COVID-19 Updates Newsletter

COVID Rates Have Plateaued, May Rise. Don’t Relax Your Protections!

Key Points: In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the flattened rate of COVID transmission increasing the urgency to maintain…

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COVID Rates Have Plateaued, May Rise. Don’t Relax Your Protections!
J&J Vaccine Authorized & Rolling Out

J&J Vaccine Authorized & Rolling Out

Key Points: In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss FDA’s issuance of an EUA for the J&J Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine…

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J&J Vaccine Review (and authorization?) Coming Today

J&J Vaccine Review (and authorization?) Coming Today Key Points: In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the J&J vaccine being…

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J&J Vaccine Review (and authorization?) Coming Today
Post-Vaccine Symptomatic Return to Work

Post-Vaccine Symptomatic Return to Work

Key Points: In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss post-vaccine symptomatic return to work for those receiving the vaccine and…

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COVID-19 Vaccine Progress and Education

Key Points: In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the current status of vaccinations across the U.S. and the importance…

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COVID-19 Vaccine Progress and Education
Why Office Mask Wearing Is Still Essential

Why Office Mask Wearing Is Still Essential

Key Points: In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the continued need for mask wearing in offices. Read More. FDA…

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TAG’s COVID-19 Risk Matrix Confirms Downward Trend

Key Points: In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the TAG COVID-19 Risk Matrix showing that cases and case rates…

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TAG’s COVID-19 Risk Matrix Confirms Downward Trend
COVID-19 Variants Raise Questions

COVID-19 Variants Raise Questions

Key Points: In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss COVID-19 variants Identified around the world continuing to raise questions, those…

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Layered Masks & COVID-19 Vaccination Update

Key Points: In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss new recommendations from CDC for masks and quarantining vaccinated persons. Read…

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Layered Masks & COVID-19 Vaccination Update
U.S. Continues Downward COVID-19 Trend – But Awaits Potential Variant Impacts

U.S. Continues Downward COVID-19 Trend – But Awaits Potential Variant Impacts

Key Points: In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the TAG Risk Matrix and potential variant impact on the current…

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COVID-19 Vaccinations & Protective Behaviors

Key Points: In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the importance of businesses staying updated on vaccine availability for employees…

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COVID-19 Vaccinations & Protective Behaviors
COVID-19 Post-Vaccination Symptom Protocols

COVID-19 Post-Vaccination Symptom Protocols

Key Points: In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss what to do if a person exhibits symptoms after receiving the…

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COVID-19 Trends are Encouraging, but Be Aware of Upsets. TAG Risk Matrix

Key Points: In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss TAG’s COVID Risk Matrix and some encouraging trends. Read more here.…

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COVID-19 Trends are Encouraging, but Be Aware of Upsets.  TAG Risk Matrix
OSHA’s New COVID-19 Protection Guidance Document

OSHA’s New COVID-19 Protection Guidance Document

Key Points: In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss OSHA’s new COVID-19 protection guidance document – and what it means…

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Determining Your Employee Vaccination Strategy

Key Points Points: Today, we discuss Determining Your Employee Vaccination Strategy in the Recommendations for Industry. The first two cases…

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Determining Your Employee Vaccination Strategy
TAG U.S. Risk Matrix and Masking

TAG U.S. Risk Matrix and Masking

Key Points: In today’s Recommendations for industry, we discuss this week’s Risk Matrices and address the issue of wearing two…

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TAG COVID-19 Newsletter Archive

This page is updated daily and contains Key Points to note fromTAG's COVID-19 daily newsletter and updates.

January 25, 2021

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the new administration’s federal strategy for COVID-19 worker protections.

  • On Thursday, The White House released a new Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety, which outlines actions the federal government must take to reduce the risk that workers may contract COVID-19 in the workplace. Actions include “partnering with state and local governments to better protect public employees; enforcing worker health and safety requirements; and pushing for additional resources to help employers protect employees.”

  • CDC has tweaked recommendations for the second dose of COVID-19 vaccinations (without data) to note that in extreme circumstances, the second dose can be another vaccine. TAG encourages employers to work with public health authorities to find a consistent and reliable source of vaccines so that this practice isn’t necessary.

  • Bharat Biotech’s BBV152 COVID-19 Phase 1 vaccine data “shows it is safe and immune-producing.”

