Controlling the Risk of Infection: Cameras, Cleaning and Other Layers of Protection
As the discussions continue around when and if to resume ‘normal’ operations, you can read the recommended minimum criteria for re-opening that we are sharing with customers. Yet even as we urge caution, we recognize—and celebrate—that there will be a time when organizations re-open. And barring a medical miracle, that time will come before the threat of COVID-19 is fully eradicated. It is important, therefore, to start thinking about how we can minimize the risk of contagion. Clearly, we are going to need multiple layers of protection:
‘Smart Cameras’ and Monitoring Body Temperatures
Monitoring staff, volunteers and guests is one way that we can identify potentially infected individuals and help prevent them from infecting others. In addition to hand-held non-invasive thermometers, there are now a number of ‘smart camera’ systems on the market which are able to monitor body temperature. Please review our guide to the pros and cons of smart cameras. Please know that the virus can spread from individuals who are entirely asymptomatic—so cameras are not a silver bullet solution.
Encourage Staff and Members to Self-Quarantine
We will need to encourage anyone who is sick—or who has been exposed to the virus—to stay home and self-isolate. That means communicating clearly with staff, volunteers and members and letting them know your expectations. It also means educating them on how the virus can spread and what factors might mean they should stay away. We also encourage prominent signage warning members of the risk they are taking if they choose to use your facilities.
Aggressive Cleaning Measures
The novel coronavirus can survive and be passed on from surfaces that are touched by an infected individual—whether or not they are presenting symptoms. According to the CDC, it is important to significantly increase cleaning and disinfecting routines with particular focus on frequently touched surfaces like guardrails, door knobs and exercise equipment. Among other things, this will mean rotating equipment to maintain spacing and for cleaning and disinfecting. As you know, please also use isopropyl alcohol for cleaning instead of more traditional cleaners.
Promote Good Hygiene
Wearing masks and washing hands frequently can limit the spread of the virus. Make hand sanitizer available at stations around your facility and post prominent signage encouraging its use. Depending on availability, it’s a good idea to make masks available to all staff who want them—and to encourage masks among members and guests, too.
The novel coronavirus spreads from person-to-person contact, but does not require physical contact. This risk may be increased if individuals are exercising. In all likelihood, you will not be able to re-open with the same number of people using your facilities as you had before this pandemic hit. In general, the current guidance is to encourage 6ft of distance between individuals—so plan your capacity for programming and space your equipment accordingly. It may be a good idea to provide markings on the floor or other signage that helps people to visualize appropriate distance.
Waivers and Signage
None of these measures will be sufficient by themselves. Even when all measures are in place, anybody who is out in public is—by definition—increasing their risk of infection. That is why we continue to expect that our customers will stay closed until our minimum criteria for re-opening have been met. It is also why all program participants and volunteers should sign robust waivers that cover the risk of infection (download template language here.)
Ultimately, there is no silver bullet solution to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that is something that we are all familiar with. From child sexual abuse prevention to aquatic safety, your efforts to protect the community have almost always required multiple layers of interwoven protection. This crisis is no different. We need cautious decision making about when and how to re-open. And we need to develop a robust strategy of communication, testing and monitoring, hygiene and spacing for when that time comes. With these layers of protection in place, we are confident that we can not only weather this crisis together—but we can re-emerge stronger, more connected and more impactful than we ever have been before.
Thank you for all you do.