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How to prepare to go back to work in the ‘New Normal’?

As we enter the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions ease, businesses are looking for ways to return to a new normal. Each organization will have unique challenges. Creating a viable path to return will depend on education of the employees, creating a clean and safe work environment. The COVID-19 crisis is constantly changing and employers’ decisions will be highly dependent on the individual industries in which they operate. Employee safety is the number one priority for companies which can support the health of the economy and the communities. Governments can support businesses by evaluating whether there are adequate measures implemented to minimize the likely spread of disease.

“Identify your problems, but give your power and energy to solutions.” Tony Robbins

These measures could help safeguard employees from the virus:

  • Thoroughly disinfect and clean the worksite prior to employees’ return.
  • Teach employees proper hygiene such as the recommended protocol for hand washing to eliminate the virus per CDC.
  • Teach employees how nutrition can prevent virus infection.
  • Mandate that sick employees and employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19 stay home.
  • Implement an effective action plan if an employee tests positive for COVID-19 and/or exhibits related symptoms.
  • Establish routines, daily employee health checks; and keep communication channels with employees open.

“Know the difference between a catastrophe and an inconvenience. To realize that it’s just an inconvenience, that it is not a catastrophe, but just an unpleasantness, is part of coming into your own, part of waking up.” Bruce Lee

Risk Management

Employers need to focus on risk management. They should learn what protocols should be adopted to limit employees’ exposure to the virus and maintain good health. The CDC allows employers to immediately remove employees who exhibit signs of the COVID-19 virus. Some employers require employees to present a doctor’s note before returning to work. Employers may require that employees are screened using a no-touch thermometer prior to entering a worksite location. Employers must provide appropriate personal protective equipment, administer relevant training, and be sure to keep all recorded information confidential and separate and apart from the employee’s personnel file. If an employer receives information of the workforce’s possible exposure to an employee who tests positive for COVID-19, accurate communication and sanitizing protocols must be implemented. This would include notifying exposed employees and possibly even closing down the worksite for a period of time to adequately sanitize.

“The future depends on what you do today.” Mahatma Ghandi

Workplace Protocols

Once employees return to work, employers should take every measure possible and feasible to comply with CDC and government recommendations. Most importantly, employers need to provide a safe work environment for employees. As such, employers should consider enforcing the following protocols:

  • Promote respiratory etiquette of covering coughs/sneezes and personal hygiene by encouraging workers to frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and providing ready access to soap and water for handwashing, providing hand sanitizer stations.
  • Re-assess the need for employee travel and limit any business travel to strictly essential needs.

These are just a few of the many considerations employers will have to make in assessing and arranging for a returning workforce.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Nelson Mandela

Use a Personal Air Purifier instead of a mask

Many masks are uncomfortable and in some cases minimal protection depending on the quality of the mask. Some people also have medical issues which make wearing a mask dangerous such as breathing issues or exasperating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Clear water revival (CWR) personal air purifier generates an intense electrostatic ion wind that charges floating particles in the breathing zone. The particles are then electrostatically repelled away from the wearer substantially creating a particle free exclusion zone for toxic pollutants and contaminants in the breathing zone. Significant and substantial reductions of airborne breathable particles have been confirmed by leading world authorities in health related aerosol studies by CWR’s rechargeable air purifier technology from .04 to 3 microns in size. This represents most viruses and bacteria. Because the air purifier works outside the body, it does not matter how infectious or toxic these particles are.

Substantial inhalation risk reductions were confirmed under strict laboratory conditions in confined spaces (i.e. aircraft cabin) and large test calibration chambers used. A leading aerosol scientist Dr. Sergey Grinshpun who peer reviewed the studies said: “Whether a particle is biological or virulent in humans is of no relevance while it is airborne. While still airborne, these virulent particles obey the same laws and effects as all airborne particles of the same aerodynamic size and density.”

Employee health education is needed to support virus prevention:

Healthy diet:

Vegetables and fruits have isolated Flavonoids. Flavonoids are a group of plant metabolites thought to provide health benefits through cell signaling pathways, reduce inflammation and have antioxidant effects. Many flavonoids have been found, in vitro, to reduce inflammation and support immunity.[1] At least 5–7 servings of vegetables and 2–3 servings of fruit daily provide a repository of flavonoids and are considered a cornerstone of an anti-inflammatory diet. Some of the specific flavonoids which have been shown to have this effect, and which can be found in the diet and/or dietary supplements include:

  • Myricetin[2] found in tomatoes, oranges, nuts and berries
  • Apigenin[3] (found in Chamomile, parsley and celery

Herbals:

  • Scutellaria baicalensis (Chinese skullcap)
  • Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice)

Supplements:

  • Quercetin[4] also functions as a zinc ionophore, chelating zinc and transporting it into the cell cytoplasm.[5] This could, theoretically, enhance the anti-viral actions of zinc.
  • Curcumin[6] (found in turmeric root)

Tea:

Green tea has many health benefits including epigallocatechine gallate (EGCG). EGCG has been found to have antiviral activity against a wide range of DNA and RNA viruses, especially in the early stages of infection by preventing viral attachment, entry and membrane fusion.[7] EGCG, link quercetin, is a zinc ionophore[8], thereby potentially enhancing the antiviral actions of zinc.

Adequate sleep to support virus prevention:

Shorter sleep duration increases the risk of infectious illness. One study found that less than five hours of sleep (monitored over 7 consecutive days) increased the risk of developing rhinovirus associated cold by 350% when compared to individuals who slept at least seven hours per night.[9] This is important specifically to COVID-19 infection, sleep deprivation increases CXCL9 levels. CXCL9 is a monokine, which increases lymphocytic infiltration[10], and which is implicated in inflammation.[11] Adequate sleep also ensures the secretion of melatonin, a hormone which may play a role in reducing coronavirus virulence.

