Once you have assessed the risk factors for your practice location and procedures, it is imperative to communicate with your team regarding what your plan is for working with clients and patients in light of those risk factors. When formulating a plan for how you and your team will handle patients and clients, it is essential to be familiar with how COVID-19 is spread and the available methods to deal with it based on the hierarchy of controls mentioned later in this document.
Be prepared that perception and concern regarding COVID-19 is likely to vary among team members so team members should be engaged when developing any protocols related to safety.
Be prepared that perception and concern regarding COVID-19 is likely to vary among team members so team members should be engaged when developing any protocols related to safety. Also be prepared to address questions related to compensation and the use of sick leave in the event of a team member’s absence. As an employer, be familiar with ongoing legislative activities regarding your obligations to staff (as well as the economic benefits to which you are entitled). AVMA has resources that can help you at avma.org/Coronavirus.
COVID-19 is generally transmitted between people via droplets unless something is done to aerosolize the virus (e.g., suctioning of respiratory patients, bronchoscopy, ultrasonic dental scaling, high-pressure sprayers).
Droplet transmission occurs when droplets created by coughing, sneezing, and vocalization are deposited on the mucous membranes. These droplets are typically large, can generally travel only approximately 1 to 2 m (3 to 6 feet), and do not remain suspended in the air.
Airborne transmission occurs when small droplets or particles that are created remain suspended in the air for extended periods and are inhaled. These small droplets or particles can be disseminated by air currents in a room or through a facility.
While it appears that SARS-CoV-2 is not easily spread from humans to animals, and there is currently no evidence to suggest that animals that may be incidentally infected by humans play a role in further human spread of COVID-19, routine infection control standards should be followed as outlined by the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians’ (NASPHV). This is because animals are able to transmit other zoonotic pathogens.
Ensuring that your team is knowledgeable about COVID-19, its transmission, and their risk level while at work should help to alleviate some of the stress that comes with the uncertainty of how this pandemic will affect their health and job.