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Omicron COVID-19 Highlights – what we need to know

If you thought the coronavirus pandemic was disappearing from the news, you could not be further from the truth. Not only are legal challenges against the vaccine mandate persisting. A few days ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the so-called omicron variant as a variant of concern. The first cases have been detected in the United States. How will this affect your workplace?

Omicron in the U.S. What we already know

A few weeks ago, southern African countries started seeing a new coronavirus variant. In the United States, the first cases were detected at the beginning of December.

Like the delta variant, omicron showed numerous mutations compared to its predecessors. These mutations convinced the WHO to designate this variant immediately as a variant of concern, skipping the “variant of interest” stage.

Within days, governments reacted, with some closing their borders to travelers from several African countries. By that time, this new variant of the coronavirus had started spreading. As of this month, several Americans have been diagnosed with it.

Is This Variant More Dangerous?

At this stage, it is too early to say whether the omicron variant is more transmissible than its predecessors. Scientists are also not yet able to tell whether those infected are more likely to be hospitalized or at a higher risk of death. It is simply too early to say.

While some South African data suggests that more people are testing positive and becoming hospitalized, it is unclear whether omicron is to blame. A general increase in COVID-19 infections is an alternative explanation. At this moment, neither can be ruled out.

What HR Teams and Employers Need to Do Now

The coronavirus and its consequences have dominated their working lives for the past two years for many HR professionals.

Over the past month, businesses employing more than 100 staff decided how to prepare for the impending vaccine mandate deadlines. While some of those are now delayed, omicron is likely to change the landscape for employers once more.

November and December have traditionally been the season for end-of-year and holiday parties. However, with a potential new wave of coronavirus infections looming, should you plan large in-person festivities?

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) advises caution and patience. With international travel restrictions in place, employers have little choice other than to wait for scientists to deliver a clearer picture of the situation. By the middle of this month, we should know more. Perhaps thinking about an alternative to big, in-person festivities is worthwhile at this point.

Tools At Your Fingertips

American employers and employees have the right tools at their fingertips to prevent the further spread of the virus. Some of them go hand-in-hand with the provisions intended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to implement the vaccine mandate. They include vaccination verification, creating a clear vaccine policy for the organization, regular testing, and wearing face coverings.

As an employer or an HR professional, it is now more crucial than ever to understand the vaccination status of your workforce. Tools like TrueCare™’s vaccination verification platform make it easy for you and your team to work together and gain a clear picture of your crew.

Your company can be set up on the platform within hours and verify the team’s vaccinations today. 

Employees simply need to upload their vaccination certificates via a mobile phone app for HR staff to verify. The process is simple and convenient.

Within the shortest possible time, you have a clear picture of who has been partially and fully vaccinated and had a booster. Moreover, you can keep track of who has been granted medical exceptions. The platform is fully compliant with legal requirements not only from a health-related but also from a data protection perspective.

Making Your Workplace Safer

Vaccination verification is not the only option for employers to make American workplaces safer. The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that HR teams and managers remind their employees of other simple prevention strategies.

Wearing a mask in public indoor places is highly recommended for not yet fully vaccinated. Social distancing and avoiding big crowds, where possible, have also been recommended by the CDC.

Adhering to these guidelines and opting for vaccinations and booster shots is about more than protecting yourself. Emphasizing that employee communications will help generate buy-in and remind individuals that they are acting for the greater good.

Preventing the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces protects each employee’s friends, family, and loved ones. In addition, proactive prevention through vaccination and other measures protects co-workers who cannot get a vaccine because of a medical condition. At this stage, prevention remains key to beating the virus.

Find out how you can make your workplace safer!

 

About TrueCare™ 

TrueCare™ is a nationwide Health & Wellness platform for families and businesses providing end-to-end solutions for COVID-19 testing, screening, vaccination, home care, and corporate well-being services.

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