COVID-19 Updates

August 25, 2021

COVID In The Workplace Resource Guide

 

In response to many calls from our members, related to managing COVID in the workplace, the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce has assembled the following resource material. The information presented is not intended as medical or legal advice, but rather a source-cited guide for our members.

What should I do to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace?

The United States Department of Labor, Occupational Health & Safety Administration issued updated guidance on August 13, 2021 on protecting workers from the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, including environmental controls, training and protocols for workers who are infected, unvaccinated workers who have had close contact with someone who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, and all workers with COVID-19 symptoms.

CLICK HERE TO READ FULL UPDATED OSHA GUIDANCE 

UPDATED AUGUST 13, 2021

When is it safe for an employee to return to work following a COVID-positive test?

Accumulating evidence, reported by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, supports ending isolation and precautions for persons with COVID-19 using a symptom-based strategy. Specifically, researchers have reported that people with mild to moderate COVID-19 remain infectious no longer than 10 days after their symptoms began, and those with more severe illness or those who are severely immunocompromised remain infectious no longer than 20 days after their symptoms began. Therefore, CDC has updated the recommendations for discontinuing home isolation as follows:

Persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:

  • At least 10 days* have passed since symptom onset and

  • At least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and

  • Other symptoms have improved.

*A limited number of persons with severe illness may produce replication-competent virus beyond 10 days, that may warrant extending duration of isolation for up to 20 days after symptom onset. Consider consultation with infection control experts.

 

How can I use antigen testing to prevent the spread of COVID in the workplace and better manage my labor force needs?

Antigen tests are an effective tool to help employers prevent the spread COVID-19 in the workplace. Antigen tests, when used for screening employees in non-healthcare workplaces, can detect current infection before an employee enters the workplace or returns to work. Antigen tests are

  • Easy to give

  • Quick to return results

  • Low in cost

Antigen tests are especially useful for screening because they can identify staff

  • With COVID-19 who do not have signs or symptoms and no known exposure to COVID-19

  • Who are at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19, such hospitality workers, business travelers and those who work in crowded indoor spaces

 

The Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce offers all members and their employees free, rapid-response COVID antigen testing, most weekdays from 9 -10 a.m. by appointment.

 

The Fredericksburg Fire EMS has partnered with the Good Samaritan Center and the Hill Country Community Needs Council to distribute self-administered COVID-19 tests. Contact the Needs Council at 830-997-9756 for details.

CLICK HERE TO READ FULL CDC GUIDANCE & RESOURCE LINKS FOR WORKPLACES & BUSINESSES

UPDATED AUGUST 24, 2021

 

Can I make vaccination a condition of employment? Can I require symptom screening or testing of employees and what if they refuse? What violates medical confidentiality or the ADA? What can I require of a COVID-positive employee to return to work?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission maintains a technical assistance question and answer page on their website. Each question is annotated with the date of the most recent update.

CLICK HERE TO READ FULL EEOC TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE QUESTIONS & ANSWERS 

UPDATED MAY 28, 2021

Is my company eligible to receive tax credits on wages paid to workers for COVID sick leave or time needed to get a vaccine?

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) allows small and midsize employers, and certain governmental employers, to claim refundable tax credits that reimburse them for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave to their employees due to COVID-19, including leave taken by employees to receive or recover from COVID-19 vaccinations. The ARP tax credits are available to eligible employers that pay sick and family leave for leave from April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021.

 

Paid leave mandates created under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act expired on December 31, 2020.

CLICK HERE TO READ IRS ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS & PROCESS TO CLAIM CREDITS

UPDATED JULY 28, 2021

August 13, 2021
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August 12, 2021

Public COVID-19 Testing Available

Due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Gillespie County, the demand for COVID testing in the community has also risen. Fredericksburg Fire EMS has partnered with the Good Samaritan Center and the Hill Country Community Needs Council to distribute self-administered COVID-19 tests. The Good Samaritan Center has purchased the first 500 tests and delivered those to the Needs Council for distribution into the community.

