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COVID-19 Advisory: Global Trends ~ Air Travel ~ Gym Safety ~ NBA Pt. II

June 29, 2020
To: Distribution
From: Pandemic Working Group
Re: COVID-19: Global Trends ~ Air Travel ~ Gym Safety ~ NBA Pt. II

Around the World
My wife always tells me to show her a picture, as she’s a visual thinker. For those of you who process similarly, as referred by Peter Eilers and reported in endcoronarivus.org, regional outbreaks of coronavirus are various. Trends in most EU countries (such as France, Germany and Italy – see the seven-day trailing average of new cases to the left) that were hit early, peaked and imposed social restrictions evenly, are good, even as those countries have commenced reopening.

However, as noted by Eric Wintemute, the countries in which we primarily do business (to the extent data are available) are on the “need to do better” list. Note their seven-day trends. These graphs (the y-axis) has been sized to fit each country in order to show the direction of the trend, not its actual magnitude (which, for example, in the US would be far higher than in Costa Rica). With this in mind, we need to be very careful about maintaining the health and safety of the workplace.


 Air Travel

It has come to my attention that some of our international colleagues may be unaware of our policy on air travel. To that I say, “Mea culpa.” Many advisories do not reach beyond US borders. So, for those who are working anywhere on the globe, please note that during the pandemic and until further notice, it is highly recommended that you not travel by air unless both i) it is essential for business and ii) you have cleared it with this Pandemic Working Group. Until airline carriers have committed to uniform standards on social distancing aboard their aircraft, we find that being seated in close proximity to other passengers is fraught with risk.

What About Gyms?
As reported in the Wall Street Journal, certain European countries that have reopened gyms have reported no increase in coronavirus among its patrons. In a study by the Norwegian government, of a group of 3,764 persons aged 18 to 64 from Oslo, 1,896 were asked to train in gyms while 1,868 (the control group) did not. Within the gym-patrons, 81.8% visited at least once per week, while 38.5% visited six times or more. Only one case arose from this group, and it was determined that this person had been infected at work. Bear in mind that all gyms observed heightened hygiene and distancing guidelines (at least two meters apart for high-intensity training). Nor were patrons allowed to use showers. Similarly, in Germany, gym members must stay 1.5 meters apart, all facilities are frequently disinfected and high-intensity training (e.g., indoor cycling) is prohibited in some German states. This photo (from WSJ) shows Ordnungsamt officers patrolling a local fitness center in Cologne. What, you ask, is the Ordnungsamt? According to allaboutberlin.com, it is the public order office, which typically deals with various aspects of public order, such as noise complaints, wild animals and parking spaces (like, for example, a howler monkey parked in a loading zone). Study author Michael Bretthauer emphasized that the Norweigian subjects complied with measures vigorously. And, I imagine, with the local constabulary on the floor, the Germans do as well.

To Play or Not to Play
The Bard himself might well have penned this phrase in advance of the NBA mini-season that is slated to start at the end of July. While most players seem willing, as reported by the SportingNews, 16 of 302 of those reporting to camp tested positive for coronavirus and have had to be quarantined. Admittedly, all players will be housed in a bubble, eat in a bubble, play in a bubble and potentially bathe in a bubble bath. However, as recently shown by the Kansas State football program, team sports can be a pathway for transmission. The Orlando Sentinel reports that KSU football camp opened during the first weekend in June, at which time all players tested negative for coronavirus. However, within three weeks two cases morphed into 14, and the entire program was shut down. While the NBA is implementing rigorous measures, it finds itself within a regional hotspot. Interestingly, as reported by CBSSports.com, a number of NBA players have opted not to join their teams in Orlando, including Avery Bradley, Trevor Ariza, Davis Bertrans, Wilson Chandler and Willy Cauley-Stein, many of whom cite their family’s health as a primary consideration.

If you have any questions or comments on this advisory, please contact either kellyw@amvac.com or timd@amvac.com.

COVID-19 Advisory: Global Trends ~ Air Travel ~ Gym Safety ~ NBA Pt. II