Discovering Safety Protocols

Walmart, Amazon and other firms are developing safety protocols for the COVID workplace. Walmart, for example, will be doing temperature checks of its employees:

Walmart Blog: As the COVID-19 situation has evolved, we’ve decided to begin taking the temperatures of our associates as they report to work in stores, clubs and facilities, as well as asking them some basic health screening questions. We are in the process of sending infrared thermometers to all locations, which could take up to three weeks.

Any associate with a temperature of 100.0 degrees will be paid for reporting to work and asked to return home and seek medical treatment if necessary. The associate will not be able to return to work until they are fever-free for at least three days.

Many associates have already been taking their own temperatures at home, and we’re asking them to continue that practice as we start doing it on-site. And we’ll continue to ask associates to look out for other symptoms of the virus (coughing, feeling achy, difficulty breathing) and never come to work when they don’t feel well.

Our COVID-19 emergency leave policy allows associates to stay home if they have any COVID-19 related symptoms, concerns, illness or are quarantined – knowing that their jobs will be protected.

Amazon is even investing in their own testing labs.

Amazon Blog: A next step might be regular testing of all employees, including those showing no symptoms. Regular testing on a global scale across all industries would both help keep people safe and help get the economy back up and running. But, for this to work, we as a society would need vastly more testing capacity than is currently available. Unfortunately, today we live in a world of scarcity where COVID-19 testing is heavily rationed.

If every person, including people with no symptoms, could be tested regularly, it would make a huge difference in how we are all fighting this virus. Those who test positive could be quarantined and cared for, and everyone who tests negative could re-enter the economy with confidence.

Until we have an effective vaccine available in billions of doses, high-volume testing capacity would be of great help, but getting that done will take collective action by NGOs, companies, and governments.

For our part, we’ve begun the work of building incremental testing capacity. A team of Amazonians with a variety of skills – from research scientists and program managers to procurement specialists and software engineers – have moved from their normal day jobs onto a dedicated team to work on this initiative. We have begun assembling the equipment we need to build our first lab (photos below) and hope to start testing small numbers of our front line employees soon.

Actions and experiments like these will discover ways to work safely till we reach the vaccine era.

Comments

Excellent to hear that Amazon is getting into testing and creating capacity! Also good to hear that Walmart will be checking temperatures, though they might do better if they paid people with fevers to stay home instead of paying them for *reporting* to work.

Thank President Trump for marshaling the resources of the private sector while realizing the absolute failure of the CDC and FDA.

A quote from March 4 detailing how Trump was marshalling resources - “If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better, just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work, some of them go to work, but they get better, and then when you do have a death, like you’ve had in the state of Washington, like you had one in California, I believe you had one in New York," Trump said on “Hannity.”

It is getting ever harder for people to properly ignore all the lying facts that refuse to go away.

More attacks by the Fifth Columnists.

Quoting Trump accurately is now a sign of being a fifth columnist? Is there no contortion a Trump supporter is incapable of at this point?

Enough about China.

In the next seven months, how are you gon'na rationalize voting for China Joe Biden who #MeToo sexually assaulted Tara Reade (Thursday filed complaint with DC police)?

Rich you are getting more and more deranged these days, what gives? Light some tea candles. Enjoy a hot stone message. Do some aromatherapy. Remember, no matter how much you defend Trump he won't love you back.

Do you know how many deaths there were on March 4th? Sixteen, all in Washington state, probably from one nursing home (IIRC).

Actually 3285, according to www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/coronavirus-death-toll/ The pandemic was not exactly obscure back then, at least to anyone paying attention what was being globally reported.

Nice misdirection but Trump had already imposed a travel ban on China where most of the deaths had occurred.

Pointing to the global toll of a global pandemic is misdirection? And considering that 107 people had died in Italy by March 4, nice misdirection talking about China, to use your framing.

So Trump is now world president? Yes, it's misdirection.

Rich,

"Saad B. Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, told us he hasn’t seen any evidence to support the president’s claims. Previous studies of viruses with a reproduction number of 1.9 or higher, meaning the average number of other people one person infects, have shown the restrictions have to be very strict to have an effect, he said. Travel restrictions “can have an impact if you shut down 90% of all travel,” Omer said. But, “even then, it delays it a little bit but it doesn’t stop it.”

