Best Practices in the COVID-19 Era (Minimize vs. Segregate)

So I hope this is the best place to pose this question. I can’t find anything official regarding this question and I’m not sure what if any closely related histories might be helpful.

A little backstory, we had one positive case of COVID-19 a little over a month ago and no one else in the facility was infected, indicating to me that the existing precautions we are taking worked and we should continue as is.

My workplace is weighing the option to segregate the facility into multiple groups with absolutely no contact whatsoever between them. The idea behind this is that if one group has a positive COVID-19 case, the other can fill in during the 1st group’s downtime to reduce lost production. This idea is fraught with undue difficulty and potential failure, in my opinion. There are many issues I take with the ‘plan’ being promoted, but one in particular I can’t figure out whether I am right or wrong about.

We have been working with a reduced workforce for months now to minimize personnel. To do this segregation we not only would need to basically double the workforce in the manufacturing area, but that the extra staff would be unknown temps for the most part. So that is introduction of a lot more bodies to the site.

Right now, the staff is mostly acquainted, familiar, conformable, and trusting of one another to the point that they are able to work together without fear of infection in conjunction with the safety precautions the company is taking.

Is there any guidance or information that anyone is aware of that would weigh the pros and cons of maintaining minimal workforce with distancing in effect vs. physical segregation of a larger workforce with regard to safety?

In lieu of that, I would appreciate opinions at this point and be happy to clarify details if needed.

For many reasons, I wish I had something specific to offer. I would like to have better ways to make judgements than the “do what I’m told… usually” that I am doing now.

I am hearing quite a bit about “cohorts”.
As I understand the concept, it is to try to form groups and keep the groups more widely separated.
We don’t know yet how minor hockey will unfold, but a team would be a “cohort”.
The idea is that if infection hits a cohort, there is a good chance that it may be contained within the cohort.
Leagues would be split into mini leagues, to limit the spread of any infection.
Think of it as greater social distance between groups or cohorts.
I sounds as if you are looking at a variation of what is called a cohort system in this area.
How good is it?
Does it work?
I don’t know, but I imagine that if everyone cooperates and gets with the program it will be fairly effective.
If people resist and buck the system, then not so effective.
Sort of like masks.
Wearing a mask reduces your chance of contracting and/or spreading the virus.
On the other hand, not wearing a mask is, well,???

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I’m a little sceptical about the sustainability of this practice. Some specialty businesses might can afford it, but not the highly competitive, commodity businesses.

I think in the beginning, the turnaround of temps is going to be a BIG hurdle. That in and of itself will be one thing, but the reaction of the current employees and longer term temps we already have I am anticipating a lot of discomfort and reluctance.

We’re talking about going from 25 regular employees and 10(ish) temps to adding 15 new temps to bolster the cohorts (thanks @WaRoss for the term)

Our facility also just isn’t set up for isolated groups. Could we manage it and setup temporary breakrooms / bathrooms / etc.? Yeah, we can, but how long can we honestly expect people to stay here in these makeshift setups. I think it’ll look great for a few days, maybe a week. Then I expect people to start getting lax about the isolation protocols and we honestly can’t stand over their shoulders and police every movement they make like this would require.

Agree. After a while, if a male in group A wants to “chat up” a female in group B. and vice versa, it will happen.

If you add more people and can’t segrate them via multiple shifts (separate over time vs over space) over the course of a day, then more people just means more vectors to spread the virus - especially if you don’t have the space to keep people somewhat comfortable in the new setup. I wouldn’t change the current plan because of one case, I’d probably look into getting everyone tested before changing staffing levels.

Also, consider the safety and quality impacts of new hires onboarding with possibly diminished training time/resources.

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