ACHI’s Health Policy Board issued a statement today (April 23) directed at public and private employers across the state who are dealing with the challenges of doing business during the COVID-19 pandemic. The statement reads:
“As Arkansans continue to navigate the uncharted waters of COVID-19 and state and community leaders consider next steps, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement Health Policy Board encourages Arkansas employers to adopt individual hygiene, social distancing, and transmission reduction strategies. These include entryway and internal signage, established handwashing expectations, enhanced cleaning efforts, and worksite distancing. In addition, we encourage employers to consider strategies to achieve universal facial covering when twelve foot diameter spacing (6 feet in all directions) is not able to consistently be maintained to safeguard both their employees and customers.”
ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson said the board’s intent is to reinforce and expand on guidance from Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state health officials. He said that although those officials have advised the use of proper hygiene, social distancing, and facial covering when social distancing is not possible, adherence to these practices is not always in evidence in Arkansas places of business.
“Wearing a mask is not about protecting yourself, it is protecting others in case you are infected but asymptomatic. The virus spreads through water droplets emitted when a person coughs, sneezes, or even talks,” Thompson said. “Too many individuals in stores and places of employment across Arkansas are not protecting individuals around them by covering their faces.”
As Arkansas proceeds down the path of gradually relaxing public health restrictions and guidelines implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19, our social interactions will increase. Maintaining social distancing, and the wearing of facial coverings when social distancing is not possible, is everyone’s responsibility, Dr. Thompson said.
“Guidelines on social distancing and facial covering are likely to be among the last things lifted,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance on preventing the spread of COVID-19 includes recommendations to:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available.
- Stay at least 6 feet from other people when out in public.
- Wear a cloth facial covering in a public setting where social distancing is difficult to maintain, such as a grocery store or pharmacy.
The CDC has provided guidance on proper use of cloth facial coverings and no-sew instructions for making your own.