That doesn't excuse is lack of preparation, misdirection, claiming it was a hoax. etc.

Apropos of nothing, I once trolled Rich Berger on this site by pretending I was Paul Krugman replying to him, and he fell for it. Not saying Rich Berger is gullible or anything... or maybe I am (read: Trump supporter). Then again, Rich Berger could be trolling us all, and probably is.

Derailed

Have to agree that there was no need to bring up Trump when talking about what the American private sector is doing to finally respond to an ever growing pandemic.

>"Have to agree that there was no need to bring up Trump when there was good news to report."

Fixed it for you! Carry on!

Since when is Trump more important than the entire American private sector, which is the bedrock foundation of America's prosperity. That is not fixing, it is silly.

Will this persist into the next seasonal flu? Will this become the new norm? How will this change the idea of sick days, if there is a digital doctors' note that is both more directive and less available for 'sick outs'?

With a few (and only a few) exceptions, large grocery stores have not implemented a strategy to protect their workers (and customers) from the coronavirus. I visited a grocery store (not Walmart) last week and was shocked by what I saw, including young people (teenagers!) working as check-out clerks and baggers working close to customers without any protective gear (gloves, masks, etc.), only a dispenser of hand sanitizer. I'm not going back there.

In Québec, all counters are protected by full length Plexiglass shields. Staff have gloves. Entry is controlled, customers are limited, alleys are one way. Only card payment. What’s wrong with you people?

You people have tiny penises.

And, even more tiny intellects.

...are why the MR comment section has its sterling reputation.

Our local Walmart has instituted one-way aisles. Simple.

Simple but effective. The end of the aisles are wider, allowing shoppers to pass more than six feet apart. It's the checkout that's a problem. I was told by the checkout clerk that the store would be installing plastic shields between the clerk and shoppers, but it has not been implemented. A good idea, one that my bank implemented early on.

The only bank branches open in my area (Queens, NYC and western Nassau County) are those with bulletproof glass partitions and slides for papers. I still avoid them like the plague - not a metaphor, anymore.

There is hope. After the 1918/1919 flu pandemic came the Roaring Twenties,

The rising stock market in the 1920s was fueled in large part by a spike in inequality, as those with assets looked to the rising prices for stocks for a return that did not reflect the level of rising earnings. Of course, the house of cards collapsed. Just like the house of cards leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. What we have in this crisis is a combination of rising inequality and a pandemic, a deadly combination. Recovery will be long and painful.

After we kill off all the Boomers, we will have the Roaring Twenty-Twenties.

My Walmart checkout manager theory and practice, all at once. Congestion management is the key to general economics also.

https://thehill.com/homenews/news/492347-boston-suburb-implements-one-way-sidewalks-to-encourage-social-distancing
Boston suburb implements one-way sidewalks to encourage social distancing efforts
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Nice catch, I never would have thought of this. I go out, and walk in the middle of residential streets, avoid sidewalks altogether.

the current study being forwarded around claims that slipstreams are the most worrisome. so following too close is a problem too

Finally... taking temperatures has been a standard procedure for nearly 4 months & these 2 Mega/Corps have now seen the light. Have they not also noticed that historically every other type of viral infection has come with a fever symptom. Incredible short supply of thinking going on in these & many other similar 'essential' service operations. The fact is that every person - no exceptions - should be allowed into these environments where people-to-people interactions are possible without any test, fever is a good start. IF the Gov't/Health Secretary Azar could find an immediate & efficient method for paying his cronies/past employers at Big Pharma to develop tests & vaccines we might not have to deal with this for the next 3 or 4 years...…..

We had an event in one of our pharmacies in Panama. A 49-years old female employee came last Friday with a bit of fever. We immediately got her tested by a government lab and she turned out positive. It was pretty efficient for what I am used to expect from public entities.

Our procedure is that all the other employees of the pharmacy (about a dozen) were sent home in a 2-weeks quarantine, followed daily by a doctor calling them 1-2 times per day. The pharmacy was thoroughly cleaned and staffed the day later with employees of other pharmacies.

