COVID-19-UTAH RESPONSE

Protecting workers from the heat at COVID-19 testing centers

Jul 31, 2020, 6:21 PM | Updated: 6:46 pm
heat COVID-19...
A new federal study is finding that since COVID-19 hit Utah workplaces, almost 75% of infected workers have been Latinos or other minorities. (PHOTO: Meghan Thackery, KSL TV)
(PHOTO: Meghan Thackery, KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY – The weekend’s heat wave is expected to bring dangerous temperatures all over the state.  The triple-digit heat is causing a lot of problems for workers in COVID-19 testing centers across Utah, but health officials are coming up with new ways to keep their employees cool.

COVID-19 testing in the heat 

In order to prevent the virus from spreading indoors, most COVID-19 testing facilities are outside.  People drive up to the nurses and lab technicians, get a nasal swab, then wait to get their results.  While the driver is sitting comfortably in their air-conditioned car, the workers are standing outside in the heat. 

University of Utah Ambulatory Senior Nursing Director Nikki Gilmore said the heat becomes nearly unbearable when you have to wear a plastic gown to keep you from becoming infected.

“Just imagine yourself outside, in 100 degrees, wrapped in Saran Wrap,” she described.

(Credit: Meghan Thackery, KSL TV)

Many things can go wrong in a testing facility when the workers get too hot.  Not only can they become physically sick, but Gilmore says they can easily get confused or disoriented.  If they want to keep body temperatures at a safe level, workers have to do more than just take a five-minute break and grab some water.

“It’s not enough just to stand in the shade for a minute.  That’s going to take your body temperature down just a couple of degrees.  You really have to go get in front of some AC and get some ice to really get your body temperature down,” according to Gilmore.

Keeping cool 

One of the most effective tools they have developed are the cooling vest workers can wear while they’re outside.  The vests are similar to what professional athletes wear in hot states like Florida.

“The cooling vests, they have ice packs in them.  They last about an hour and we’ve got ample supplies of ice packs so the staff can switch those out and change those out as we go,” explained the University of Utah Health Senior Director of Facilities and Engineering Jerry North.

On top of that, workers are required to take breaks every hour.  North said this is something most nurses and lab techs might not do unless they were required to.

“They want to keep going,” said North. ” They want to take care of our community and the people who are coming through these testing locations.”

North said they can’t place large fans inside the testing tents because they would spread the virus.  If the testing centers are still required in the winter, North said they’ll have to figure out ways to keep workers warm in the bitter cold.

 

RELATED LINKS

Doctors “cautiously optimistic” Utah COVID-19 cases are plateauing 

Some Davis County School District parents asking for full class schedule again

Fauci to tell House panel “unclear” how long pandemic lasts

Today’s Top Stories

COVID-19-Utah response

BYU study COVID money...
Martha Harris

BYU study says ‘going cashless was useless’ during height of pandemic

Many businesses went to a cash-only model at the start of the pandemic. A recent BYU study found the effort made little impact.
2 months ago
Flags are ordered to be lowered...
Amie Schaeffer

Flags lowered to honor lives lost to COVID-19

In accordance with an order from President Biden, Gov. Cox authorized flags lowered through May 16. The order is meant to honor lives lost to the virus.
2 months ago
Utah national parks no longer have a mask mandate...
Chandler Holt

Masks no longer required in national parks

Since a federal judge struck down the CDC's transportation mask mandate, guests in national parks can choose if they'd like to wear a mask or not.
2 months ago
Photo of two 'mask required' signs...
Associated Press

CDC to extend federal travel mask mandate

CDC to extend travel mask mandate for two weeks to monitor uptick in COVID-19 cases.
3 months ago
Utah begings using wastewater to track components of the COVID-19 virus in communities...
Dan Bammes

Monitoring COVID-19 virus in Utah through wastewater

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is monitoring levels of the COVID-19 virus components in sewage at wastewater treatment plants across the state. While it’s a useful early warning system, Utah’s state epidemiologist says it’s just one of the tools they have for monitoring COVID-19 infections in the community. Last year, when the Delta variant showed […]
3 months ago
(A testing site operated by Nomi Health across the street from UDOH headquarters.  Photo: Paul Nels...
Paul Nelson

Federal health officials investigating Utah-based company over COVID-19 testing

A Utah-based company is being investigating for claims of substandard conditions at COVID-19 testing sites.
3 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
Follow @ikeyospe...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
Follow @ikeyospe...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
Protecting workers from the heat at COVID-19 testing centers