Austin, Texas – April 14, 2021 –ReturnSafe, the comprehensive software solution for infectious disease management (IDM) helping businesses reopen and stay open, today released findings from its new study on return-to-work strategies and the future of infectious disease in the workplace. Findings paint an uncertain future as companies struggle to develop strategies to bring employees back to work safely. More than half of survey respondents do not currently have policies on vaccination requirements (52 percent) or managing future infectious diseases outbreaks (49 percent).
“Returning to a sense of normalcy is palpable. After a year of navigating remote work that negatively impacted business outcomes for many, it’s understandable that employers want to get people back into physical workspaces as soon as possible,” said Tarun Nimmagadda, CEO and Co-Founder of ReturnSafe. “But the pandemic isn’t over, and future outbreaks remain a threat to employee health and wellbeing. We need to ensure that every workplace has a long-term solution to address issues related to COVID-19 and beyond. It’s clear from our survey findings that employees are extremely concerned about how employers plan to manage vaccinations, social distancing, and infectious diseases down the line.”
Key findings from the report show:
Remote work has hurt company growth, culture, and employee wellbeing: 58 percent of respondents said that their company has been negatively impacted by not having employees in a physical workspace
Getting back to work is a high priority for companies and employers, but employees have major concerns: 63 percent of respondents said they plan to bring employees back to full capacity in 2021, but their employees have expressed concerns over vaccination policies, social distancing, and long-term impacts of infectious diseases
Business leaders are split on requiring COVID-19 vaccinations: 52 percent of respondents said they don’t yet have a policy in place on COVID-19 vaccination status and employee return-to-work eligibility, and only a bit more than half (58 percent) say they have plans in place to manage a mixed-immunity environment
COVID-19 has changed how we address sickness in the workplace, generally: 56 percent of respondents said the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their company’s overall sickness policy, from requiring sick employees to pass a screening test, to requiring sick employees to stay home, to requiring a doctor’s note to return to work
Future infectious diseases are a threat to business, but nearly half of respondents don’t have plans to manage them: 78 percent of respondents said that future infectious disease outbreaks are a threat or liability to business, but nearly half of them lack protocols to manage infectious diseases beyond COVID-19
“Our findings show that nearly half of employers don’t have a vaccination policy in place, meaning they must deal with the complexities of mixed-immunity environments,” said Jikku Venkat, Chief Technology Officer, Vice President of Product, and Co-Founder of ReturnSafe. “Companies need tools like daily health screeners, testing dashboards and case managers to not only prevent COVID-related healthcare costs from spiraling out of control, but to ease employees’ concerns and instill confidence that their health and safety is a top priority.”
A survey of 122 companies was conducted from March 17-31, 2021 to better understand how employers are planning return-to-work strategies and thinking about the future of infectious disease in the workplace. Respondents were asked 21 questions that pertain to the future of work and managing mixed-immunity work environments.
The Survey was commissioned and executed by ReturnSafe.
ReturnSafe is a holistic software solution for infectious disease management (IDM) that is helping businesses, universities, healthcare facilities, sports teams and major venues businesses reopen and stay open. Its end-to-end platform provides daily health screening, exposure notification, and contact tracing and case management for COVID-19 and other contagious diseases. ReturnSafe is based in Austin, TX and backed by Fifty Years, Necessary Ventures and Active Capital. To help keep everyone in your organization safe with human-driven, technology-supported solutions, visit https://www.returnsafe.com.
What should employers know about the new variants of COVID-19? How should management teams prepare for an increased number of cases?
News and Updates on the COVID-19 Variants
There are 3 new, highly transmissible variants: B.1.1.7 (UK), B1.351 or 501Y.V2 (South Africa), and P.1 (Brazil)
There is concern the COVID-19 variant mutations will have slightly weakened protection from the vaccines
We are not sure how effective certain viral tests are at identifying the variants
What businesses should know about the arrival of the new variants
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) website provides information and updates related to the COVID-19 variants.
What is a variant?
Viruses are constantly mutating and, over time, they can become variants. Some emerging variants disappear and others persist.
What do we know about the new variants?
Currently three variants of the virus have been identified in the U.S. which spread more easily and faster than previous variants.
UK Variant: What you need to know
One of the first variants to arrive in the US was the UK variant identified last fall. This variant is also referred to as B.1.1.7. According to CDC reports, this is expected to become the dominant variant in March.
Recent studies in the UK report that this variant may be more fatal than others. Further research is needed to confirm this. The variant was first detected in a US case last December.