The lady had a couple of pretty rough days (up to 41 degrees Celsius), but she is much better now. Remarkably, after one week no other employee has shown symptoms. It could still happen, because apparently the virus might incubate up to two weeks, but everyday that passes the chances are lower. This is surprising because they work pretty close all day, and the lady should have been shedding virus for maybe two full days, before the first symptom appeared. She was wearing a mask while working of course, but in a air-conditioned pharmacy the virus should have been resilient in most of the surfaces, and even if we routinely disinfect everything every hour, the opportunities for contagion should have been plentiful. Maybe we got lucky, or maybe this virus is not so contagious as they say. Of course, it is only a data point.

I have been tallying the anecdotes. Current score is 50% claim virus is harmless unless you french kiss; 50% say it leaps from person to person like a deranged deer tick

It indeed seems so, George. I think it is because those that talk the most have an agenda, either because they want to increase their power (bureaucrats, politicians) or because they follow whatever their politicians say, like most of the press.

People in business in general is apolitical. We care about making more money, that definitely does not include to send employees to the slaughterhouse, but neither to negate that there are always trade-offs. For example, we put a plexiglass barrier between the clients and our employees in all the pharmacies we own, an investment of a few hundreds of thousands dollars. Was it a good investment? It did help the employees, that felt we care about them, but it is really useful from a contagion point of view? Would it have been better to spend that money in other ways, for example to keep all the over-50 employees fully-paid but at home until the emergency is over, and giving the others a 30% temporary increase to compensate for the risk? We can just guess, in the absence of reliable data.

Surely the total politicization of the issue does not help the already deep dearth of information.

Let's not pretend Amazon is some kind of model citizen. Workers there and at Amazon's other division Whole Foods have been striking for protective gear for weeks now. If you think workers are being silly, remember that they handle your food. You want them to wear to be properly equipped. Does this blog really fall for corporate PR spin this easily?

Amazon deserves a love letter now and again to balance your ilk's constant carping.

Having raised my child, I know that shaming doesn't work. Neither does guilt (the other religion's way of modifying/conforming behavior). If shaming and guilt worked, banks would not be rapacious, and they are. Their performance in the PPP loan program deserves shaming and guilt; alas, it hasn't and won't work with bankers. They are beyond repair. So why did Congress choose to use the least responsible industry to implement the PPP program? It's not as though the industry wanted the assignment. Congress, like the rest of America (including many economists), has a childish naivete about business.

That corporate America had started this work in mid-March, instead of forbidding employees from wearing their own gloves and masks, much less providing them to their workforce. "For weeks, workers have been begging to wear masks when showing up for work at retailers like Walmart and Target, as well as at fast-food chains like McDonald's and Dunkin'.

Many companies have resisted providing masks or allowing employees to wear masks on the job, with some citing the CDC's recommendations. This week, some of the biggest employers in the country began to change their stances." www.businessinsider.com/walmart-mcdonalds-target-shift-mask-policies-amid-coronavirus-2020-4?r=DE&IR=T

The companies are not being forced into action simply because of the FDA getting involved and forcing them to, because that would clearly be governmental overreach.

'Nearly one month after President Trump declared the coronavirus a national emergency, and three weeks before he would like to reopen much of the country, the Food and Drug Administration has announced a comprehensive list of best practices to protect workers and consumers in the essential businesses that are feeding Americans during a pandemic when everyone is supposed to keep their distance.

Many of the guidelines reiterate practices that are already in place or considered a routine part of the food business — social distancing, no facial touching, standard food-safety procedures — but they also emphasize what companies should do to protect employees and maintain a safe workplace during the ongoing outbreak. The FDA suggests employers assess workers’ health before they start a shift, including temperature checks. Employees should wear masks, maintain six feet of separation from co-workers and assess their own health throughout the day.'

In her column this morning, Cowen's friend Megan McArdle revealed that her father has covid-19, which he (along with many others) acquired in a cardiac rehab facility. McArdle (a foodie) weaves into the revelation a story about her banana bread. Bravo! This pandemic will be an apocalypse (which means a revelation) for many, for those willing to open their eyes to see. Yesterday, Good Friday, I included in my comments references to suffering and the passion (suffering) of the Messiah. I can't say that I understand how a loving God would allow so much suffering in the world, and in families like the McArdle family. Tomorrow, Easter, Christians will celebrate Jesus's triumph over death. Triumph over death? How about triumph over suffering.

Amazon and Walmart are late to these procedures. Small manufacturing companies I work with have been doing temperature checks since early March and wearing face masks since mid/late March. They have also been staggering shifts, using health checklists, spreading employees out, and many other small changes.

