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Reactive Measures: How to Respond to an Outbreak

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a major problem for businesses and organizations around the nation, it's worth taking a hard look at whether you're prepared in the event of an outbreak at your business, facility, or other location where people congregate. Here are some of the most critical tips that can help you identify, manage, and recover from outbreaks of COVID-19.

Author: Encompass Team

How do you know you have an outbreak?

Before we dive into exactly how to help contain and respond to an outbreak, it's crucial to understand how you can identify whether you have a COVID-19 outbreak on your hands in the first place. Here are some of the signs to watch for that identify you're dealing with an outbreak.


What the CDC Says About Outbreaks

The CDC primarily uses two definitions to identify outbreaks in specific areas.


  • During (and because of) a case investigation and contact tracing, two or more contacts are identified as having active COVID-19, regardless of their assigned priority.

OR

  • Two or more patients with COVID-19 are discovered to be linked, and the linkage is established outside of a case investigation and contact tracing (e.g., two patients who received a diagnosis of COVID-19 are found to work in the same office, and only one or neither of them was listed as a contact to the other).


Using these definitions as a baseline can help you determine whether you're facing an outbreak.


Community Spread

The CDC defines community spread as infections that have occurred within an area where some or all people infected aren't sure exactly how or where they became infected. When you have signs of community spread— meaning you can't trace infections directly to a specific source— it can be one of the most tangible signs that you're experiencing an outbreak.


Communication is Key

One of the keys to effectively identifying and managing outbreaks is ensuring that there are proper communication lines between your employees and managers. Employees should feel comfortable sharing COVID-19 diagnoses rather than worrying about being ostracized or criticized. After all, this is a pandemic, and infections are bound to happen, even with the most careful measures. When infections do occur, you want to make sure that your employees feel comfortable letting you know about it so you can take informed action.


How to reduce the number of people infected

When it comes to managing an outbreak, the #1 priority should always be to reduce the number of people who end up infected. Here are some of the most important factors that separate minor, manageable outbreaks from those that spiral out of control.


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Download the COVID-19 Guide

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Full Disinfection

Disinfecting your entire infected area is an important first step in containing an outbreak. COVID-19 can survive on hard surfaces for up to three days, and interactions from people infected can reset that clock. A full disinfection protocol of the outbreak area may be necessary to start with a clean slate.


Fast Response

A quick response is extremely important for mitigating outbreaks. That's why our outbreak response teams are equipped to attend to outbreaks within 48 hours, a critical window in helping stop COVID's spread before it spirals out of control.


Trace Contacts

Your business or facility should have a protocol in place for tracing contacts that result in COVID infections— and a planned response to the results of those contact tracings. For example, when an infection is traced to an employee, consider having that employee temporarily work from home.


Consider Temporary Facility Shutdown

If an outbreak is severe, you may need to close your facility temporarily. Consider whether your employees can effectively work from home during the disinfection and outbreak containment period.


Enact Social Distancing Measures

If you can't shut down, embrace strict and widespread social distancing measures. The key is to keep people infected without knowing it from infecting other people at your company or business.


What equipment and materials do you need for containment?

Managing an outbreak requires more than standard cleaning equipment. You'll need a disinfection team equipped with supplies and materials explicitly focused on managing COVID-19 outbreaks.


Powerful, EPA-Approved Disinfection Products

The right product can kill COVID-19 within 2 minutes, while the wrong product will do nothing at all. Use products listed on the EPA's list of approved products for COVID-19 (List-N).


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

All employees and vendors working on the containment need to wear PPE to prevent the virus's further spreading.


Electrostatic Disinfection Technology

Take advantage of electrostatic disinfection, which uses positive particles to adhere to surfaces and objects of any shape or size. It then coats the particles with disinfectant, sanitizing the entire space quickly.


How do you know containment is successful?

Once you've taken measures to stop an outbreak in its tracks, how do you know whether your efforts have been successful? Here are a few signs of successful containment.


Outlast the Contagious Period

The contagious period for COVID-19 is estimated to be around ten days after symptoms first appear. To properly contain an outbreak, you need to stop infected parties from infecting others within this period.


Watch for Community Spread

Managing an outbreak has a lot do with contact tracing. Once you can adequately trace all infections directly to an exact source, you'll be a lot closer to shutting down an outbreak than when you're dealing with community spread— infections with no known source or origin.


No New Cases

If you can return to normal or adjusted business activities without new COVID-19 cases for several days or weeks, you can consider your outbreak contained and breathe a sigh of relief. That said, it doesn't mean you can stop being vigilant in your disinfection and cleaning practices.

Encompass

At Encompass, we're a full-service facility management company that not only helps contain COVID-19 outbreaks but can also help serve as a full-service facility management company to actively maintain your sanitation and other facility needs. Our Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC)-certified COVID-19 disinfection program is built for rapid deployment to assist your facility when you need it.


