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COVID-19 Advisory: Coffee Signs ~ Alabama “Safer at Home” ~ Homage to Bromage

May 22, 2020
To: All Domestic Employees
From: Pandemic Working Group
Re: COVID-19: Coffee Signs ~ Alabama “Safer at Home” ~ Homage to Bromage

Survival of the Fittest
Through an impressive demonstration of adapting to the circumstances, my favorite coffee shop (Kean in Tustin) has managed to remain open during the entire pendency of the pandemic. Early on, they stacked tables and chairs, changed foot traffic patterns, posted the rules of ordering and were among the first establishments to wear face coverings and then to require patrons to do so. This sign, from their front door, presents claims about the efficacy of cloth face coverings in public spaces. You may have seen it before. Before waxing poetic about the sign, though, I thought that I would check on its validity. According to snopes.com (fact-checking mavens), the origin of the data is uncertain and, in fact, research at this stage cannot confirm these numbers specifically. However, as reported in the Tampa Bay Times three days ago, Harvard University’s Thomas Tsai, M.D., says that cloth masks form a part of an overall approach toward minimizing contagion and that wearing them is a “very, very small price to pay to be safe and to return to society.” Interestingly, in the same article, Linsey Marr of Virginia Tech says that cloth masks can reduce the amount of virus spread as well as the amount that we inhale. In fact, she notes that studies show some homemade cloth coverings can block against inhalation of a virus 80% of the time. Whether it is entirely accurate, in an establishment that has implemented other restrictions, to my thinking, this sign is a good sign.

Alabama Lifts Restrictions
As reported in the Alabama Political Reporter, Governor Kay Ivey announced that, effective today at 5:00 pm, the state is easing restrictions on various businesses and gatherings including dine-in restaurants, salons, gyms and health clubs, theaters, bowling alleys and even athletic facilities. In all cases, social distancing is required. In many capacity limits of 50% are mandatory. And face coverings are a common theme. With respect to Axis facility, the amended order does not change any of our existing COVID protocols relating to distancing, hygiene and sanitation, which we will continue to observe. However, if you live in Alabama, it is worth reading the amended order so that you are not taken by surprise when you enter any affected establishment. We are making arrangements to provide the order to management team in Axis for distribution to our employees. Or you can go to the following link to read it directly: https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/legal/assets/order-adph-cov-gatherings-052120.pdf.

At yesterday’s press conference, Governor Ivey explained that, while the state’s “numbers are not as good as we would hope,” she could no longer stand by and watch businesses collapse. She nevertheless emphasized that the key to the pandemic is “personal responsibility by the businesses of Alabama and by individuals.” Pictured to the left is a graph from the Alabama Public Health Department showing the state’s pandemic infection trend by day, 7- and 14-day trailing average. Against this backdrop, the governor summed it up by saying, “It’s now time that we move forward and further open our state and lives with a new normal of incorporating COVID-19 precautions into our routine.”

Homage to Bromage
On May 13, we covered a piece by Dr. Erin Bromage of University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, which applied the principles of infectious disease studies to everyday life. As you may recall, he posits the “Dose x Time” equation for infection. That article has, pardon the expression, gone viral with over 17 million views. Yesterday, MSNBC interviewed Dr. Bromage on helpful hints for the coming weekend. This is the crux of the exchange: beaches – low risk if you keep your group six feet or more from strangers’ groups; restaurants – outside eating is definitely lower risk, although some places have (without a great deal of guidance from governments) engineered the premises to maximize airflow and distancing inside; and grocery stores – here again, with restrictions on the number of customers and workers, Plexiglas shields at the registers, face coverings and floor-marked distancing, grocery shopping can be a low risk proposition. Finally, if you’re having guests over for a cookout, great – just don’t share your plate. I never do anyway. Have a great weekend. 

If you have any questions or comments on this advisory, please contact either kellyw@amvac.com or timd@amvac.com.

COVID-19 Advisory: Coffee Signs ~ Alabama “Safer at Home” ~ Homage to Bromage