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What the Current COVID-19 Status Means to Your Business

Key Points:

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss TAG’s Weekly Matrix, the status of COVID-19 Cases, and what that means. Read more below.
  • Do you want to know when different sectors of the food and agriculture world can be vaccinated? Food manufacturing versus food service versus food retail (grocery)? We have put together a spreadsheet for every state, divided by food-worker type that will be updated weekly. Find the latest update (from Monday March 08, 2021) here.
  • Are you eligible to receive a vaccine but can’t get an appointment? There is a new service, called Dr. B that allows individuals to be put on a standby list for leftover COVID-19 vaccines. Sign up here.
  • NYT reports that on Monday, Italy surpassed 100,000 reported coronavirus deaths and is facing a large influx of infections driven by new variants. Additionally, Greece has seen the highest daily total of cases (3,215 on Tuesday, in 24 hours) since its second lockdown.
  • Disneyland in California will reopen in late April in a limited capacity.
  • China has launched a new version of a COVID-19 “health certificate” that is accessed through WeChat for international travelers, a digital vaccine passport. This health certificate (either paper or digital version) will track a citizens’ medical history when traveling abroad or coming in. The US and EU are also planning similar things.
  • As we briefly discussed fake vaccines being shipped from China to South Africa, on Monday, VICE now reports that the EU is experiencing its own influx of fake vaccines with up to “a billion fake COVID-19 vaccines have[ing] been offered to EU countries”. Authorities are worried that stalled vaccination efforts throughout the EU will only further exacerbate the situation.
  • A recent MMRW finds that “obesity [with higher BMIs] increases the risk for severe COVID-19–associated illness”.
  • A recent NPR study finds that Instagram’s suggested posts to users, especially throughout the pandemic, were pointed towards COVID-19 falsehoods.

Recommendations for Industry

What the Current COVID-19 Status Means to Your Business

TAG’s weekly COVID-19 matrices continue to show a stability of cases, we are seeing a slight increase in the transmission rate. This is not necessarily an indication of a new wave of cases, as it could simply reflect the variants’ presence in the U.S., which have been seen to have higher transmission rates than the original strain. But even with a stabilization of national case rates, TAG continues to recommend maintaining all risk-reduction behaviors, including masks, distancing, handwashing, and surface cleaning – even in states where restrictions are being ended or relaxed.

If you are getting pushback from workers in these states, it may be helpful to cite CDC’s new guidance, which TAG supports, stating that fully vaccinated people may begin gathering in small groups with other fully vaccinated people, but until the vast majority of people are vaccinated, COVID-19 precautions should not be broadly lifted. “Until then, it is important that everyone continues to adhere to public health mitigation measures to protect the large number of people who remain unvaccinated.”  Current modeling indicates that we need at least 70-75% of the population vaccinated before we will significantly reduce the risk of transmission and achieve “herd immunity”.  As of today, about 10% of the US population has been vaccinated so we have some distance to go before reaching a high rate of vaccination that will allow us to safely return to a “new” post-pandemic normal.

TAG’s Weekly COVID-19 Matrices

Based on TAG’s matrices since last week:

  • The Government Stringency Index is 45 this week. It is higher than last week’s 43, indicating that there has been an increase in government stringencies. Eight (8) states’ (Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Oregon) businesses are in mixed opening stages. These states are indicated by an asterisk (*) in the matrix. No states’ businesses are closed completely.
  • Six (6) states are in the Highest-Risk Quadrant (Outbreak Index > 50). This is down from 8 of last week. States in the High and Highest-Risk Quadrants are Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Texas.
  • In Figure 1, this week, we compare the case rate/100K (Table 1) in the population to the percentage of a state’s population that has been vaccinated (with first and second doses). Table 2 and 3 compare last week and this week’s percentage of states’ populations that have received their first and second vaccinations, respectively.

[Figure 1]

[Table 1]

[Table 2]

[Table 3]

  • No states have a TPR ≥10% and a case rate ≥ 25/100K people (Table 4). This is down from 2 states last week. This indicates that testing may not be adequate to fully characterize the true severity of the outbreak in the states. On the other hand, 4 states have a TPR < 10% and a case rate≥ 25/100K people indicates adequate testing that is likely finding most symptomatic cases of illnesses.

[Table 4]

  • In Figure 2, we compare the case rate/100K in the population to the number of COVID-19 tests administered and changes in Test Positive Rates

[Figure 2]

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