COVID-19 Update #5: How to Reopen the US Safely... And What We Can Learn from China

Work from home. Stay inside. Quarantine. Lockdown. These are just a few words and phrases that have frequently and perpetually appeared in our daily vocabulary ever since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. As we fought through the constant battle with the invisible enemy for the past six months, there are finally signs of recovery within certain parts of the country and the world. While it is true that we are nowhere near being back to complete normalcy anytime soon, our progress on this fight has warranted the emergence of a new word: Reopening.

We Are Going to Reopen... But What's Next?

The reopening of the US is not an easy task. It is especially difficult to guarantee the safety of the public given the uncertainty and variability of the health status for each individual. Therefore, the considerably elevated amount of risks associated with reopening mandates strict safety measures within the workplace.

China, in its reopening, has done a phenomenal work by implementing various guidelines and measures of protection. For example, it is mandatory for every employee to report his or her daily temperature and health status and to wear a face mask when returning to work. Reopening guidelines in China can roughly be summarized in three categories, namely targeting employees, employers and building management. We highlighted a few implementations below.

Employees Guidelines:

  • Daily temperature and health status reports

Each employee entering the workplace are stopped at the door, have his or her temperature taken using a contactless thermometer, and only when the employee has a temperature below 37.2 C and shows no symptoms including coughing or fever, can he/she enter the building.

  • Face masks

Regardless of being outside or not, face masks are recommended and mandated at all times during work hours in the office building.

  • Social-distancing

While in-person meetings are discouraged, if one absolutely must be held, social distancing rules must be followed. This includes avoiding handshakes, staying 6-feet apart, etc.

  • Self-isolation

All workers returning from an area at high-risk of COVID-19 must self-quarantine for 14 days and show no symptoms before returning to work.

Employers Guidelines:

  • Temperature checks

Employers much provide temperature checks for all employees before entering the building. Anyone who exhibits temperature of above 37.5 C is not allowed to enter.

  • Distribution of hand sanitizers and facemasks

Employers must provide free hand sanitizers stations and facemasks for all employees to practice hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. Hand sanitizers are effective in killing the virus and facemasks are proven to limit the spread of the virus.

  • Virtual meetings

Employers are instructed to encourage and promote the practice of virtual meetings whenever possible. It is also recommended to avoiding in-person meetings whenever possible.

  • Packed lunch delivered

Employers must provide packed lunches delivery to employees’ desks to avoid gathering in dining hall. The dangers of large gathering in the dining hall is overcrowding in a limited space. While there is no evidence to state that the coronavirus can spread through food, it still poses as a valid concern.

China Impletements Strict Anti-coronavirus Measures in Almost Everywhere

Building Guidelines

  • Sanitizing Foot Bathmat

Shoe soles can carry the COVID-19 virus as people walk. A wet shoes disinfectant mat outside the building soaked with disinfectants can kill viruses attached to soles effectively, and another dry mat inside dries the shoes quickly. This sanitizing foot bathmat helps limit the spread of contaminants.

  • Elevator Limit

Limitations are implemented for the maximum number of people allowed within the elevator. This is to prevent overcrowding of small spaces, as elevators are not effectively ventilated, making a high-risk place for spreading infectious diseases.

  • Ventilation

Windows must be opened at all times for thorough ventilation of the office building. Recent research has proven that the spread of coronavirus is significantly diminished in open space as compared to a closed area such as office building. Opening the windows for ventilation prevents the spread of coronavirus.

  • Office Disinfection

Disinfection are carried out twice daily in the office using spray/fogging. Once before the employees arrive at work, once after the work day is over. Disinfection sprays and fogging are efficient at killing the virus.

  • House disinfection

Cleaning the area or item in detail with EPA-registered household disinfectant can significantly lower the infection risk.

  • Decrease Contact

Contact with high-risk/high-contact surfaces is decreased. These high-contact areas include elevator buttons, doorknobs. The building provides a small bucket of cotton swabs which elevator passengers can use to press elevator buttons.

Route Disinfection of Office Spaces Is Necessary to Ensure Everyone's Safety

As US cities ease lockdown, valuable insights can certainly be learned and emulated from China’s implementation of its safety measures. A recent report by the CDC documents detailed recommendations of safety measures for reopening businesses, including mandatory face covering, hand hygiene etiquette, further social distancing behaviors, disinfection of the workplace, and so on.

While it is difficult and nearly impossible to follow all the guidelines at all times, each extra safety measure implemented will in turn correlate to an exponential increase in employee well-being. The above list summarizes quite a few guidelines in China that we can refer to. However, it is far from complete as there are different safety measures to follow for other situations such as transportation, tourist attraction sites etc.

Our sister company, Bridge Point Clean, aims to combat infectious diseases by providing both disinfecting services and sanitizing products. Their top-quality sanitizers and superior fogging services, using state-of-the-art technologies, help businesses recover in less than no time. At Bridge Point Clean, we are committed to offer the most professional disinfecting services, and eco-friendly hand sanitizers to allow businesses to become one-step closer to being fully protected.

On a larger scale than businesses, the reopening of cities is another subject of concern as novel coronavirus cases are still growing day-by-day. The only way to ensure the complete eradication of the virus is by testing every single individual within the country. Currently, the city of Wuhan, China, with a population of 11 million people, has already conducted over 10.9 million tests, nearing its ultimate saturation point. In our opinion, while mass and thorough testing is ideal, it is still far from being realistic in the US; with more than 19 million people residing in NY state alone, merely 2 million tests have been conducted as of June 6th.

A Complete Test to the Whole Population Seems Not Feasible in the U.S.

The U.S. must test smarter, not harder. Although we acknowledge that China’s mass testing is the ideal solution, however, it is not realistic in the U.S. for various reasons. With that in mind, we believe the best practice for testing in the U.S. is by utilizing contact tracing technology and conduct tests for those who have been in contact with high-risk individuals. By effectively identifying those who are at higher-risk and separating them from those who are at no-risk, we can efficiently give tests to those who need it the most, circumvent the stringent demands of testing, and mitigate the spread of the virus to expedite the reopening process.

Now All 50 U.S. state have taken steps toward reopening. On Monday, June 8th, New York City entered Phase 1 of a four-part reopening plan. Despite the progress we have made amidst this grueling battle, there is a long way to go from the eradication of COVID-19. Hand sanitizing, face masks, social-distancing, and other disease-preventing etiquettes will likely become part of our everyday life. For reopening, implementing disinfecting process in hospitals, schools, offices and other high-traffic locations would be crucial. With the ongoing efforts provided by our professionals, Bridge Point Capital and Bridge Point Clean will be able to help businesses get back to their feet and rejuvenate the city with life once again.