Winter Park Resort in Grand County, Colorado. KMGH
A ski resort in Colorado has had a Covid-19 outbreak, with more than 100 active infections among its employees.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced the outbreak at Winter Park Resort in January but released the data in its weekly outbreak summary on Wednesday.
There are at least 109 employees with active infections, they said.
“It has been determined that these cases have not been traced back to transmission through interaction with visitors but, rather, from social gatherings outside of the workplace and congregate housing,” Grand County, Colorado, officials said Monday in a joint statement with Winter Park Resort.
With ski season in full swing in Colorado, other resorts have also reported Covid-19 cases. But the outbreak at Winter Park is currently the largest, according to CDPHE data.
“We have been working closely with public health authorities since the pandemic began,” said Jen Miller, communications manager at the ski resort. “We did extensive planning and had to get approval from the state on our operations before we could open on December 3.”
Cases linked to socializing and living situations: Most of the cases have been traced back to social gatherings outside of work and to congregate housing, Miller said.
Precautions, according to Miller, include: reconfiguring lift corrals and lift-loading procedures, extra staff, new signage reminding visitors about mask requirements, limitations on dining, a reservation system to manage visitation and the number of people at the resort, contactless lodging and a state-approved testing site for their 1,700 active employees.
But some visitors have reported that mask mandates were not being enforced.
When asked about those reports, Miller said, “We’ve done extensive work and continue to evolve our operations as necessary. I can’t speak to one individual’s experience, but we do appreciate feedback and will continue to make modifications with the health and well-being of our employees, guests and community as our top priority.”
Conor Cahill, press secretary for Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, said ski resorts across the state need to “do a better job planning for and managing surge weekends.”
Viruses are frightening because they are essentially invisible to our view. We might see the effects attributed to the virus, but most of us have to take the word of scientists or doctors as to what caused the devastation that we can observe. I take it on faith that viruses exist because the experts say they do. The longer I live, the more things come my way that vex me for which the experts have no absolute answers…
Violence seems to be the norm in nature, but so can kindness and caring. We hate and we love. Sometimes we are indifferent. What affects us adversely might be a cause of great concern to us. In other cases we are greatly concerned about what we perceive affects us or might affect us someday. Humans can be a mighty perplexing bunch.
Many of the problems humans face are more ideological than actual. It might be that we have too much time on our hands, use our imagination too much and not for something fun or diversionary, but to scare up new bugaboos to worry us. It is the conundrum of modern society. If a real threat is not enough then why not conjure up imagined ones or hypothetical scenarios?
What would it take for all humans to be happy? In the United States and much of the rest of the world for that matter, we have it easy. For most of us, the days of hunting for food or growing crops for survival is not even in our purview. The food is just there when we need it. Reasonably clean water is available by turning on a faucet.
So, what do we need to be happy? A new political installation? More money? Television shows that might interest or entertain us more? We have an abundance of so much in our lives and yet it never seems to be enough.
Yes, it is vexing to me when I dwell upon it. In my own life, there are indeed more things I would like to have. But I can also find a relative contentment in what I do have–or at least I accept it for the most part. And still the world around me cries out for more and still more.
It’s all very vexing in some ways, while in other ways the answers seem as clear as a church bell reverberating across the verdant spring landscape on a placid Sunday morning. People are stirring, but are they really listening?
What is the most vexing life question on your mind? Why do you think there is so much dissonance in society? What is your answer to finding true happiness and contentment?
While we fight COVID-19 together, the BMC COVID-19 response Dashboard document elaborates various measures and initiatives taken up by BMC in response to CoVID-19 crises. The document covers key statistics for city of Mumbai like Testing results, Contact tracing & home quarantine, Status of COVID-19 Positive cases, facilities update, Bed capacity & other initiatives. The data for these fields keep getting updated in near real-time and the report presents approximate representation and the actual numbers may vary based on any new admissions, discharges etc.
In the last week, health officials across Canada have urged residents to stay at home, socially isolate as much as possible and limit the number of people they interact with.
1:36Perils and perks of working from home during pandemic Perils and perks of working from home during pandemic – Mar 27, 2020
Premiers in multiple provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, have emphasized that gatherings of over 50 people, and smaller group interactions, should not happen during the coronavirus pandemic.
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But not every employer has followed government directions to allow staff to work from home or to close shop if being physically at work isn’t absolutely paramount — like those who work in essential services like at a hospital or grocery store.
The coronavirus pandemic has created many precarious employment situations, including reduced hours at a service job, needing extra time off to take care of children or not enough safety precautions being implemented if you do have to be at work.