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Reactive Measures: How to Respond to an Outbreak

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Author: Encompass Team

How do you know you have an outbreak?

Before we dive into exactly how to help contain and respond to an outbreak, it's crucial to understand how you can identify whether you have a COVID-19 outbreak on your hands in the first place. Here are some of the signs to watch for that identify you're dealing with an outbreak.


What the CDC Says About Outbreaks

The CDC primarily uses two definitions to identify outbreaks in specific areas.


  • During (and because of) a case investigation and contact tracing, two or more contacts are identified as having active COVID-19, regardless of their assigned priority.

OR

  • Two or more patients with COVID-19 are discovered to be linked, and the linkage is established outside of a case investigation and contact tracing (e.g., two patients who received a diagnosis of COVID-19 are found to work in the same office, and only one or neither of them was listed as a contact to the other).


Using these definitions as a baseline can help you determine whether you're facing an outbreak.


Community Spread

The CDC defines community spread as infections that have occurred within an area where some or all people infected aren't sure exactly how or where they became infected. When you have signs of community spread— meaning you can't trace infections directly to a specific source— it can be one of the most tangible signs that you're experiencing an outbreak.


Communication is Key

One of the keys to effectively identifying and managing outbreaks is ensuring that there are proper communication lines between your employees and managers. Employees should feel comfortable sharing COVID-19 diagnoses rather than worrying about being ostracized or criticized. After all, this is a pandemic, and infections are bound to happen, even with the most careful measures. When infections do occur, you want to make sure that your employees feel comfortable letting you know about it so you can take informed action.


How to reduce the number of people infected

When it comes to managing an outbreak, the #1 priority should always be to reduce the number of people who end up infected. Here are some of the most important factors that separate minor, manageable outbreaks from those that spiral out of control.


----

Download the COVID-19 Guide

----


Full Disinfection

Disinfecting your entire infected area is an important first step in containing an outbreak. COVID-19 can survive on hard surfaces for up to three days, and interactions from people infected can reset that clock. A full disinfection protocol of the outbreak area may be necessary to start with a clean slate.


Fast Response

A quick response is extremely important for mitigating outbreaks. That's why our outbreak response teams are equipped to attend to outbreaks within 48 hours, a critical window in helping stop COVID's spread before it spirals out of control.


Trace Contacts

Your business or facility should have a protocol in place for tracing contacts that result in COVID infections— and a planned response to the results of those contact tracings. For example, when an infection is traced to an employee, consider having that employee temporarily work from home.


Consider Temporary Facility Shutdown

If an outbreak is severe, you may need to close your facility temporarily. Consider whether your employees can effectively work from home during the disinfection and outbreak containment period.


Enact Social Distancing Measures

If you can't shut down, embrace strict and widespread social distancing measures. The key is to keep people infected without knowing it from infecting other people at your company or business.


What equipment and materials do you need for containment?

Managing an outbreak requires more than standard cleaning equipment. You'll need a disinfection team equipped with supplies and materials explicitly focused on managing COVID-19 outbreaks.


Powerful, EPA-Approved Disinfection Products

The right product can kill COVID-19 within 2 minutes, while the wrong product will do nothing at all. Use products listed on the EPA's list of approved products for COVID-19 (List-N).


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

All employees and vendors working on the containment need to wear PPE to prevent the virus's further spreading.


Electrostatic Disinfection Technology

Take advantage of electrostatic disinfection, which uses positive particles to adhere to surfaces and objects of any shape or size. It then coats the particles with disinfectant, sanitizing the entire space quickly.


How do you know containment is successful?

Once you've taken measures to stop an outbreak in its tracks, how do you know whether your efforts have been successful? Here are a few signs of successful containment.


Outlast the Contagious Period

The contagious period for COVID-19 is estimated to be around ten days after symptoms first appear. To properly contain an outbreak, you need to stop infected parties from infecting others within this period.


Watch for Community Spread

Managing an outbreak has a lot do with contact tracing. Once you can adequately trace all infections directly to an exact source, you'll be a lot closer to shutting down an outbreak than when you're dealing with community spread— infections with no known source or origin.


No New Cases

If you can return to normal or adjusted business activities without new COVID-19 cases for several days or weeks, you can consider your outbreak contained and breathe a sigh of relief. That said, it doesn't mean you can stop being vigilant in your disinfection and cleaning practices.

Encompass

At Encompass, we're a full-service facility management company that not only helps contain COVID-19 outbreaks but can also help serve as a full-service facility management company to actively maintain your sanitation and other facility needs. Our Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC)-certified COVID-19 disinfection program is built for rapid deployment to assist your facility when you need it.


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