Good to see the big guys finally on board.

The shortage of face masks (other than makeshift bandana type stuff) has surely slowed this trend down, as has the previous CDC recommendation against the public wearing face masks. I don’t think you can blame a large company for going along with the recommendations of the public health authorities.

An on-site test, where possible, will protect employees and the community they serve. It could, in the long run, decongest hospital wards, lead to fewer deaths (especially those of health workers), and reduce the need for emergency response. The brutal truth is that not knowing one's status is worse than having the disease. Many of my friends are so scared a few are reversing their will while others are living as if they are already dead and buried. A readily available comprehensive test is the way to go. It will give life and control and confidence to many people.

Kudos to Amazon and Walmart for putting the community first before profits.

Trump: "Its a hoax"

Another big business failure in the coronavirus crisis, this time a large hospital company based in Tennessee with hospitals in many parts of the country including Pennsylvania: https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/04/11/amid-chaos-anguished-nurses-say-pennsylvania-hospital-risked-infecting-cancer-patients-babies-staff/

NextDoor never stands still, and it went from folks being afraid to go shop for their own groceries and takeout dinners (instead sending someone else in their stead, on a virtually one-to-one basis as many of the young folks laid off are now driving for Favor, etc.) to - now being alarmed enough to post, upon looking out the window and observing that the Amazon driver had touched their package.

I guess this is how people learn to love robots.

https://www.knowablemagazine.org/article/health-disease/2020/what-cytokine-storm

What is a cytokine storm?
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They know why it kills some and leaves others with the common cold. Some of us have immune systems that over react. But they know how to treat this condition, almost. But it is tricky to catch the storm in time.

Good explainer, thanks.

Meanwhile, it is next to impossible now not to regard the coronavirus pandemic as "the perfection of globalization".

Wonderful job, global elites, wonderful job.

Let's not forget the tireless work of those who promote denser and denser and denser urban living! Nice going, geniuses!

Our global elites surely deserve academic and professional journals and curricula in "Progress Studies" for permitting or promoting the global pandemic.

Maybe we can have restaurants, grocery stores and hotels compete by claiming they have had their staffs cleared of or tested for covid.

Public transportation should provide mask, hand sanitizers, etc.

Would you go to a resort which boasted they checked and tested employees, made the room available to you after being empty for three days, and delivered your food to a picnic table outdoors.

Maybe we will have competition for safety and best practices without regulation. Maybe.

Keeping public transportation sanitized, and maintaining social distancing, is essentially impossible.

How long does an Uber car have to go between riders to be accepted as safe?

Let's try. Some of this is an empirical exercise, not a fixed belief.

Also, there are other societies, such as Korea, which have public transportation, higher density, etc. that do better.

Is that a miracle, or is it because of practices they use.

You don’t have to get down to zero transmission, just down to where each infected person averages giving the infection to less than one additional person. Driving the uber car with the windows open, having driver and passenger wear a mask, and lysoling the backseat out between customers might at least lower the risk of transmission.

I can't think of any two American companies more beholden to China than Amazon and Walmart. They have sold out their country to Red China

Did you ever go to a small retailer and look at where the products on the shelf came from?

https://apnews.com/5c0dc863f214d32a53c6280c31cf3f56
To Poor’s dismay, the experimental treatment bought the woman only a few more days of life. A sudden, different complication killed her on Friday.

But last weekend, Poor’s team tested the new clot-fighting approach in four additional severely ill patients. One didn’t survive, dying of cardiac arrest from a massive blood clot in his heart.

The rest saw improvement in oxygen levels and shock. As of Friday, three remained on ventilators but were doing better, especially one who had been treated soon after her lungs failed. In a new report, Poor called for urgent study of whether abnormal clotting drives at least some people’s deterioration, even as his own hospital updated treatment advice for its sickest patients.

