COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS): RESOURCES FROM THE NATIONAL CHICKEN COUNCIL

This COVID-19 (coronavirus) resources page from the National Chicken Council provides business and government information, top-tier media coverage, and answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19, as it pertains to the food and poultry industry. The information featured is for general consumers, as well as National Chicken Council members and food industry personnel. This page will be updated on an ongoing basis.

For the most recent CDC updates, please visit the CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions. For FDA updates, please visit the Coronavirus Disease 2019 page. For information from USDA, please visit the USDA Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) page.

The Latest COVID-19 Updates & Resources

NEW GOVERNMENT RESOURCES

Daily COVID-19 Issues Tracker & Top Tier Coverage

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Notable Updates

U.S. News

  • According to national COVID-19 trackers, there are currently over 217,263 cases of coronavirus confirmed by lab tests in all 50 states with over 5,151 deaths reported. Notable new cases include:
    • Coronavirus deaths in the United States passed 4,600 Wednesday as Vice President Pence issued an ominous warning that America’s situation is most comparable to Italy’s struggle with the virus, which has pushed that nation’s hospitals to capacity and has left more than 13,000 people dead despite a weeks-long lockdown.
    • US public health experts warn of a cresting wave of coronavirus infections in the coming weeks, rates of transmission among the nation’s front-line fighters — doctors, nurses and other medical staff — are setting off alarm bells.
  • According to the White House task force briefing Wednesday evening:
    • The United States is launching enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to protect the American people from the deadly scourge of illegal narcotics.
    • Military families have delayed planned moves to their next duty station and are waiting longer for soldiers to come home from deployment. 
    • FEMA and HHS formed a historic partnership with the private sector called “Project Airbridge” to bring supplies from other countries to the United States, including gloves, gowns, goggles, and masks. These supplies will soon be distributed around the country.  We have large cargo planes coming in from various parts of the world.
    • More than 17,000 National Guard personnel have now been activated all across our country.  On Tuesday, the Vice President sent a letter to the governors, calling on them to have plans in place to use the National Guard to move medical supplies from warehouses to hospitals.
  • More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — a record — as political and public health leaders put the economy in a deep freeze, keeping people at home and trying to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
  • Thousands of health care workers across the nation who have been laid off, furloughed or are working reduced hours as their services are deemed nonessential and patients skip routine visits during an outbreak of COVID-19 cases. 
  • The government’s emergency stockpile of respirator masks, gloves and other medical supplies is running low and is nearly exhausted due to the coronavirus outbreak, leaving the Trump administration and the states to compete for personal protective equipment in a freewheeling global marketplace rife with profiteering and price-gouging, according to Department of Homeland Security officials involved in the frantic acquisition effort.
  • Amazon will begin taking the temperature of employees across its entire operations network and Whole Foods stores by early next week. At some facilities, employees are already being subject to temperature checks.
  • Carnival Corp. and a group of federal, state and local authorities in Florida have reached an agreement to allow passengers off a coronavirus-struck ship that has been stranded for weeks, according to a local official.
  • A Washington state nursing home tied to at least 37 covid-19 deaths faces a fine of more than $611,000, federal inspectors said, and could also lose Medicare and Medicaid funding if it does not correct a slew of deficiencies that led to the country’s first major outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
  • Boeing announced plans to provide contract buyouts and offers of early retirement for some employees as the company’s production suffers under the coronavirus epidemic.
  • Sony Corp. has established a $100 million coronavirus relief fund to support health care workers, children and educators working remotely, as well as artists and creators who have lost work. 
  • Video conferencing company Zoom announced this week that around 200 million daily meeting participants used its services in March as the coronavirus forced people to stay home, up from a maximum daily average of 10 million in December. 
  • The New England Patriots’ team plane is set to arrive in Massachusetts on Thursday carrying more than 1.2 million N95 masks that were retrieved in Shenzhen, China

 

International News

 