  • A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows that despite the push to get people vaccinated, 6 of 10 U.S. adults don’t know when they’ll get the COVID-19 vaccine; while 55% do not know where they will be able to receive one. However, the public is generally optimistic about the COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Read more of the report here.

  • Like other countries, the U.S., in order to slow the spread of the new COVID-19 strains, will soon place non-U.S. citizen travel restrictions to and from South Africa.

January 22, 2021

January 20, 2021

January 18, 2021

      • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the potential that the new variants may upend the current stable period we see with COVID-19 cases. Read more.

      • The COVID-19 death toll has risen over 2 million worldwide; this marks a new milestone in this pandemic.

      • In the U.S., the B117 variant of COVID-19 is expected to become the dominant COVID-19 strain in the upcoming months (by March 2021). It is imperative that despite receiving the vaccine, everyone continues to practice preventive measures, including mask-wearing, hand washing, and social distancing

January 15, 2021

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January 13, 2021

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we explore this week’s U.S. 50 State Risk Matrix and the apparent calm before the storm

  • On Tuesday (January 12, 2021), the U.S. CDC has issued an order requiring that all air passengers arriving to the US from a foreign country be tested no more than 3 days before their flight departs and provide proof of the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight. This order will go into effect on Tuesday, January 26, 2021.

  • Similar to TAG’s FAQs, NPR breaks down why it is still necessary to wear masks and avoid crowds even after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • The U.S.’s Operation Warp Speed has announced a pivot in its COVID-19 vaccine strategy to vaccinate all those 65 and over as quickly as possible with the vaccines that are available. Read more on CIDRAP.

  • A best practice of keeping COVID-19 out of your home is to improve the ventilation (air flow) and bring in fresh air, especially if you are having visitors. This extra step, on top of staying 6 feet apart and wearing masks, can decrease your risk of getting/spreading COVID-19. Improving ventilation may include, opening windows, using air filters, and turning on fans – all actions that can clear the air and move the particles out of the space you’re in.

    • You can also use a window exhaust fan or place a fan as close as possible to an open door or window, blowing outwards.

    • If you want a portable air cleaner, consider using a high-efficiency particular air (HEPA) cleaner sized for the room(s) you are airing out.

    • Read more tips from the CDC, including how to use ceiling fans, vent bathrooms, etc.

  • Beware of black market COVID-19 vaccines. As we mentioned, COVID-19 vaccines are only being administered at approved locations.

January 11, 2021

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss

  • The FDA has issued an alert that some of the genetic COVID-19 variants may impact the results and lead to false negatives with a few COVID-19 molecular tests (e.g.  Accula SARS-Cov-2 Test; TaqPath COVID-19 Combo Kit; Linea COVID-19 Assay Kit).

  • Last Thursday, the U.S. hit a new record of single-day deaths from COVID-19 with over 4,085 deaths. Although the vaccine is still being distributed, it is still important to maintain social distancing, wear a mask, continue washing hands, and practice other preventive measures to keep everyone safe.

  • In Los Angeles County, California, 1 in 5 COVID-19 tests are positive, indicating that the virus is still spreading at an incredible rate.

  • FDA has issued a warning to beware of fraudulent tests, vaccines, and treatments. Be wary of unofficial COVID-19 vaccines and unscrupulous individuals who may be selling or administering the vaccine. Currently, vaccines are being distributed and administered through health departments, hospitals, pharmacies, and other valid medical or pharmaceutical facilities. Do not take a vaccine that is offered outside of locations listed above.  If you have questions about the appropriateness of a vaccination site, reach out to your local or state health department.

  • Japan has identified a new COVID-19 variant (B.1.1.248 strain with 12 mutations in the spike protein) that has similar mutations as those seen currently in the South Africa and UK variants. However, more studies must still be done to understand how this new variant may affect disease transmissibility or severity.

January 08, 2021

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss how businesses can determine the COVID-19 vaccination priorities and directives of the states in which they operate. Read more.

  • We also are continuing to populate the TAG Vaccine Q&A page. Today’s questions focus on (a) the efficacy of current tests and (b) managing potentially serious reactions of vaccines.

January 06, 2021

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss TAG’s COVID-19 Risk Matrix Update: January 05, 2021. Read more.