South Africa Variant: What you need to know
The South African variant is known as B1.351 or 501Y.V2 and was first identified last October. This variant was first detected in a US case in late January.
Brazil Variant: What you need to know
The Brazil variant, also known as P.1, was identified in Brazilian travelers at an airport in Japan in January. Additional mutations in this variant may impact it being identifiable by antibodies. The mutations present a danger of reinfection and potential diminished vaccine efficacy if the variant is able evade our immune system. This variant was first detected in a US case in late January.
What we don’t know about the variants
Will the new variants impact the efficacy of the vaccine?
According to nature, scientists are still debating whether the new variants will impact the effectiveness of the current COVID-19 vaccines. There are vaccine developers that plan to update their shots to target the variants.
According to CNBC, the FDA may eliminate the lengthy clinical trial requirement for COVID-19 vaccines modified to work against the variants. Pfizer and Moderna are already working on modifying their vaccines given the variants and the current mutation rate. HR managers should monitor the variants that enter their workplace. They should have a system to keep track who has been vaccinated with the current vaccine and who receives the variant modified vaccines.
Further research is needed to identify how effectively the current vaccines work against the UK, Brazil, and South Africa variants.
Do the new variants impact the accuracy of COVID-19 tests?
The FDA has noted that the new COVID-19 variants may cause molecular tests to generate false negatives. Further studies are needed to identify the impact each new variant may have on the accuracy of COVID-19 tests.
Proactive health safety measures can help you prevent outbreaks
Health screening for work should be a requirement, if not already
Health screenings for work should be a requirement to ensure employee safety. Businesses will need to implement multiple health safety measures to manage the new variants and increased COVID-19 cases. Even organizations without state, local, or public health screening guidelines should make screening employees a requirement to prevent outbreaks,
Logging close contacts in the workplace is essential before employees report positive for a rapid response
California’s OSHA requires employers send exposure notifications to employees, contractors, and other employers within 24 hours. These notifications are to inform them that they were exposed to someone infected COVID-19. All business owners should send notifications to potentially exposed employees as soon as possible to prevent outbreaks.
Employers should have access to a platform where they can easily see which employees were exposed to the virus. Additionally, employees should be able to easily report their close contacts to create a safe and healthy workplace.
Encouraging and tracking vaccine adoption can help you achieve herd immunity
Despite what we don’t know about how vaccine efficacy is impacted by variants, it is still best to get vaccinated. The current vaccines will still have the benefit of strengthening your immune system overall and potentially lessen the impact of a COVID-19 variant infection. As Dr. Fauci notes, the vaccines provide protection from the virus and prevent emergence of new variants. Widespread vaccination is crucial to prevent new strains and mutations.
Time to review your safety protocols and ensure they will meet this new challenge
In the next few months, you will see a dramatic rise in cases due to the variants. Employers should feel confident that their pandemic safety program can handle it. Companies that do not prepare may face losses in productivity.
If your current process is manual, you will need more employees to manage the information. As the variants spread and new cases arise, you will need to hire more employees. Are you currently using paper-based screening surveys and manual contact tracers? Automating these processes can be more cost-effective and enables management to take action in real time to prevent outbreaks.
If your current solution is digital, does it meet all your needs? Employers should evaluate their current solution to ensure it meets all their pandemic safety requirements. Does their screening solution encourage and track compliance? Are administrators easily able to track close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases?
Employers, especially those for larger organizations should consider risk mitigation strategies. A broad based testing program allows organizations to identify asymptomatic cases and infection hotspots. Finally, employers should have a system in place to keep track of vaccines and workplace immunity levels.
The new CDC guidelines provide options to reduce COVD-19 quarantine in an effort to increase community compliance (1). This guidance relies on organizations integrating daily health screening and diagnostic testing with their quarantine management program. The CDC recommends a quarantine period of 14 days. The options for reducing quarantine are accepted by the CDC, however, they do carry a risk of post-quarantine transmission.
CDC Quarantine Alternative Options Recap
The CDC has accepted two options for reduced quarantine of 7 or 10 days. Both options include the continued adoption of preventive health measures. These measures include daily health screening and wearing masks throughout the 14 day quarantine period.
Option #1: 10 Day Quarantine
Employees can complete quarantine after 10 days without getting tested if the following criteria is met:
They have no symptoms of COVID-19 which they monitor and report on a daily basis.
Like any alternative option that offers to shorten the quarantine period there’s a risk. Residual post-quarantine transmission risk is about 1% with an upper limit of about 10%.