In order to receive a free home test kit:

  1. Go to the Needs Council, 1904 N. Llano, Fredericksburg Texas 78624. Hours are Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. - noon & 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

  2. Upon arrival, stay in your car and call (830)997-9756. You will be asked for your last name and number of people in your household.

  3. Staff will label your bag of test kits with your last name and place it on the outside table for you to collect.

  4. Please follow social distancing guidelines as others seeking tests will likely be symptomatic as well.

 

Testing kits are also available for purchase at Walgreens, H-E-B, and Wal-Mart.

If someone in your household tests positive, they should self-isolate and seek medical care from your healthcare provider as additional testing may be necessary. It is recommended they seek out a PCR test for verification of the positive test. PCR test locations in our area can be found at https://sanantonio.curativeinc.com. Follow up with your primary physician or seek medical care if necessary.

For those wishing to be vaccinated for COVID-19, vaccination sites in Fredericksburg include Walgreens, H-E-B, Wal-Mart, and ValuMed Pharmacy. Local healthcare providers may also offer the vaccine.

For any questions, please contact the Needs Council at 830.997.9756 or Catherine Kuhlmann, Fredericksburg Fire EMS Infectious Disease Control Officer, at 830.992.9218.

August 2, 2021

Due to a significant increase in COVID Testing requests by our members, the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce has resumed online scheduling of test appointments.

 

Beginning Wednesday, August 4, Chamber members and their employees may schedule a FREE rapid-response COVID test between 9-10 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, using the link below. If demand continues to increase, additional testing times will be added.

 

All testing appointments scheduled by phone prior to August 4 will be conducted as planned - no need to make an online reservation.

 

The Chamber uses Abbott Laboratory's BinexNow Ag Card test kit, which is administered with a minimally-invasive nasal swap. Results will be shared at the time of testing and confirmed via email and text, typically within two hours of testing.

 

Masks are required for all testing appointments. Please bring your drivers license.

CLICK HERE to schedule a Rapid COVID test

 

 

 

July 30, 2021

Pop-Up Vaccination site at Fredericksburg United Methodist Church Saturday, July 31

Saturday, July 31, the Fredericksburg United Methodist Church is partnering with Hill Country Memorial Hospital to host a pop-up vaccination site from 9am - 1pm in the church gymnasium at 1800 North Llano Street. It will be the one-time Johnson & Johnson vaccination and all vaccines are free. Wear a mask and bring a Valid ID. No appointment or reservation is necessary. 

Licensed medical staff through Hill Country Memorial Hospital will be on-site and administering all vaccines. If you'd like to volunteer in some other way, you may contact the Fredericksburg United Methodist Church Director of Outreach, Chandler Sager at chandler@fredumc.org.

July 28. 2021

COVID-19 Update - Delta Variant

 

The number of active cases of COVID-19 in Gillespie County has doubled in the last week, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

 

With Delta variant spreading, the number of hospitalized Texans has increased to levels not seen since March and Hill Country Memorial is no exception. Dr. James Partin, HCM Chief Medical officer, has indicated a patient load that has exceeded the staffed-bed capacity of the hospital, necessitating transfer of patients that could otherwise be cared for locally. He cited a chronic national shortage of nursing staff, alongside the absence of state-contracted nurses that helped hospitals through the COVID surge in the first quarter of the year and urged state officials to consider additional support.

 

The Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council (STRAC), designated by DSHS to develop, implement and maintain the regional trauma and emergency healthcare system for the 22 counties in Trauma Service Area - P advised hospitals to reach out to local officials and prepare for additional cases and hospitalizations as the COVID Delta variant spreads. "By the end of August, we have been told to expect a 30% increase in hospitalizations," said Partin.

 

Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance for fully-vaccinated individuals to include recommendations to wear a mask indoors in public in areas of substantial or high transmission. CLICK HERE for a county-by-county map of transmission rates and other data.

 

Free COVID-19 vaccines are available locally at H-E-B, Value Med, Walgreens and Walmart. Local physician offices also have available vaccines.