  • recent study published in JAMA and reported by CIDRAP finds that 14.3% of the US population had antibodies against COVID-19 by November 2020; implying that more people than reported have been infected. This tracks with the discussion that there may be a lot of COVID-19 underreporting. Additionally, there is evidence that about 35% of COVID-19 related deaths have not been reported.

  • In its weekly situational report, the WHO has found that the UK COVID-19 Variant (also known as the B.1.1.7 variant) has been found in 40 other WHO-involved countries. The South African COVID-19 Variant (501Y.V2) has been detected in six other countries.

    • More European countries are announcing tighter restrictions and lockdowns.

  • There is increasing evidence that patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms (post-hospitalization, etc.) have also developed symptoms like those associated with brain injury and other neurological disorders. NPR has summarized the studies.

January 04, 2021

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the new COVID-19 variants and what their spread means to the U.S. Read more.

  • The FDA has published a new toolkit to communicate hand sanitizer safety & use during COVID-19 in both English and Spanish.

  • The FDA also has a new COVID-19 Communication Toolkits webpage that provides links to all FDA toolkits on COVID-19 topics to help everyone communicate accurate and timely information to patients, the public, and health care professionals.

December 30, 2020

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss TAG’s COVID-19 Risk Matrix Update: December 30, 2020. Read more.

  • To answer your questions about the vaccine, TAG has developed a new COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ webpage. We will continue to update the FAQs both in our COVID newsletter and on that webpage

December 28, 2020

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss questions being asked about the COVID-19 vaccine. Read more.

  • There continues to be a media focus on the new strain of COVID found in the UK, other parts of Europe, Japan, Canada, and likely the U.S. as well. So far, there is no indication that the strain causes any worse disease, although it does seem more infectious. While there is no need to further change behavior, it is critical that all COVID-19 protective behaviors be continued.

  • To answer your questions about the vaccine, TAG has developed a new COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ webpage. We will continue to update the FAQs both in our COVID newsletter and on that webpage

December 23, 2020

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  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss this week’s matrices – and some behavioral tendencies that are having an impact.

  • With some vaccine recipients who had no previous allergic reactions having reactions to the vaccine, a study published in Science magazine is postulating that the compound polyethylene glycol (PEG)  in the packaging of the messenger RNA (mRNA) that forms the vaccine’s main ingredient may be putting a small number of people who were previously exposed to PEG and developed high levels of antibodies against PEG, at risk of an anaphylactic reaction to the vaccine. Thus, it is recommended that the vaccine continue to be administered in facilities equipped to handle anaphylaxis.

  • To answer your questions about the vaccine, TAG has developed a new COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ webpage. We will continue to update the FAQs both in our COVID newsletter and on that webpage.

December 21, 2020

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December 18, 2020

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  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss answer some COVID-19 FAQs, including (a) what to do if an employee displays COVID-19 symptoms post-vaccine; and (b) is the vaccine safe for pregnant women.

  • The FDA has recommended Moderna’s vaccine for an EUA. If approved, the Moderna vaccine may be ready to distribute starting next week. As discussed in last Friday’s Vaccine Q&A, there are some differences between the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, including less stringent temperature requirements (-20C (-4F).

  • The EEOC has added a Vaccines section (K) to its COVID-19 FAQ page, which includes discussion on  ADA and Title VII issues in relation to mandatory vaccination policies for employers.

  • Today, Dr. David Acheson will be rounding up the year with SafetyChain Software for a final FSMA Friday 2020, “Navigating COVID Complexity in 2021 to Stay Resilient,” to discuss up-to-the-minute facts, the truth about vaccines, ways you can minimize disruption, and what to expect from COVID-19 in the new year. Sign up now!

  • To address skepticism over the vaccine’s safety and show its safety, Vice-President Mike Pence received his COVID-19 vaccine live on TV.

December 16, 2020

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss TAG’s COVID-19 Risk Matrix. Overall, while the rate of COVID-19 in the US has slowed, there has not been much of a decline. TAG recommends that preventive measures be continued and that employers encourage employees to “stay put” and not travel this upcoming holiday season.

  • The FDA is set to meet to discuss the Moderna vaccine. Data submitted by Moderna to the FDA shows the vaccine to be highly effective. Read the report here.