As a result, more than 500,000 people across the country have applied for Employment Insurance (EI) or financial assistance compared to 27,000 this time last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a press conference on March 20.
Rachel, who is in her 30s and works for a licensed cannabis store in Ontario, told Global News she’s concerned about her obligations to work physically at the store while it remains open. Her name has been changed due to fear of reprisal by her employer.
She’s unsure if she qualifies for employment insurance after her hours were reduced this week to four to eight hours, down from a 40-hour work schedule.
The store’s staff were given the option to opt-out of the single shift if they don’t feel comfortable — but she’s concerned that wouldn’t qualify as being laid off if she were to apply for assistance, she said.
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“I have not seen anything that applies specifically to workers who are seeing their hours cut, yet are still technically employed,” she said,
There’s also “no financial support being offered by the companies themselves that are requiring the staff to come in,” she said.
Opting out of her shift doesn’t feel like a genuine option as she’s concerned about keeping her job if she decides not to work, she said.
While the store is limiting the number of customers to five and providing staff with hand sanitizer, she said, allowing groups to line-up for cannabis is making her feel unsafe at work.
1:58Coronavirus: Working from home leading to feelings of isolation for some Coronavirus: Working from home leading to feelings of isolation for some – Mar 19, 2020
“There are online platforms that do deliver and that are legal and are safe,” she said. “So for cannabis … physical stores remaining open is non-essential and not necessary.”
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She and other staff members feel they are “being put in harm’s way” and many would like the store to close so they can feel like they will qualify for financial assistance, she said.
Ideally, the store would close and they would know they have a job to return to while they apply for employment insurance, she explained.
“It’s a high-stress scenario and allowing the staff to have this time and be able to apply for employment assistance would go a long way to feeling supported by their employers,” she said.
Navigating employment concerns during a pandemic
Within the last week, new changes to laws have been implemented in an attempt to protect workers during this period, said Jennifer Heath, an employment lawyer at Piccolo Heath LLP, a Toronto-based firm.
The Ontario government passed Bill 186 yesterday, which allows employees to take an emergency leave due to an infectious disease emergency.
The new rules are supposed to protect employees from losing their jobs if they are unable to work due to the pandemic, said Heath.
In Rachel’s case, where an employer is reducing hours she can work, two months ago Heath would have said this could qualify as being constructively dismissed and she’d be entitled to a severance package.
“But the rules seemed to have changed now and the advice people are giving has changed,” she said.
Rachel could apply for a severance package, but she’d be waiting months for courts to open back up and they may not be sympathetic since many others are in her position, said Heath
“I believe if your wages have been reduced by more than 40 per cent, then you can qualify for [employment insurance]”, she said. The amount given back to you could be less than half your wages, because it’s capped at 55 per cent of your wages up to $573/week, but it will be something, she added.
“I suspect that there’s going to be more announcements about EI changes and what that will mean,” she said. “And there might be something different than EI that might help workers … the news just keeps coming fast and furious.”
What to do if you could work from home, but aren’t allowed
As government directives quickly changed about how workplaces should be operating, many have not been prepared and there’s no legal obligation for an employer to allow employees to work remotely, said Heath.
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However, after health officials said to limit gatherings of over 50 people, a workplace that violates that could be creating a health and safety issue, she explained.
Refusing to let employees work from home at this point during a public health crisis would be the same as refusing to let staff come to work, she said.
“This would be my advice to employers: if the employee has the ability to work from home, then you should do it,” she said.
“If I’m denying someone the ability to work from home when they’re able to, am I constructively dismissing them? Am I basically preventing them from earning money?”
You are not obligated to take vacation days to cover this period of time, either — because the rules around employment insurance benefits have been expanded and protected leave is available, she explained.
Canadians also have a right to refuse unsafe work, which includes a work environment that may not feel comfortable due to this pandemic, said Heath. Accommodations have been made this month, like a condo security guard who’s requested a two-metre barrier around their desk — a case Heath heard about this week.
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Employers should be flexible during this period, including allowing workers to work different hours than they may be used to if they are having to watch their children, she said.
“They should at this point to keep things going and keep people sane,” she said.
How to talk to your workplace about accommodations
Before pursuing legal options, there are ways to discuss office safety and shifting to a work-from-home environment if your employer is being stubborn, said Jane Watson, a human resources professional based in Toronto.
Watson has had several individuals reach out to her about issues with their employer not allowing them to work from home this week, she said.
