Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Below is a compilation of questions posed by our membership, in their words with answers provided by our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ku. We hope you find this information helpful as we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic. Please click on the tab feature to view the entire response.

Click here for Spanish FAQs

Symptoms

+ If you are showing mild cold symptoms and are young and healthy however live with someone at higher risk for COVID19, should you be tested?

If you haven’t been exposed to someone who tested positive or someone who’s traveled, you most likely won’t get tested. The best thing to do is to act as if you have it and self-isolate from the person, if possible.

+ My elderly mom has a cold. She hasn’t been to any hotspots and hasn’t been exposed to anyone who has tested positive. How concerned should I be?

I recommend calling your healthcare provider to see if they recommend testing in this situation. We do know that there’s community spread with this virus. Community spread means that people can get sick without having traveled anywhere or knowingly been exposed to anyone who was confirmed to have COVID-19. Given her advanced age, they might still test her, but it fully depends on her doctor.

+ Are runny nose, itchy ears and headache early symptoms of COVID-19?

These are considered mild symptoms and if there is no associated fever, cough or shortness of breath, these would not be considered typical of the virus. This is our understanding today; however, we know that younger and healthy people might have mild or no symptoms. So even if you have mild respiratory symptoms, the safest thing you can do for your community is to act as if you had it. While that sounds drastic, all that means is to self-isolate as much as you can.

Prevent and Protect

+ Should we wear face masks?

This answer has been updated.

The CDC previously recommended masks only for people who are sick or taking care of sick people. Due to new evidence that a significant portion of people with coronavirus could have no symptoms at all but still spread the virus, the CDC now recommends that people wear cloth face masks in public settings where 6 feet of social distancing could be difficult to maintain, such as in grocery stores and pharmacies.

Please visit the CDC website for additional information:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html

+ Should farm labor operations limit their crew sizes or does social distancing and good hygiene suffice?

I am by no means an expert on operations for this, and this isn’t HR advice, but my recommendation is if you can comply with the general recommendations around hygiene and six feet of distance with your current crew sizes, you should maintain it. If you cannot maintain social distancing with your crew size, then you will have to adjust your protcols to achieve this.

+ My parents are in Mexico. My mom has AFib and my dad has diabetes and HTN. Should they come back to the US, or would you recommend they stay in Mexico?

These are considered underlying chronic health conditions. These conditions combined with their age puts them at increased risk of a serious infection from COVID-19. Things to consider before bringing them here: are there more cases in the town they’re in than in the town they’re coming to? What is the situation at the border? Is it even feasible to bring them over?

+ How does the 6 feet social distancing affect bus rides to and from work for ag employees?

The recommendation even in public transportation is to stay at least 6 feet away from each other. This may be difficult in practice. If there’s a crowded bus, skip it and wait for the next one. That might mean you’re a little late to work, but it’s important at this time for employers to be lenient for the sake of themselves and their employees.

+ What is the protocol for being in an office with over 10 employees where clients are still coming in and out of the office?

Maintain at least 6 feet of distance. If you’re still meeting with clients, it’s a good idea to keep a log of who you’re meeting with and when. In case someone in the office tests positive, you can notify everyone who might have been exposed to that person.

+ Is it safe for pregnant women to continue going to the doctor’s office? Are they considered compromised persons?

Pregnant women could potentially be at a higher risk of serious infection. I would not recommend skipping regular checkups, but talk to your doctor about what can be done to minimize risk of infection. If a pregnant woman gets sick, she needs to contact her doctor immediately.

+ How would you recommend going out to get supplies? Wear gloves, sanitize, etc.?

Try to get your supplies delivered, if possible. While your delivered items will encounter others (such as the delivery person), there’s a chance that fewer people in the community touched that item. If you must go, make sure you pick a time that’s low traffic. You don’t necessarily need to wear gloves or masks if you are healthy but be very careful about hand hygiene.

+ Can COVID-19 be transmitted to pets?

This answer has been updated.

Our understanding of how COVID-19 can impact pets is still evolving. As a precaution, the CDC recommends that if you’re sick to try and maintain distance from your pet and maybe have someone else take care of them during that time.

+ My grandson is coming home from college. Someone in the house is undergoing chemotherapy. Should we have him stay in another location for at least 7 days before he enters our home?

These are difficult calls to make because there is no way to say 100% that there is no risk. With that, if there is known spread at the college, then he should probably quarantine for 14 days. If there are no known cases and your grandson is perfectly healthy and shows no symptoms, there is low risk that he could transmit the virus.