  • This Friday, Drs. David Acheson & Ben Miller will be rounding up the year with SafetyChain Software for a final FSMA Friday 2020, “Navigating COVID Complexity in 2021 to Stay Resilient,” to discuss up-to-the-minute facts, the truth about vaccines, ways you can minimize disruption, and what to expect from COVID-19 in the new year. Sign up now!

  • On Friday, we will answer more vaccine FAQs that we’ve received. To see our previous FAQs, please see our previous Archived posts!

December 14, 2020

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss a new COVID-19 county-level data set for predictive analyses – and address the vaccine question: What does FDA say about the safety of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for those with allergies?

  • On Friday, the FDA issued its first Emergency Use Authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 Vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. The vaccine is currently on its way to locations around the world. In many locations in the U.S., the first doses will go to healthcare workers.

  • This upcoming Friday, Drs. David Acheson & Ben Miller will be rounding up the year with SafetyChain Software for a final FSMA Friday 2020, “Navigating COVID Complexity in 2021 to Stay Resilient,” to discuss up-to-the-minute facts, the truth about vaccines, ways you can minimize disruption, and what to expect from COVID-19 in the new year. Sign up now!

  • The CDC will be hosting a “What Every Clinician Should Know about COVID-19 Vaccine Safety” webinar today, Monday, December 14 from 1:00PM – 2:00PM ET, to discuss the safety of the vaccine, including how to enroll people into the vaccine and methods of checking-up on patients, afterward. Register or call-in here.

  • As the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is underway, the CDC has released on “What to Expect at Your Vaccine Appointment”.

  • On Sunday, the CDC updated its list of vaccine-related references. Refer to these resources on the CDC’s website.

  • A biotech conference held in February 2020 in Boston, MA, is shown to be tied to more than 300,000 national and international COVID-19 infections, a recent Science article finds.

  • While much of the world’s focus has been on COVID-19, with the food industry incorporating a range of worker protections, beneath this, momentum has built in the realm of food-related litigation. Not only were criminal convictions a focus of the USDA FSIS’s most recent quarterly enforcement report, but class-action lawsuits have continued to be of focus with Stericycle Expert Solutions anticipating lawsuits “to pass 2019’s total.” What lawsuits and actions happened in 2020 and what do they mean for you?

December 11, 2020

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee’s recommendation to provide EAU for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

    • We also begin a regular COVID-19 Vaccine Q&A (below) to answer your questions and keep you updated as we move into the next vaccination phase of the pandemic.

December 09, 2020

  • In todays’ Recommendations for Industry, we find, through the Risk Matrix, that overall conditions in the U.S. remain mostly “the same” (as in, things are not going well – case rates are increasing and Test Positive Rates are increasing all across the country).

  • With vaccines being administered in the UK and moving towards approval in the US, TAG will be providing a Weekly Vaccine Update each Friday and is developing a COVID Vaccine FAQ Resource Page at AchesonGroup.com. Keep an eye out for our Friday discussion.

December 07, 2020

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we provide an overview of vaccines along with status of the current COVID-19 vaccines developed or in development. Read the brief below, then link to the paper for the full story.

    • With vaccines now a top-of-mind focus for the pandemic, TAG will be providing a Weekly Vaccine Update each Friday and is developing a COVID Vaccine FAQ Resource Page at AchesonGroup.com. Keep an eye out for that!

  • This week is National Influenza Vaccination Week (December 06 – 12, 2020). Food, beverage, and agricultural industries are all part of the Critical and Essential workforce, to keep our communities running amid #COVID19. Flu vaccination can help keep healthy so you can continue your vital work. It is not too late to get your flu shot! Find a vaccination location near you using Vaccine Finder.

  • The Associated Press reports that this year, Thanksgiving car travel was only 5% less than that of pre-pandemic times (including 2019).

December 04, 2020

December 02, 2020

November 30, 2020

November 25, 2020

November 23, 2020

November 20, 2020

November 16, 2020

November 18, 2020

China continues to report the presence of coronavirus on imported food products and packagingof shrimp, fish, beef, and pork. However, guidance from World Health Organization and other organizations continue to indicate that it is highly unlikely that people can contract COVID-19 from food or food packaging. Read the news from Food Safety News.

November 13, 2020

  • In Case You Missed It:

    • In Monday’s Recommendations for Industry, we discussed if a vaccine is coming soon and what you should know in the meantime.