“I heard a story from someone that they were expected to work in an open office environment of 150 people,” she said. After a week of public health announcements, there isn’t an excuse for maintaining that kind of office at this point, she explained.
It’s understandable that many businesses aren’t equipped to handle a mass migration to working from home overnight, but there are ways to assert your rights without feeling like you might put your job in jeopardy, she said.
If your employer is uninformed, bring forward some recommendations and solutions, she said. Showing your employer what other companies in your industry are doing currently to cope could change their minds, she explained.
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1:39How to be productive while working from home during a pandemic How to be productive while working from home during a pandemic – Mar 18, 2020
“Within start-up worlds, leaders often place a lot of stock in what other companies are doing,” she said. “Companies that show they are taking care of people and ahead of the curve, that’s a way to capture your company’s attention.”
For those in a more influential role, take the time to speak to leadership and offer your help in planning for multiple scenarios that could occur as the pandemic continues. If all the employees at a smaller company get sick, that’s more detrimental than setting up proper work-from-home procedures, she said.
“Try having that conversation and see if that different approach will bring them along to make them realize, ‘oh wow, [working at the office] could actually really backfire’,” she said.
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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
Dubai: The UAE Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR) has issued five guidelines for employees working remotely.
In a statement released by the news agency WAM on Sunday, FAHR stressed that employees using the work remote system are obliged to answer all calls and emails from managers and co-workers, and deliver their work at the specified time.
Initially, the system will remain operational until March 26.
The move comes as part of precautionary measures being taken by the UAE to protect the country against COVID-19 and ensure the safety of the community. It is also to support the workflow and its efficiency in the government, taking advantage of the sophisticated technological infrastructure available.
Employees covered under the system include pregnant women, mothers of children under grade nine whose duties do not require their presence in the workplace, people of determination, and those with chronic diseases, immune system dysfunction and respiratory symptoms, as well as employees who are 60-years-old and above.
The guideline also explained that employees must first obtain prior approval from employers if they choose to work remotely, and should attend the workplace and other work-related functions if requested by their employer.
“Employees operating via the remote work system should demonstrate strong work ethics, maintain the confidentiality of information and documents, and to use their work hours to accomplish the tasks required of him. Furthermore, employees should adhere to the standards of professional behaviour and job ethics,” it said.
According to the guideline, employees are also required to provide a daily report on his accomplishments and level of productivity.
The federal authority added that there are two types of remote work systems in place; employees can either divide their time between the office and home, or opt to work completely remotely and outside the workplace.
How to be effective when working remotely
Emirati national working from home Image Credit: Stock images
First obtain prior approval from employers
Answer all calls and emails from managers and co-workers
Should attend the workplace and other work-related functions upon request
Provide a daily report on his accomplishments and level of productivity
When Thalita Rocha’s mother-in-law died due to a lack of available oxygen on a Manaus hospital’s Covid ward, she vowed to raise money to deliver oxygen tanks and other lifesaving equipment to the Amazonian city’s homes.
Editor’s Note (4/6/20): This article was updated after publication with the information that the FDA has granted an emergency use authorization to a 15-minute coronavirus test created by Abbott Laboratories.
As the new coronavirus explodes in cities across the U.S., public health agencies and hospitals are making testing—which was initially plagued by significant shortages—increasingly available. And biotech companies are ramping up production of test kits—but states are still struggling to meet demand.
COVID-19 testing is currently available in every U.S. state, as well as Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Tuesday, 92 U.S. public health laboratories had completed the CDC’s verification process and were offering tests. The CDC’s own labs have tested 4,654 specimens, and public health laboratories have tested 98,576. A New York Timesdatabase reports that at least 75,178 cases had been confirmed as positive by lab tests as of Thursday afternoon.
Testing availability varies by state. A sampling of state public health agencies in New York, California and Texas all referred Scientific American’s questions about such availability, as well as about where patients should go to get tested, to their respective coronavirus information pages. But the basic process is the same nationwide.
The first step in any coronavirus test is collecting a sample. Doing so involves placing a sterile swab at the back of a patient’s nasal passage, where it connects to the throat via the nasopharynx, for several seconds to absorb secretions. Scott Wesley Long, a clinical microbiologist who directs Houston Methodist Hospital’s diagnostic microbiology lab, says the swab is thin—less than three millimeters in diameter at its tip. “Once you place it in the back of the throat, it’s uncomfortable, but you can still breathe and talk,” he says. “It’s not as bad as it looks.” After a sample is collected, the swab goes into a liquid-filled tube for transport.
