Tracking that Pesky Virus

What do you do when you feel like your safety isn't being truely valued at the place you work?

Tracking that Pesky Virus

So many thoughts and feelings this year. I haven't talked a whole lot about any of it other than the most stressful parts a month or so ago. I have started to write up a follow up to explain where things are now, but it isn't finished. I'll link it here when I do eventually get it out. For now, I want to talk a bit about the back and forth information about how to tackle COVID-19 and a recent infection at my workplace... Let's just dive in.

So, based on what we know about the virus. The incubation period is 2-14 days. It could take 2 weeks or 2 days for you to show symptoms. With in that time frame you could be contagious. The best feature about this virus is that everyone shows different symptoms and if you grouped 100 people in a room, 6 people would die from it. (based on pure percentages on a flat number of cases and number of deaths globally) Another thing the CDC recommended is if you were in close contact with someone that had been diagnosed, then you should self quarantine and get tested.

Initially they said not everyone can get tested because there aren't enough tests. So if you are having flu like symptoms, it may be time to get a test done to find out if you have contracted COVID-19. Problem with doing that kind of testing pattern, you only identify those who have moderate or severe cases and you miss those who have mild or no symptoms at all.

When you want to identify where a virus is going and how quickly it is spreading but you are only testing those who are moderately to severely ill, your statistics become skewed in favor of the worst case because you are missing all possible contractions of the virus. So.. that's not good. And there was a lot of panic because the media loves skewed numbers.

To me, it seems to make sense that if you are in close contact or in a general area where someone has contracted the virus, you should quarantine for at least 14 days to limit the possibility of passing it along. They still aren't giving out tests to those who aren't showing symptoms so that to me seems to be the best course of action.

Next, speaking to various employers and colleagues from all over the state, the general consensus seems to be, work from home until September / October. Then they will start thinking about letting people back in to their offices. My employer, even though I hold a similar position, is requiring people to be at work, due to "productivity" and "management issues" of their employees. They wanted everyone to come in as soon as Utah went to orange but I pushed back on that feeling like it was too soon. I wanted to see if the effects of lessening restrictions would have an impact on the overall numbers.

Over the last few days, someone was diagnosed at work with COVID and they came in two days exhibiting symptoms. The company I work for isn't that large. So the possibility of me contracting the virus is higher than I think someone working for a large company. The other thing is hand sanitizer isn't readily available at every door and people have forgone masks all together. I've fist bumped a ton of handshakes and people seem to have forgotten what the personal space requirement is recommended. If I can smell your breath, you might be too close. So often I end up doing a shimmy down a hallway or room because these people want to be close and I want to stay away. I honestly feel a little hopeless about it.

The first day back into the office I came home and said if someone gets sick at work, there is no way I'm not getting sick based on how people are acting and treating personal space.

This argument doesn't apply to all roles or job types but I feel like if I have the ability to work from home why not allow it. Why not promote it especially if I am feeling uneasy about being at work. I've mentioned being uneasy multiple times. But the general feeling is to be there because everyone else is. I've found, especially if you are a new hire, that it doesn't matter if you are at work or at home if you are entirely dependent on people who can't be found at work or on the messaging platform you talk to everyone on. So, why not be at home?

To add some additional frustration to that heaping pile, find that a lot of your previous colleagues are being told not to come in for another few months. Those companies are recognizing and demonstrating two things I find important.

  1. People's well being is important.
  2. Being physically at work doesn't mean you are more productive. (It can in some cases, but I've seen otherwise in many others.)

So, here I am. I feel like the risk could be low. I don't know the person, they work on a different floor. But say they were in contact with their manager and their manager knows someone on my team. That's only 2 people between me and the virus. But at the same time, I don't see other people being as anal about maintaining distances. Going for handshakes or any physical contact at all.

The way my employer has addressed the current infection is that those that have been in contact with that person, needs to be home and get tested. In my opinion, if the company is small enough, why not just send everyone to work from home for the next two weeks. Everyone already knows how to do it and since there is a 14 day incubation period it will keep people from spreading it around at work without knowing they have it. It's the safest option. Unless everyone is able to get a test - which we already know they won't test you unless you are exhibiting symptoms - you could be going back to work and spreading it around thinking you are fine. 14 days is more than enough time to talk to enough people who talk to more people to infect the entire company.