Food Worker and Establishment Guidance on COVID-19Download page as PDF
Many parts across the world and Washington are experiencing an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus. This virus can spread from person-to-person and the number of cases detected in the United States and many other countries is growing.
As new information emerges, please remind your community that the risk of COVID-19 is not at all connected with race, ethnicity, or nationality. Stigma will not help to fight the illness. Sharing accurate information during a time of heightened concern is one of the best things we can do to keep rumors and misinformation from spreading.
The following information for food workers and establishments is also available in Spanish, Russian, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), and Korean.
What is coronavirus?Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually cause mild respiratory illnesses such as the common cold. Some coronaviruses have caused more severe illness, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus that was not identified in humans before December 2019.
What are common symptoms of COVID-19?Signs and symptoms of infection with COVID-19 include fever (100.4°F or greater with an oral thermometer), cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus.
Some people who get COVID-19 may have only mild illness. However, the virus can also cause pneumonia, which may be severe.
People are encouraged to contact their medical provider if they have developed symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if they have traveled to an area with ongoing spread of the virus.
How does the virus spread?Infected people can spread COVID-19 through their respiratory secretions, such as when they cough or sneeze in close contact to others. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Other examples of close contact that may spread illness include kissing or hugging, sharing eating or drinking utensils, talking to someone nearby, and touching someone directly. Close contact does not include activities like walking by a person or briefly sitting across a waiting room or office.
While COVID-19 primarily spreads person-to-person, it may also be capable of spreading like some other coronaviruses through contact with a contaminated surface.
Prevention RecommendationsFood has not been identified as a likely source of COVID-19 infection at this time. However, it is important to follow current food safety standards to help protect workers and customers from COVID-19. In addition, expanding your current food safety practices will help slow the spread of respiratory viruses in the community, and help reduce working days lost due to illness.
Review Employee Health Policies and ProceduresEmployee health policies should prohibit food workers from working in food establishments while sick.
Connect with your local health department to ask any questions specific to your area.
Additional Answers to Food Safety QuestionsDoes coronavirus spread through food?It is unlikely, and there is no current evidence, that the novel virus is transmitted through food or water. History with previous outbreaks of coronavirus such as SARS and MERS suggest that people do not likely become infected with coronavirus through food. However, limited research on the new coronavirus indicates that it can be shed in stool. It is not known at this time whether the virus can make people sick after it has passed through the digestive tract.
While we don’t believe the novel virus can spread through food, we do know other germs can. We highly encourage people to practice routine food safety procedures to reduce risk:
Can a food worker who is symptom-free get tested? What if they’ve been asked to self-isolate for 14 days because they meet the definition of close contact to someone that might have COVID-19?At this time, we do not recommend testing for people without symptoms because it is hard to interpret negative results. If someone has been exposed but is not yet sick, it may just be too early to detect the virus. In addition, a negative result would not decrease the isolation period. If the local health authority or health care provider indicates isolation, please complete the full 14 days to help ensure we limit the spread of the virus in our community.
Additional ResourcesCoronavirus Retail Food Establishments Supply Chain Issues & Conservation Strategies
Novel Coronavirus Outbreak 2020, DOH
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), CDC
Resources for Workplaces and Employers, DOH
Coronavirus and Pandemic Preparedness for the Food Industry, FMI Food Industry Association
Coronavirus: What Can You Do? National Restaurant Association (PDF)
Interim Guidance for Business and Employers, CDC
Getting Your Workplace Ready for COVID-19, World Health Organization (PDF)
Guidance for Travelers, CDC
Hello Everyone. I hope you are all hanging in there. This overwhelmingly trying time is affecting every single humane on this earth! I do fear for our future. We closed every Subculture Location yesterday. We were forced to lay off 650 amazing, dedicated staff which are all really our extended families. Those 650 have families so this is severely impacting over 1,800 people we dearly care about. It certainly is the hardest day I have ever experienced in my business life. The only way I have been able to deal with this trauma is to only think about the next 24 hours. That and immerse myself into how perhaps we can make the best of an awful situation. We started out by assuring our extended Subculture family of 1,800 that we will provide them with at least 1 meal a day. That quickly grew as we heard from many charities that are being severely strained in providing meals to the needy. Along with the entire hospitality community that is for the most part not receiving any more paychecks.
We decided we will re-open Holweys and set up as a food distribution center. We will be proving free meals to several local charities, any laid off hospitality worker and of course our Subculture family. We will be open Today Saturday from 1pm to 6pm. We will be setting up a que so people do not have to get of there car. They can pull up and we will bring the meal to them. We are suggesting to just pop the trunk and we will place the meals in there unless they will be eaten right away and then roll down the window a bit and have at it. On the menu for today will be Howleys own Shepherd Pie, Ratatouilles from Hullabaloo, and a surprise from Dada. As a special bonus we were able to obtain some precious toilet paper from our supplier so we will be giving 1 roll of TP per car or individual order while it lasts (where the hell is all this TP going still boggles the mind!)
Thank you for every one of our loyal customers that has been over tipping this past week! For those of you who are still receiving a paycheck think about your favorite hospitality worker. They need your help even if its just some emotional support and words of gratitude. We will be open Sunday as well same hours. Our hope is to ramp this up quickly so we can feed a lot of our community in need. We can not wait for our government! This as will most disasters is going to be up to us in the private sector. Lets all work together. Ill be posting a daily menu and more ways you can help. We will need volunteers and funds to keep this going long term.
Be Safe, Try to remain positive (I know its hard! im struggling with it) think only 1 day ahead! Reach out to your friends or just even acquaintances and start chat groups. We need to have an outlet and people we can vent too. Some are stronger than others. This is the time for those that can handle crisis like this to step up and reach out to those that may be more vulnerable.. those without a large extended family, the loners, the downtrodden , you get it! Invite them over for dinner or a movie with your family!
Hope to see you all of you soon on the dance floor . I promise ill but your fist drink! hell ill probably buy all of them ill be so happy were back!
MArch 19th updates
March 19th, 2020
Hello Gang! Hang in there! We will get through this!
New health insurance info on resource page. Please read it. If you are staff of a closed operation PLEASE do not wait and file for UNEMPLOYMENT NOW. Link is below. The sooner you file the sooner you will get a check.
Thank you for everyone that responded to volunteer and for those that helped pack meals yesterday for Feed Palm Beach County! We will have updates very soon on our Howleys Food Distribution Center and how you can help. Please join the new FACEBOOK page. Sorry it changed.
Please check back often and FILL OUT THE SURVEY. We will use this information to figure out how to best help you. Hang in There! rodney
Check out our new Billboard on I95
Health care questions
The below news was made public as of today, 3/18/2020. I’ve highlighted the important parts below.
Please note – this is for our Fully Insured Clients.
Access to Testing and Medical Care
UnitedHealthcare will continue to waive costs for COVID-19 testing provided at approved locations in accordance with the CDC guidelines. In addition, we will waive copays, coinsurance and deductibles for visits associated with COVID-19 testing, whether the care is received in a physician’s office, an urgent care center or an emergency department. This coverage applies to Medicare Advantage and Medicaid members as well as our commercial members.
Access to Medication
Eligible UnitedHealthcare and OptumRx members needing help obtaining an early prescription refill can call the customer care number located on their medical ID card for assistance.
Access to Telehealth
To increase system access and flexibility when it is needed most, we are expanding our telehealth policies to make it easier for people to connect with their healthcare provider. People will have access to telehealth services in two ways:
Kristy Alchin l Strategic Account Executive
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