Shortages of swabs and reagents for collection kits were among the several roadblocks that stymied public health agencies’ ability to perform widespread testing in recent weeks, according to David Harris, who directs the biorepository at the University of Arizona. Harris says the university produced 1,600 generic collection kits last weekend to distribute to local health providers free of charge to help fill the gap, adding that all such kits are pretty much the same. The university plans to produce thousands more until availability begins to meet demand.
Recently, two health start-ups began marketing at-home collection kits that they claimed would allow patients to take their own samples and send them to labs for testing. The Food and Drug Administration quickly issued a warning that no such tests have been authorized, and the companies halted sales of the kits, which had been priced at about $170 to $180 apiece.
To determine whether a nasopharyngeal sample is positive for the coronavirus, biotechnicians use a technique known as reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR. The World Health Organization’s and CDC’s test kits both use this method, as do all of the kits the latter has approved to date.
“There’s a lot of hands-on work involved” in performing RT-PCR tests, Long says. First, a technician extracts viral genetic material called RNA—if it is present—from the sample and uses it to produce a complimentary strand of DNA that the RT-PCR technique amplifies, or makes thousands of copies of, to get a measurable result. The primary difference from one kit to another is which coronavirus genes each test targets. CDC-approved kits target regions on a gene that codes for the protein that makes the virus’s nucleocapsid, an envelope that houses its RNA. The biotechnology companies Roche Diagnostics, LabCorp and Thermo Fisher Scientific are among the top suppliers of commercial coronavirus RT-PCR kits.
Stephanie Caccomo, a spokesperson for the FDA, says the positive predictive value, or likelihood a positive test result correctly reflects that a patient has COVID-19, depends on how widespread the disease is—and that situation is changing quickly. “Based on what is known about the pathophysiology of COVID-19, the data provided and our previous experience with respiratory pathogen tests, the false-positive rate for authorized tests is likely to be very low, and the true-positive rate is likely to be high,” Caccomo says. “However, performance characteristics are specific to each test.” And there is a risk of a false-negative result if the sample is not taken correctly, says Vincent Racaniello, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University. This possibility could explain why people recovering from the disease sometimes test negative initially and then positive later, he says.
Most RT-PCR tests take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to process, but the FDA recently began granting emergency use authorization (EUA) to rapid diagnostic PCR tests that manufacturers say can deliver results in less than an hour. The authorization allows medical devices that have not yet been approved by the agency to be used during public health emergencies. Caccomo says the FDA conducts “rolling reviews” of diagnostic-test-validation data provided by laboratories. “This has enabled authorization of most EUA requests within a few days,” she adds.
On Saturday Cepheid, a Silicon Valley–based molecular diagnostics company, said the FDA had granted it authorization for a COVID-19 test that can deliver results in about 45 minutes. And on Tuesday Mesa Biotech in San Diego announced it had received the go-ahead for a handheld test kit that Hong Cai, the company’s CEO, says can deliver results at bedside in about half an hour. Cai says the tests will begin shipping this week to “several hospitals” and that her company has tens of thousands of units ready to go, adding that Mesa is planning to triple its production capacity.
In late March the FDA granted an EUA to Abbott Laboratories for a PCR-based COVID-19 test that can deliver results in less than 15 minutes. That test is designed to provide point-of-care results in nontraditional clinical settings such as drive-through testing sites. And it uses Abbott’s ID NOW platform, which has been employed to process similar tests for influenza and other respiratory infections. According to remarks made by Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir on March 30 and reiterated by Vice President Mike Pence on April 5, these platforms are already used at 18,000 health care locations around the country. The Abbott test can provide a positive coronavirus result in five minutes and a negative one in 13 minutes. At press briefings, President Donald Trump said that 50,000 of these tests would be delivered each day. It is unclear how many have been distributed thus far.
Another approach relies on identifying antibodies to the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in a patient’s bloodstream to determine whether that person previously had COVID-19. Florian Krammer, a microbiologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, recently developed one of these tests, which is described in a preprint study posted last week on medRxiv. “This is not a test for [ongoing] infections,” he says. “It basically looks for antibodies after the fact, after you had an infection.” Like other serological, or antibody-based, diagnostic assays, it uses an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), which employs a portion of the target virus to find antibodies. Although serological tests are not useful for quickly identifying whether a patient currently has COVID-19, Krammer says they can help researchers understand how humans produce antibodies to the virus.