Option #2: 7 Day Quarantine
Employees can complete quarantine after 7 days if the following criteria are met:
They test negative for COVID-19 AND They have no symptoms of COVID-19 which they monitor and report on a daily basis.
This strategy has an increased level of risk. The residual post-quarantine transmission risk is estimated to be about 5% with an upper limit of about 12%.
What tools do you need for effective quarantine management?
Employers considering changing their quarantine protocol as a result of the CDC guidance should be mindful of the risk. An effective quarantine management solution should equip administrations with tools to evaluate risk amongst their workforce.
Whether you are choosing 7, 10, or 14 day quarantine period users should be reporting their symptoms regularly. Effective employee screening services must include a daily symptom checker where employees can report their health status even while in quarantine.
COVID-19 Test Data Management
Administrators must have a platform where they can see the number of employees tested for COVID-19 as well as their results.
Although not directly mentioned by the CDC, organizations are taking on the risk of post quarantine transmission. For this reason, we strongly recommend that employers establish a contact tracing plan. Administrators should be able to quickly reach out to employees who were in close contact with positive COVID-19 cases.
Should your organization adopt the new CDC guidelines?
For the well-being of you and the employees at your organization the CDC suggests a 14-day quarantine period. However, if your organization must shorten quarantine then this guidance should be followed according to the CDC’s criteria. Employers must have the tools to sustain daily symptom checks and diagnostic testing in order to be successful. We also recommend they implement a contact tracing solution to minimize the risks of adopting a shorter quarantine period.
Book a demo with our team to try our symptom screening and contact tracing tools!
The first approved COVID-19 vaccine hit the market and many are soon to follow. As 2020 comes to a close, has your organization begun to discuss a vaccine management program? Which employees have immunity and which don’t? What is the best way to manage in a mixed immunity environment? It’s time to begin these new conversations. Read our newsletter to see how we can help your organization prepare for the new year.
Vaccine Management for Employers: A Guide for 2021
As the COVID-19 vaccines hit the market, what does this mean for employers? Read our blog post to find out how a vaccine management plan will help businesses stay ahead in 2021. Read more
Case Study: How Madonna University Safely Returned to Campus this Fall
We are excited to help our higher education partners keep students, faculty and staff safe while on campus. Learn why Madonna University chose our solution. Download the Case Study
Case Study: Why Pennrose Chose ReturnSafe to Protect Their Residents and Staff
Find out how we are helping Pennrose keep 400+ essential workers across 10 states healthy and safe during the pandemic. Download the case study
Are you looking for screening, contact tracing, testing, and vaccine management tools for your organization? Book a demo with someone on our team to try our tools!
As the COVID-19 vaccines hit the market, what does this mean for employers?
What your business should be doing now
As we wait to gain access to the vaccine, employers need to focus on curbing the spread of COVID-19. The most effective methods for ensuring workplace safety are establishing preventive health measures. As a workplace wellness company, our goal is to help prepare and protect organizations from infectious disease. This article will guide you through COVID-19 vaccine insights and preventative measures that your organization should put into practice.
Currently, to prevent COVID-19 transmission, companies need to utilize symptom screening, contact tracing, surveillance testing, quarantine, and isolation management services. These tools keep human resource administrators in control of outbreaks.
Why vaccine management for employers requires preparation
In order to maintain a safe and healthy workplace, it is important to identify vulnerable communities. There is no guarantee when it comes to the percentage of employees that will receive vaccine immunization in the next year.
Due to concerns about efficacy, safety, and the rushed vaccine development timeline, many employees are hesitant about vaccine adoption (2). According to recent reports, 39% of Americans say they would not get the COVID-19 vaccine if it was available today (3).
Even in organizations with widespread vaccine adoption, vaccinations may not provide protection until a few weeks after inoculation (1). During that time, employees can still get COVID-19. These employees should be taking preventive health measures such as wearing a mask, social distancing, etc.
As we prepare for widespread vaccine distribution, businesses need an effective vaccine management plan. Their plans must account for state and local vaccine distribution plans, vaccine adoption rates, and overall vaccine availability.
COVID-19 workplace safety measures are still needed, vaccines will not immediately eliminate this
It is crucial that organizations understand that the vaccine rollout will not eliminate the need for existing COVID-19 prevention measures. We have limited information on the vaccine’s efficacy and employee adoption numbers are hard to judge at this time. Additionally, we are uncertain if the vaccine will protect individuals from further transmitting COVID-19, while remaining asymptomatic.