Stress management to support virus prevention:

During a time of great uncertainty, employees are likely experiencing stress in multiple areas of their lives at once. They may be worried about their job security, their health and the safety of their loved ones. Also isolation of social distancing, along with the loss of their usual routine, may be taking a toll on their mental health. Psychological stress disrupts immune regulation and is specifically associated with increased pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6.[12] Acute stress in mice increases inflammation.[13] Various mindfulness techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises and guided imagery reduce stress, which may reduce inflammation and do not appear to increase inflammatory cytokines.[14]

“A man is but a product of his thoughts. What he thinks he becomes.” Mahatma Ghandi

Zinc to support virus prevention:

Coronavirus appear to be susceptible to the viral inhibitory actions of zinc. Zinc may prevent coronavirus entry into cells[15] and appears to reduce coronavirus virulence.[16] Typical daily dosing of zinc is 15 mg–30 mg daily with lozenges potentially providing direct protective effects in the upper respiratory tract.

Vitamin C to support virus prevention:

Like flavonoids, ascorbic acid inhibits inflammation.[17] Clinical trials have found that vitamin C shortens the frequency, duration and severity of the common cold and the incidence of pneumonia.[18] Preventive dosing of vitamin C ranges from 3,000 mg to 5,000 mg daily with even higher doses utilized during times of acute infection.

Melatonin to support virus prevention:

Melatonin has been shown to reduce inflammation.[19] In fact, the age-related decline in melatonin production is one proposed mechanism to explain why children do not appear to have severe symptoms as frequently as do older adults. There has not been one reported account in the world of a child giving a teacher COVID-19. Melatonin also reduces oxidative lung injury and inflammatory cell recruitment during viral infections.[20] Typical dosing of melatonin varies widely from 0.3 mg to 20 mg (the latter used in the oncological setting). Melatonin is also anti-cancer and immune supportive.

In conclusion, preparing for the new normal will require education and training. Proper dietary support and supplements will help prevent the virus. Working to reduce stress and getting adequate sleep are also helpful for immune support and virus prevention. Incorporating these safeguards into your personal and business life will help in transition to the new normal.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

References

[1] Lim H. Flavonoids interfere with NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2018;355:93.
[2] Chen H. Myricetin inhibits NLRP3 inflammasome activation via reduction of ROS-dependent ubiquitination of ASC and promotion of ROS-independent NLRP3 ubiquitination. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2019;365:19.
[3] Yamagata K. Dietary apigenin reduces induction of LOX-1 and NLRP3 expression, leukocyte adhesion, and acetylated low-density lipoprotein uptake in human endothelial cells exposed to trimethylamine-noxide.
J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2019;74(6):558.
[4] Choe J.-Y. Quercetin and ascorbic acid suppress fructose-induced NLRP3 inflammasome activation by blocking intracellular shuttling of txnip in human macrophage cell lines. Inflammation. 2017;40(3):980.
[5] Dabbagh-Bazarbachi H. Zinc ionophore activity of quercetin and epigallocatechin-gallate: from hepa 1-6 cells to a liposome model. J Agric Food Chem. 2014;62(32):8085–8093.
[6] Yin H. Curcumin suppresses IL-1β secretion and prevents inflammation through inhibition of the NLRP3 inflammasome. J Immunol. 2018;200(8):2835.
[7] Kaihatsu K. Antiviral mechanism of action of epigallocatechin-3- o-gallate and its fatty acid esters. Molecules. 2018;23(10):2475.
[8] Dabbagh-Bazarbachi H. Zinc ionophore activity of quercetin and epigallocatechin-gallate: from hepa 1-6 cells to a liposome model. J Agric Food Chem. 2014;62(32):8085–8093.
[9] Prather A.A. Behaviorally assessed sleep and susceptibility to the common cold. Sleep. 2015;38(9):1353–1359.
[10] Gorbachev A.V. CXC chemokine ligand 9/monokine induced by IFN-gamma production by tumor cells is critical for T cell-mediated suppression of cutaneous tumors. J Immunol. 2007;178:2278–2286.
[11] Romero J.M. A four-chemokine signature is associated with a T-cell-Inflamed phenotype in primary and metastatic pancreatic cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2020 Jan 21 online ahead of print]
[12] Godbout J.P., Glaser R. Stress-induced immune dysregulation: implications for wound healing, infectious disease and cancer. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2006;1(4):421.
[13] Iwata M. Psychological stress activates the inflammasome via release of adenosine triphosphate and stimulation of the purinergic type 2X7 receptor. Biol Psychiatry. 2016;80(1):12.
[14] Black D., Slavich G.M. Mindfulness meditation and the immune system: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Ann NY Acad Sci. 2016;1373(1):13.
[15] Phillips J.M. Neurovirulent murine coronavirus jhm.sd uses cellular zinc metalloproteases for virus entry and cell-cell fusion. J Virol. 2017;91(8)
[16] Han Y.-.S. Papain-like protease 2 (PLP2) from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV): expression, purification, characterization, and inhibition. Biochemistry. 2005;44(30):10349.
[17] Choe J.-Y. Quercetin and ascorbic acid suppress fructose-induced NLRP3 inflammasome activation by blocking intracellular shuttling of txnip in human macrophage cell lines. Inflammation. 2017;40(3):980.
[18] Hemila H. Vitamin c supplementation and respiratory infections: a systematic review. Mil Med. 2004;169(11):90.
[19] Hardeland R. Melatonin and inflammation – story of a double-edged blade. J Pineal Res. 2018;65(4):e12525.
[20] Silvestri M., Rossi G.A. Melatonin: its possible role in the management of viral infections – a brief review. Ital J Pediatr. 2013;39:61.

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