 14 days of symptom onset had close contact with a suspect or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient, or who have a history of travel from affected geographic areas within 14 days of their symptom onset.

CDC Article

Decontaminating surfaces:

Here’s how long the COVID-19 virus adheres on varied surfaces:

  • Plastic: Significant virus amount detectable up to 72 hours and decreases from there.
  • Stainless steel: Viral amount decreases after just 4 hours, becoming undetectable by about 48 hours.
  • Copper: Undetectable by 8 hours.
  • Cardboard: Undetectable by 48 hours.

Take away message:  Consistent frequent decontamination of frequently used common areas, workspaces, like work equipment, entry ways, doorknobs, railings, counter-tops, bathrooms, electronic equipment, etc. Thoroughly wash your hands after touching surfaces that anyone else might have touched or don’t touch them in the first place. STAT Article

3M CEO announces 500,000 respirators are being shipped to critically impacted areas. 3M has increased its production capacity and expanded its global capacity anticipating 2 billion respirators within the next 12 months. 3M Press Release

The weight of the evidence suggests that only under very limited conditions can the new coronavirus exist as an aerosol — a physics term meaning a liquid or solid (the virus) suspended in a gas (like air). Therefore, researchers conclude that aerosol transmission is not likely driving the pandemic.

The CDC contradicts aerosolization as a major transmission route.  The fact still remains that we are uncertain of the primary transmission route of COVID-19.

STAT Article

States increase public restrictions:

  • Delaware: Governor John Carney ordered residents to stay at home and closed nonessential businesses in the state starting Tuesday at 8 a.m.
  • Kentucky: Governor Andy Beshear ordered nonessential businesses to close
  • Louisiana: Governor John Bel Edwards imposed a statewide stay-at-home order, effective 5 p.m. Monday. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell directed residents to stay at home beginning Friday.
  • Ohio: will impose a statewide stay-at-home mandate, effective 11:59 p.m. Monday, Governor Mike DeWine announced.
  • Philadelphia: became the latest city to order its residents to stay at home, a mandate that went into effect at 8 a.m. Monday and exempts activities like buying groceries and medicine, seeking medical care and exercising.
  • Missouri: two largest cities issued stay-at-home orders Saturday. St. Louis' mandate, which also applies to St. Louis County, begins Monday, and the one for Kansas City and its metro area goes into effect Tuesday.
  • Colorado: San Miguel County is under a shelter-in-place order until April 3.
  • Georgia: Athens-Clarke County, is under a shelter-in-place order until April 7.
  • Idaho: Blaine County is under a shelter-in-place order.

USA Today Article


President Trump elected to not use his authority to commandeer private industry to produce medical supplies, counting instead on a market-driven response.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York appealed on Sunday for the federal government to take over distribution of critical goods.

Just released by PwC, COVID-19 CFO Pulse Survey: What finance leaders are focused on reveals how chief financial officers (CFOs) and finance executives in the US and Mexico plan to react to the COVID-19 outbreak and what business and economic impacts they anticipate in the coming weeks and months. Fifty finance leaders weighed in:

The potential for COVID-19 to lead to a global economic downturn is the top concern for finance leaders in the US and Mexico. However, 90% of finance leaders say their business would return to normal in less than three months if COVID-19 were to end immediately.

Other key findings include:

  • All finance leaders say their business is experiencing some impact as a result of coronavirus
  • 54% of respondents say the outbreak has the potential for “significant” impact to business operations
  • 58% expect a decrease in their company’s revenue and/or profits this year
  • 34% say impact has been limited to specific regions, but that they are monitoring developments closely
  • Just 14% of finance leaders reported that their company is not considering any financial actions as a result of COVID-19
  • Only 30% are considering supply chain changes
  • 80% indicated that a potential global recession rated among their top-three concerns with respect to COVID-19
  • 48% of finance leaders expect to change disclosure

The complete survey results can be found here.

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