Masks and other safety measures will continue to be needed until we reach herd immunity. Herd immunity requires over 70% of people to have the antibodies either from fighting off the disease or receiving the vaccine. This could take 12 months or more depending on how many people have access to and opt out of the vaccine.
An effective vaccine management solution is keystone to a company’s holistic approach
Employers need a dashboard where they can identify and mitigate the risks at hand. Human resource administrators should have a 360 view of the workplace pandemic situation. Effective vaccine management for employers should provide employee vaccine status. Additionally vaccine information should be integrated with existing COVID-19 screening, testing, contact tracing, and case management tools.
Human resource teams and administrators need a streamlined way to manage relevant vaccine information. Vaccine management solutions should look at employees vaccine status, vaccine types, and date(s) administered. Employers should utilize a custom screening solution that can accommodate the rollout and adoption of different vaccines amongst their workforce.
Businesses shouldmaintain a vaccine management plan, even after the vaccine is widespread and available
Why? A key lesson that businesses learned this year is that disease control and prevention is crucial.
According to the CDC “Every year influenza, or “flu,” affects employers and businesses. A 2018 study found that the average economic burden of the flu in the U.S. is $11.2 billion (4). This calculation includes costs related to productivity loss (4). For employers, there are substantial benefits to encouraging vaccination, such as reducing employee absence and improving productivity (5).
COVID-19 is likely to present a significant economic burden as we work towards widespread vaccination efforts. As with the flu vaccine, employers will face difficulty gaining adoption. However, enacting a strong vaccination program has notable financial benefits.
Overall preventive health measures deserve a high priority in workplace safety programs. Businesses should have a long-term employee health and wellness plan built into their existing infrastructure.
Need help developing a vaccine management plan?Book a demo to learn more about how our solution can protect your business!
For more information on our vaccine management solution click here.
Spurs Sports & Entertainment today announced a new partnership with ReturnSafe, a mission-driven BioSecurity company focused on workplace health safety, to help safely bring employees back to the corporate offices at the AT&T Center.
“We chose ReturnSafe because they provide a single solution to quickly respond to potential risks when speed is critical to keeping our employees, fans, and guests safe,” said Casey Heverling, Vice President and General Manager of the AT&T Center. “With more than one million employees, fans, event attendees, and staff coming through our venues every year, their health and safety has always been our top priority and is more imperative now than ever before. We are excited to be able to reopen our corporate offices and offer our staff the confidence to return to the workplace that a solution like ReturnSafe provides, and eventually bring our fans back to the sporting events and concerts they love.”
The ReturnSafe BioSecurity Platform offers organizations an end-to-end solution that slows the spread of infectious diseases by implementing critical daily screening with a symptoms diary and recommendations governed by HR policies; testing data management for quick notification of a positive test; and Bluetooth contact-tracing via smartphone and hardware wearables at the workplace including a built-in social distancing alarm.
“ReturnSafe is a purpose-built solution that is focused on reducing an organization’s risk and liability by offering a way to help screen, trace and track infectious diseases like COVID-19 in the workplace including event venues,” said Tarun Nimmagadda, Founder and CEO of ReturnSafe. “We recognize the cost to businesses not being able to operate at full or even partial capacity can be devastating and we want to help customers like the Spurs bring back their employees to a safe work environment by working directly with our partners to design a solution that works for all of their needs.”
Spurs Sports & Entertainment has begun to roll out the ReturnSafe BioSecurity Platform to corporate employees and will introduce event health screening and contact tracing with event staff by the end of 2020 (read case study). ReturnSafe supports businesses in various industries including health and senior care organizations, educational institutions, event venues, non-profits, hospitality, manufacturing, law, real estate, financial services, and more, throughout the United States including Hawaii, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
About Spurs Sports & Entertainment Spurs Sports & Entertainment is the premier provider of sports and entertainment in South Texas. SS&E owns and operates the San Antonio Spurs (NBA), Austin Spurs (NBA G League), San Antonio FC (USL) and also manages the day-to-day operations of the AT&T Center and Toyota Field. For more information, visit the Spurs.
ReturnSafe is a mission-driven BioSecurity company focused on workplace health safety enabling businesses, healthcare organizations, educational institutions, and others to prevent and rapidly respond to biological threats, keeping their communities safe and their doors open. ReturnSafe’s BioSecurity Platform is a human-centric solution that focuses on slowing the spread of infectious diseases by implementing critical daily screening, exposure notification, and contact tracing case management. For more information schedule a meeting and for broadcast broll, please download here.