We’ve heard from dozens of American businesses in the past few weeks that have had difficulty contact tracing after one of their employees fell ill with the novel coronavirus, Covid-19.
The contact tracing process is a new challenge for these businesses, and on several occasions it led to broad closures of operations because it could not be determined with enough clarity who the unwell employee had been in contact with.
This problem is set to gain more urgency with states such as Virginia introducing regulations that require employers to notify staff who have been exposed to ill co-workers within 24 hours of the coworker testing positive for Covid-19.
To ensure your company can meet these requirements and to avoid making basic mistakes with your contact tracing efforts, here are three important lessons from our conversations to take back to your business:
Mistake 1: Relying on employee interviews
Several of the businesses worst impacted by the coronavirus case had relied on interviewing their unwell employee to ask who they had been in contact with. In some cases the person was not well enough to speak with the company representatives, and even when they were able to speak, their memory was limited of who they had connected with over the previous days. In one case an employee even refused to cooperate with the interview process.
The lesson here is that you need to be collating data on the go so you are not relying on the memory of workers, particularly unwell workers, to patch together a contact list of who to notify and isolate. This data collection needs to be done continuously every day so you have clear data going back at least 14 days.
Mistake 2: Not having easily actionable data
Any type of process to log your staff members’ contact with each other is a good start, but we’ve spoken to companies who were having their team write down contacts - and they found that this was a very difficult task to figure out the full list of contacts to reach out to. Firstly, a manual process like this is easily forgotten or may exclude informal interactions. Secondly, getting access to and collating notes from different sources is a challenge. Thirdly, calculating second degree contacts is almost impossible.
An automated solution solves this by logging contact data without workers needing to remember to take notes - and then constructs individualized contact tables for each worker. These contact tables include second and third degree contacts and are filterable to your own or CDC guidelines on how to define a contact. They are also ready to be downloaded with one click and immediately actioned. Read more about collecting actionable contact information.
Mistake 3: Underestimating the financial impact
All companies we’ve spoken to who were forced to make closures of offices (including shutdown of valuable operations, inhibiting their ability to generate revenue) due to the coronavirus had underestimated the cost that one or two cases of Covid-19 would have on their business.
A lack of social distancing combined with no contact tracing solution ended in unnecessary absences and failed to prevent spread of the virus within the office, leading to further decreased productivity. There has also been negative media attention about businesses ‘getting it wrong’.
We hope you avoid these mistakes when you return to work and tackle the challenge of contact tracing.
Our SaferMe team is ready to help with automated contact tracing that collates contact tables while protecting the privacy of users, and makes it easier for your business to react with speed to notify and isolate anyone exposed to a positive case of Covid-19 in your organization. Book a meeting for a no-obligation call.