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Mike Anderson, KSL TV

Health departments struggle to keep up with COVID-19 outbreaks in workplaces

By Mike Anderson, KSL TV | Posted - Jul. 13, 2020 at 9:27 p.m.

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OGDEN, Utah – Workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 continue to be a big concern for health departments in Utah and some have been struggling to keep up with requests for help.

Many departments have teams dedicated to those workplace outbreaks. However, staffing is a problem in some cases because a handful of people are helping a dozen or more worksites.

That’s why they said everyone needs to do their part.

Working from home is an easy solution, but not everyone can do that.

“If we wait to find a case, we’re behind the curve,” said Brian Hatch, director of the Davis County Health Department.

Hatch said everyone needs to be proactive because as people move indoors to tighter spaces, the risk goes up.

Brian Hatch, director of the Davis County Health Department. (Photo: Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

“What I do is try to keep sanitizer, wash my hands frequently. I do all the things that we’ve been told repeatedly, over and over — don’t touch my face, you know. Come in contact with a surface, I’ll wash my hands after that,” Hatch added.

The Weber-Morgan Health Department had 12 new worksite outbreaks within just the past few days. They all reached out for help.

The state COVID-19 task force said when there is an outbreak, employers should wait 24 hours before disinfecting, clean visibly dirty and high-touch surfaces and disinfect again.

“And in some cases, these are ideals but we’re going to try and work with worksites as we go through this on a daily basis,” said Jesse Bush, director of health promotion for Weber and Morgan counties.

Jesse Bush, director of health promotion for Weber and Morgan counties. (Photo: Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

He said that’s why it’s important employees and employers take precautions seriously.

“Making sure you check for symptoms, check with those around you. In some cases, you spend more time with the people at work than you do with the people in your own household,” Bush said.

Hatch added these practices should go beyond the workplace. For instance, wear face masks since outbreaks are also showing up from gatherings.

“Whether it’s a worksite, a family reunion … all the same. It’s the same principles no matter where we’re at,” Hatch said.

In addition to workplace outbreak teams, many departments are now getting help from contact tracers and the National Guard.

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