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GENERAL INFORMATION:

Key Dates (March 2020):

  • 3/1/20: U.S. reports first two deaths
  • 3/2/20: Number of cases reported in Italy spikes by nearly 50%; the E.U. raised its risk level to “high”
  • 3/6/20: Number of cases surpassed 100,000 globally
  • 3/9/20: Global stock markets plunged and oil prices dropped amid global anxiety
  • 3/10/20: Number of known coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpassed 1,000
  • 3/10/20: Deadliest single day toll to date
  • 3/11/20: WHO declares a pandemic; U.S. bans travel from Europe, excluding the U.K.
  • 3/13/20: Trump declares a national emergency
  • 3/14/20: U.S. extends travel ban to include Britain, Ireland 
  • 3/18/20: The EU announced it will seal its borders; the U.S. and Canada will close its border to “non-essential” traffic

 

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Questions & Answers on COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

What is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. There are many types of human coronaviruses, including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Is meat and poultry inspection being affected by COVID-19?

USDA released a statement about Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS); highlights from the department include:

  • Meat, poultry, and processed egg inspection services continue as normal.
  • Planning for absenteeism is a part of normal FSIS operations and as such, FSIS is closely monitoring and tracking employee absenteeism to plan for and minimize impacts to operations.
  • FSIS is also working to prioritize inspection at establishments based on local conditions and resources available.
  • Yesterday, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach and USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Mindy Brashears issued a letter to stakeholders reassuring them that FSIS and AMS are rising to meet the challenges associated with COVID-19

Will there be food shortages?

There are no nationwide shortages of food, although in some cases the inventory of certain foods at your grocery store might be temporarily low before stores can restock. Food production and manufacturing are widely dispersed throughout the U.S. and there are currently no wide-spread disruptions reported in the supply chain.

Is COVID-19 transmitted by food products? Is COVID-19 a foodborne pathogen?

The CDC says “currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.” USDA reports “There is no evidence at this time to suggest that the Coronavirus is a foodborne pathogen.” According to a statement from the FDA, “We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.”

However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices (i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and refrigerate foods promptly) when handling or preparing foods.

For background and the most up-to-date information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Coronavirus Disease website: here.

Can I get sick with COVID-19 from touching food, the food packaging, or food contact surfaces, if the coronavirus was present on it?

Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects. For that reason, it is critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill.

Can I get COVID-19 from a food worker handling my food?

Currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. However, the virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person in some communities in the U.S. The CDC recommends that if you are sick, stay home until you are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.

Should food workers who are ill stay home?

CDC recommends that employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants). Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick. We recommend that businesses review CDC’s interim guidance for businesses and employers for planning and responding to coronavirus disease. Also see the FDA’s Retail Food Protection: Employee Health and Personal Hygiene Handbook.

Should food facilities (grocery stores, manufacturing facilities, restaurants, etc.) perform any special cleaning or sanitation procedures for COVID-19?

CDC recommends routine cleaning of all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label. CDC does not recommend any additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning at this time.

  • View the EPA-registered disinfectant products on the Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 list that have qualified under EPA’s emerging viral pathogen program for use against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
  • Restaurants and retail food establishments are regulated at the state and local level. State, local, and tribal regulators use the Food Code published by the FDA to develop or update their own food safety rules. Generally, FDA-regulated food manufacturers are required to maintain clean facilities, including, as appropriate, clean and sanitized food contact surfaces, and to have food safety plans in place. Food safety plans include a hazards analysis and risk-based preventive controls and include procedures for maintaining clean and sanitized facilities and food contact surfaces. See: FSMA Final Rule for Preventive Controls for Human Food.

Since restaurant workers and other service industry employees have ongoing contact with the public, are there any special precautions these workers should take to avoid becoming sick with a respiratory illness, such as wearing masks?

CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

    • CDC recommends everyday preventive actions for everyone, including service industry workers and customers:
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
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