+ Is soap and water better than rubbing alcohol?

The CDC recommends hand washing or alcohol-based hand sanitizers, so whichever is most convenient is fine.

+ Does opening windows for air circulation in the office and in buses help reduce risks of contamination?

Currently, there's no clear data that supports or dispels this.

+ Are any type of mask suitable to use for COVID-19?

Healthcare providers typically use N95 and they’re fitted for them. We have a huge shortage of masks right now and they need to be prioritized for healthcare workers. If you can get your hands on one of these, great, otherwise any mask that you wear when you’re sick is fine.

+ If a colleagues wife is pregnant and our operation is open to the general public, should he continue to work or take time off?

At this time in California, any employee that can work from home is encouraged to do so to minimize spread.

+ In consideration of privacy regulations, how do employers address the discovery of an infected employee who may have been in contact with other employees?

This is a challenging situation because the most common ways you would find out if an employee is infected is if the employee tells you or if the public health department tells you. You then must do whatever you can to maintain confidentiality while still having to gather the appropriate information for risk assessment. This means figuring out which other employees or office visitors might have been within six feet of the infected person for a prolonged period, all while maintaining confidentiality.

+ Is COVID-19 cured in China?

There are no FDA-approved drugs yet for the cure, treatment, or prevention of COVID-19.

+ Does coronavirus travel through open wounds?

This is not known to be a common mode of transmission. COVID-19 typically spreads person-to-person through respiratory droplets.

+ What about newborn babies' risks?

The vast majority of cases of COVID-19 are in adults. We still do not fully understand the risk to newborn newborns and young children.

Testing

+ Is drive-thru testing for COVID-19 available in California?

They’re available in some areas and opening in others but typically require a doctor’s order in order to visit.

+ Can you speak about the home test kits currently being advertised? When is it appropriate to use and what are the steps to effectively utilizing home testing?

This answer has been updated. The FDA clarified their stance on home test kits after the webinar.

At this time, the FDA has not authorized any test that people can purchase themselves for home testing of COVID-19. The FDA recognizes that this method could expand the availability of testing but wants to ensure safe and accurate tests that could include home collection. They are actively collaborating with test developers to explore this option.

+ What is the protocol if you have been in contact with someone who has had secondary contact to a person who has tested positive?

That’s considered a contact of contact and you’re assumed to have the risk of the general population as long as your direct contact has no symptoms and no confirmation that he or she got infected with COVID-19. There’s no routine testing of contacts of contacts.

+ Do UnitedAg’s Health & Wellness Centers have testing kits available?

Yes, all of the UnitedAg wellness centers have received testing supplies. In case the testing supplies run out, plans are in place to refer members to third party facilties to conduct testing. But please call them in advance if you have symptoms!

+ Will any UnitedAg services be impacted by the California Shelter in Place order?

No. We are working our hardest to ensure minimal to no impact on our membership.

Travel

+ What are considered “hot spots?”

This changes hour by hour, but New York is one of the biggest hot spots in the country, and certain parts of California are considered hot spots as well. Other hot spots include foreign countries that are on level 3 or above travel bans and much of Europe. The best thing to do is check the news of the area you traveled to or are currently in to figure out if there's been a lot of community spread. This information is usually posted on your local county’s Public Health Department website.

+ If my boyfriend traveled back from the Netherlands 8 days ago, should he get tested? He didn’t have contact with anyone that had it.

If he isn’t showing symptoms, he probably won’t get tested. We’re prioritizing testing to those that show symptoms within 14 days. If he develops symptoms in the next 6 days, then yes, he should get tested. Knowing what we know about transmission without symptoms, it’s probably a good idea to stay home as much as possible just in case you have been infected.

Behavioral Health

Food Supply

+ Do you have list of resources for food banks etc. that are essential for employees that may be placed off work and/or decide to shelter in place?

*Second Harvest of Orange County

*Feeding America

*Food Bank For Monterey County

*Food Bank Santa Barbara County

*Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano

*Central CA Food Bank

*Second Harvest Food Bank of San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties

*Food Share of Ventura County

*Find Food Bank Indio

*Yuma Community Food Bank

+ If our food supply is limited, what are some recommended vitamins and minerals to supplement?

In preparation for that, I would try to stock up on (not hoard) frozen fruits and vegetables. If that’s not possible, any daily vitamin should be fine. There is no specific brand that I recommend.