Patients with severe cases of COVID-19 may be able to be treated with blood plasma from people who have developed antibodies and are immune to the disease in what is effectively an antibody-transfer operation. But to do that, clinicians first have to screen donors to determine who has a strong immune response to the virus, Krammer says. His lab is currently running a serological assay to find potential plasma donors. On Tuesday the FDA approved the emergency use of plasma for critically ill coronavirus patients.
Additionally, serological tests can also help determine if a person has been infected whether or not the individual had symptoms—something an RNA test kit cannot do after the fact, because it only looks for the virus itself. That means serological tests could be used to survey a population to determine how widespread infection rates were. It also could allow public health agencies to figure out who is already immune to COVID-19. “So if you would roll this out on a very wide scale, you could potentially identify everybody who is immune and then ask them to go back to their regular life and go back to work,” Krammer says. This approach could be especially useful for health care providers who are working with COVID-19 patients. “They might feel much more comfortable working with those patients, [knowing] that they can’t get sick anymore, knowing that they can’t pass on the virus to others,” he says.
APH will only release appointment slots on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting this week.
AUSTIN, Texas — In an attempt to cut back people’s time searching for an open appointment slot to get a COVID-19 vaccination every day, Austin Public Health will now only post appointment slots on their online portal on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting this week.
APH Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard made the announcement during the Travis County Commissioner’s dual meeting with Austin City Council on Tuesday after hearing people were frustrated with the process of signing up for the vaccine.
“If things change and we get more vaccines, then of course we will release more appointments,” Hayden-Howard said.
APH will not announce when they release appointment times, so people eligible to receive the vaccine, groups 1A and 1B, will have to continue to check throughout the day on those days.
However, to assist those who are more vulnerable, including elderly individuals over 80 years old, APH will send an email to them two hours before appointments are posted, letting them know they can register soon.
“One of the reasons why we are going with the age of 80 is because the goal is to continue to drive down that volume of folks that appear in the hospital and die,” Hayden-Howard said.
Councilmembers pushed for better ways to communicate to the public and worried this restriction on appointment sign ups would only cause the site to crash more.
More than 500,000 people registered on APH’s portal to get the vaccine, with 35% of them actually eligible for the vaccine. Eleven-thousand of them are also elderly individuals older than 80 years old.
“I just still wish that we could get to a system where there was some kind of automated waitlist and you were contacted and those spots were open for that group rather than sending 500,000 people on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the system to crash,” Austin Councilwoman Alison Alter, District 10, explained on Tuesday.
Other councilmembers encouraged the city to work with internet technology experts to create a system where emails would get sent out when an individual received an appointment slot.
This would eliminate the time people spent searching for one themselves.
City and county leaders understand people still have a lot of questions and confusion. That is why they also approved a new call center to answer COVID-19 vaccine questions. The elderly, or anyone who does not have internet, could also use this line to get assistance signing up for an appointment.
In August, Italian researchers found that a persistently infected Covid-19 patient had a mutation in the 501 site. A month later, a variant with a key mutation in the same site—the UK variant—was reported for the first time.
Essential workers who need to leave their homes to go to work in Melbourne must carry a permit from 11.59pm today or risk hefty fines under strict stage four regulations.
The Department of Justice website crashed this morning after an onslaught of workers rushed to download the permit form ahead of the deadline.
From tomorrow, all workplaces must be closed in Melbourne unless they are part of a permitted industry or sector.
Here is everything you need to know about the worker permit scheme:
Workers in personal protective equipment in Melbourne, Australia. (Getty)
How does the worker permit scheme work?
All employers that require their staff to attend a workplace must issue them with a worker permit from 11.59pm on Wednesday, August 5.
It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure all essential employees have been issued a permit.
Employees must carry the permit with them when travelling to and from work, including photo identification.
Who qualifies for the worker permit?
Essential workers whose workplace is a permitted activity allowed to open or operate under stage four regulations, part of an approved category for on-site work and who cannot work remotely from home.
A general view of Collins Street after 8pm in Melbourne. (Getty)
What happens if a worker or business does not comply with the scheme?
Fines of up to $19,826 for individuals and $99,132 for businesses will apply to employers who issue worker permits to employees who do not meet the requirements of the scheme or breach its requirements.
Workers who breach the scheme requirements or do not carry their worker permit when travelling to and from work could also face on-the-spot fines of up to $1652 and up to $9913 for businesses.
How do employers issue the permit?
Why do essential workers need permits?
The worker permit scheme is a new regulation under the stage four restrictions currently in place in metropolitan Melbourne.
Essential workers must carry the permit in case they are stopped by police on roads or public transport, including between the curfew hours of 8pm and 5am.