What is COVID-19?
The most recent coronavirus, COVID-19, is a new strain of virus that hasn’t been identified before in humans. The COVID-19 virus is a respiratory pathogen that is highly contagious, and it is far more lethal than the flu virus.
Some symptoms of coronavirus include – fever, cough, body aches and tiredness and they can worsen and cause pneumonia, fluid in the lungs that leads to shortness of breath. The COVID-19 illness is more severe than the flu, and the chance of dying from it is greater than the seasonal flu, estimates up to 30x greater risk of death. COVID-19 has been able to spread from person to person very easily and requires an immediate response to protect workers and the general public.
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks because these droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Steps to Take to Protect Yourself
Below are some steps you can take to protect yourself at work or in your daily life. This is not a comprehensive list. It is important to note, as more is learned about COVID-19, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to update their guidance on how to protect yourself. For the most recent updates, visit the CDC website.
- Wear a mask to protect yourself and others and stop the spread of COVID-19. Wear your mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin. Fit the mask snugly against the sides of your face, slipping the loops over your ears or tying the strings behind your head.
- Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from others who don’t live with you.
- Avoid crowds. The more people you are in contact with, the more likely you are to be exposed to COVID-19.
- Avoid poorly ventilated spaces.
- Wash your hands often. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Monitor health daily.
- Get Vaccinated to Protect Against COVID-19
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch often. Use cleaning products as directed.
Employers should follow the MOST protective guidance and standards issued by state or federal agencies. If guidance contradicts each other, the MOST protective should be implemented.
COVID-19 Weekly Updates: Saving Lives, Protecting Workers
In this weekly series, we will hear from and talk with public health experts, government officials, medical personnel, front-line workers and worker representatives about the latest developments in the fight against COVID-19. The series is sponsored by WEC, Rutgers Learn and Jersey Renews and airs on Tuesday @ 12pm. Want to receive weekly series emails, sign up here.
Past Webinar Summaries
October 5: Building Ventilation and Minimizing Exposure to COVID-19
This episode we hosted industrial hygienist Allen Barkkume, MS, who informed us about the importance of good building ventilation to help mitigate COVID-19 transmission. Allen explained the hierarchy of controls and the top priority for proper building ventilation is to bring in fresh outdoor air followed by air exhaust, dilution and finally filtration in order of importance. You can find the slides from the presentation here. For more information on building ventilation, please use the links from the last slide in the presentation. More than 40 people attended this webinar.
September 28: OSHA’s ETS & Guidance for Mitigating & Preventing Spread of COVID-19
This episode we hosted OSHA’s Region 2 Steve Kaplan, Deputy Regional Administrator, Laura Kenny, Assistant Regional Administrator for Technical Support, and Warren Simpson, Assistant Regional Administrator for Enforcement Programs who gave us insight into the updated COVID-19 guidelines for all workers and details about the Emergency Temporary Standard for Healthcare Workers. Assistant Regional Administrator for Technical Support Warren Simpson informed us, “over 50% of all COVID related citations in the U.S came from Region 2 of OSHA”. You can find the slides from the presentation here. For more information on OHSA, ETS and their enforcement efforts, please use the following links from […]
September 21: The Latest Science on the Virus and Vaccines with NJ Department of Health Expert
After a 5-month hiatus, the COVID-19 Weekly Update returned on September 21 in response to the rise of the Delta variant, the emergence of breakthrough cases, and the increasing number of cases in children which have set us back into uncertain waters as we enter the autumn season when people will be spending more time indoors. This week received an update from Dr. Meg Fisher from the NJ Department of Health about the latest science on COVID-19, including transmissibility and vaccine efficacy as well as an update on where things are currently in NJ in terms of cases, vaccines, and […]
May 17: COVID-19 Update: Vaccines and the NJ Vaccine Distribution Program
Over 8 million shots have been administered in NJ with approximately 3.5 million people having received the two doses needed to provide maximum protection. Eligibility has recently been expanded to include everyone above the age of 16, and the Pfizer vaccine is now approved to be administered to children aged 12-15.
Supply has vastly improved as demand for the vaccine has diminished. The state has further ramped up its outreach efforts in order to reach the goal to vaccinate 4.7 million adults.
We were joined by Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, MD, NJDOH Medical Advisor, Professional Advisory Committee Chair
April 27: Workers Memorial Day – The toll of Covid-19
This week, in our last regularly scheduled episode, we observed Workers’ Memorial Day and the deadly toll that COVID19 took on workers this past year. We heard from co-workers, community leaders and labor leaders who paid tribute to fallen workers and their families. We were joined by:
- Yadhira Alvarez, Chief of Staff for the Laundry, Distribution and Food Service Joint Board (LDFS Union), Workers United, SEIU
- Lou Kimmel, Executive Director, New Labor
- Tiffany Beavers-Busby, RN in the medical intensive care unit at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, NJ and a Vice President of HPAE Local 5058
Our guests spoke […]
The COVID-19 webinar series is sponsored by
Benefits for Workers
NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development Resources
- What NJ Workers Need to Know about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Factsheet
- NJ Division of Unemployment: https://myunemployment.nj.gov/
- Guidance for Self-Employed Individuals Filing a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Claim and FAQs
- NJ Family leave Insurance: https://myleavebenefits.nj.gov/labor/myleavebenefits/worker/fli/index.shtml
- NJ Earned Paid Sick Leave: https://www.nj.gov/labor/worker-protections/earnedsick/law.shtml
- NJ Temporary Disability Insurance: https://myleavebenefits.nj.gov/labor/myleavebenefits/worker/tdi/index.shtml
Federal Paid Sick Leave and CARES act expansions and stimulus
- US Department of Labor: Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Paid Leave Rights