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WVPE News

Health Officials Urge Michiana Businesses To Take Precautions When Reopening

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Justin Hicks / WVPE
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With Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order lifted, many Michiana businesses are preparing to reopen. The St. Joseph County Health Department is urging local employers to take precautions.

The County Health Department is concerned about how employers will access testing as workers return and the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace increases.

Deputy Health Officer Mark Fox says right now, there is “reasonable” access to COVID-19 testing. The County is testing between 1,400 and 2,200 people per week and with the addition of a state testing site, that number will go up.

But that was under a stay-at-home order. Fox says once more people start going back to work, the demand for testing will increase and will be more difficult to meet.

“It would require fairly rapid, large scale deployment to try and test everyone, on top of meeting what has been our baseline with a low level of public interaction,” he says.

Fox says in a large manufacturing setting with a lot of employees, it would be harder to control a COVID-19 outbreak versus in a small retail shop.

But all businesses should have a plan for how to respond if and when an employee gets COVID-19.

“With the larger companies, they should prepare for and anticipate that one or more of their employees will become ill," he says. "As a County, we’re better off if everyone goes in with that mindset.”

Fox also recommends staggering work schedules, not allowing workers to congregate in break rooms, and to maintain social distancing among employees. 

Contact Annacaroline at acaruso@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @AnnacarolineC16

If you appreciate this kind of journalism on your local NPR station, please support it by donating at:  https://wvpe.thankyou4caring.org/ 

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