Others are onto the same lead. Specialists at the University of Colorado and Harvard recently published a similar tPA research call, and cited three additional cases where it was tried as hospitals in Colorado and Massachusetts prepare for a study.
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They are dealing with Cytokine storm. This doctor trying blood thinners and blood declotting. Here is the Wiki symptoms. It is all about the immunity system going wild:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cytokine_release_syndrome

Symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, fast breathing, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, seizures, headache, confusion, delirium, hallucinations, tremor, and loss of coordination.[4]

Lab tests and clinical monitoring show low blood oxygen, widened pulse pressure, increased cardiac output (early), potentially diminished cardiac output (late), high levels of nitrogen compounds in the blood, elevated D-dimer, elevated transaminases, factor I deficiency and excessive bleeding, higher-than-normal level of bilirubin.[4][6]

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They think they can stop this phase , and with the number of dying patients, they have a license to try known therapies.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3368378/

Cytokine Storm Syndromes (CSS) are a group of disorders representing a variety of inflammatory etiologies with the final common result of overwhelming systemic inflammation, hemodynamic instability, multiple organ dysfunction, and potentially death. The hemophagocytic syndromes hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) and macrophage activation syndrome (MAS) represent two clinically similar CSS with an unknown degree of pathoetiologic overlap.
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Driven by macrophages which are, according to Wiki:

Macrophages (abbreviated as Mφ or MΦ) (Greek: big eaters, from Greek μακρός (makrós) = large, φαγεῖν (phagein) = to eat) are a type of white blood cell of the immune system, that engulfs and digests cellular debris, foreign substances, microbes, cancer cells, and anything else that does not have the type of proteins specific to healthy body cells on its surface[2] in a process called phagocytosis.
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There are pre-disposition issues:
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Conventional Immunodeficiencies
Sepsis being quite common among otherwise immunologically normal hosts, it is easy to forget that there are likely hundreds of genetic and epigenetic risk factors for the development of sepsis. Patients with immunodeficiencies should be considered at risk for CSS by virtue of their inability to effectively clear the proinflammatory elements of an infection. Persistent infection provides a rich source of both antigen and adjuvant that, as the infection worsens, can quickly overwhelm the body’s ability to regulate inflammation.
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So this is starting to explain the sudden respiratory failure.
Macrophage Activation Syndrome is what this is about, but we do not know all the pathways, this was ongoing research before the pandemic. Hence, a number of blood tests will be ambiguous and they have relied on symptomatic.

But, we will figure this out in about a month, I figure, since all the macrophage treatments are available, and the number of dying patients sufficient to try the combinations.

In making a useful "biosecurity plan", you have to look at all transmission methods. Checking temperature is only one thing and asymptomatic infected employees can infect others or surfaces etc. that can infected others' days later.

Putting face masks on all employees will help reduce spread from the asymptomatic carriers, but they can still infect their clothing and hands. However, the issue of sanitation of the face masks between uses becomes an issue as the virus remains active on and in the mask surfaces.

Just heating masks and outer clothing to 60ºC (140º) for 30 minutes will inactive this virus making masks safe for reuse by the same person. With two masks and glove sets cycling through an oven, the protection is dramatically increased. For more details:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/lvmhxl4nyybprsi/Protection%20in%20the%20Covid-19%20era%20V4.pdf?dl=0

Unmentioned are the problems with using a surface temperature reading to determine internal (core) temperature. I used an IR gun thermometer for years. The units have various problems but the most obvious is that what they read will be influenced by skin color, with darker pigmentation causing the gun to read higher temperatures. And of course you've got the variance in temperature due to the individual's 'set point', time of day, activity level, etc. If I was living on the edge, and needed to work, I'd be sure to pop some aspirin (etc.) 90 minutes (or so) before I checked into work. I don't recollect the exact numbers now, but a skin-IR measurement (when done correctly, which means on the temporal artery on the temple (and not between the eyebrows)) are substantially LESS than oral (anal, etc.). I wonder about other ways to game the device...

This is of course good. And it would be good if some holdover policies reduced cold and flu from here on out. That has to increase the gross national happiness, right?

At least I assume. I do feel extra especially good the day after I get over a cold. Does that make it worth it?

Not sure I like the sound of that "cared for"

Should we not establish a scheme where workers are paid from a fund different from the company for their 3 days off? Second order here, Amazon and Walmart can afford to pay people for 3 days. Smaller outfits will be pressured to not do so. Competitive advantage then will be for those smaller outfits to either take business from Amazon/Walmart or Amazon/Walmart will start using those smaller outfits as 'independent contractors'.

Or do we just let Amazon and Walmart run 99% of all retail operations worldwide from now until the sun swallows the earth?

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