    • In Wednesday’s, we explored TAG’s U.S. Risk Matrix. Forty-four (44) states are in the Highest-Risk Quadrant. Twenty-four (24) states have a TPR greater than 10% and a case rate ≥25/100K people indicates testing may not be adequate to fully characterize the true severity of the outbreak in these states.

    • Last Friday’s discussed the similarities and differences between COVID-19, the flu, the common cold, and allergies in a chart form!

      • This will be available for online download soon. However, if you want a copy now, please email Lily Yang (lily.yang@achesongroup.com).

    • OSHA has released new infographic guidance for “COVID-19 Guidance on Ventilation in the Workplace” [English] [Spanish]. Much of this guidance is parallel to what TAG has previously discussed and encouraged.

    • A recent CDC MMWR highlights the protective measures of working from home rather than onsite. In fact, “adults who received positive test results for SARS-CoV-2 infection were more likely to report exclusively going to an office or school setting in the 2 weeks before illness onset.” This is compared to those who tested negative, even among those working in a profession outside of the critical infrastructure. These findings highlight the importance, even now, of “promot[ing] alternative work site options, such as teleworking, where possible, to reduce exposures to SARS-CoV-2. Where telework options are not feasible, worker safety measures should continue to be scaled up to reduce possible worksite exposures.”

    • The recent CDC highlight for “How to Protect Yourself & Others” highlights that “older adults and people who have certain underlying conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 illness.” This emphasizes the crucial need to continue to practice good personal hygiene, avoid close contact, wearing a mask over your nose and mouth when around others, clean and disinfect, and monitor your health daily.

      • Additionally, protect your health by getting a flu vaccine!

      • For a quick reference to identify if you might have COVID-19, the flu, the cold, or allergies, check out our recent infographic.

    • CDC has released new guidance for Celebrating Thanksgiving safely (to limit the spread of COVID-19 and the flu). As the holiday approaches, it is imperative to keep your business and workers safe.

      • Due to rising COVID-19 cases, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to do so with people in your household. Consider hosting a virtual Thanksgiving for those who do not live with you! Or prepare traditional dishes and deliver the food to others in a way that does not involve contact with others.

      • If you are celebrating with others outside your household, take steps like wearing a mask, staying socially distant from others, and washing your hands.

      • Consider celebrating outdoors (if possible), or if celebrating indoors, make sure to open windows.

      • Limit the number of guests you have, as well as the number of food-preparation individuals.

November 11, 2020

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we explore TAG’s U.S. Risk Matrix. 44 states are in the Highest-Risk Quadrant. Twenty-four (24) states have a TPR greater than 10% and a case rate ≥ 25/100K people indicates testing may not be adequate to fully characterize the true severity of the outbreak in these states!

  • Tomorrow, Thursday November 12, the FDA is hosting a presentation to provide an overview of FDA’s research to evaluate the ability of facial coverings to reduce the spread of COVID-19 infection and how the FDA is developing a comprehensive risk-assessment tool to predict the probability of infection with different types of masks. Register here.

  • Global cases of COVID-19 have exceeded 51 million cases.

    • U.S. hospital cases are rising.

  • The CDC’s recent highlight for “How to Protect Yourself & Others” highlights that “older adults and people who have certain underlying conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 illness”. As such, it is crucial to practice good personal hygiene, avoid close contact, wearing a mask over your nose and mouth when around others, clean and disinfect, and monitor your health daily.

    • Additionally, protect your health this flu season by getting a flu vaccine!

    • For a quick reference to identify if you might have COVID-19, the flu, the cold, or allergies, check out our recent infographic.

  • The CDC has also released new guidance for Celebrating Thanksgiving safely (to limit the spread of COVID-19 and the flu). As the holiday approaches, it is imperative to keep your business and workers safe.

    • Due to rising COVID-19 cases, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household. Consider hosting a virtual Thanksgiving for those who do not live with you! Or prepare traditional dishes and deliver the food to others in a way that does not involve contact with others.

    • If you are celebrating with others outside your household, take steps like wearing a mask, staying socially distant from others, and washing your hands.

    • Consider celebrating outdoors (if possible), or if celebrating indoors, “make sure to open windows”.

    • Limit the number of guests you have; additionally, limit the number of food-preparation individuals.

    • Get your flu shot!

  • In Case You Missed It:

November 09, 2020