Rising Numbers Due to Omicron Variant Require Updated COVID-19 Guidance
Learn What Steps You Can Take to Help
Jan. 4, 2022
With the arrival of the very contagious omicron variant, we have seen our COVID-19 positive cases for our patients and employees increase dramatically over the past few weeks. At this time, there are more than 120 employees out with COVID, and the vast majority are vaccinated.
In our community, the percent positivity rate has risen to more than 30%, and with recent holiday gatherings, we expect the rising numbers to continue over the coming weeks. (Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram.)
Learn more by watching this story with our own Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D., Medical Director for Pediatric Infectious Diseases, which aired today on CBS This Morning, a national news program.
As has always been the case, keeping you safe and protecting our patients and their families are our top priorities.
On Jan. 3, 2022, our President & CEO Rick W. Merrill, other senior leaders, members of the Command Center and our health care experts held several meetings to reevaluate how our health care system can minimize our risks and protect everyone as much as possible from this extremely contagious new variant.
Below you will find new updated guidance, which overrides any previously communicated guidance, and all of this information applies to the entire Cook Children’s Health Care System.
Meetings, Gatherings and Remote Working
- Whenever possible, you are highly encouraged to host all meetings virtually at least through January (and possibly longer, depending on our numbers). Yes, Zoom and Skype will continue to be our friends!
- This guidance applies to vendors, other business associates, job candidates, etc.
- If you feel it is “business critical” to bring someone to any Cook Children’s location, please visit with your manager, and follow all safety protocols, i.e. practice social distancing of at least 6 feet; do not offer any food or drink; and wear a mask at all times.
- Please stop all social gatherings immediately. This includes birthday parties, baby showers, department potlucks, retirement celebrations, etc.
- Please do not go out to eat lunch together or share a table at work together during lunch. While eating, please practice social distancing.
- Additionally, we are noticing that many employees are gathering in Camelot Court over a meal, and we ask that this stop for the time being.
Until further notice, employees who are able to work from home should do so as much as possible. Do you want to work remotely and believe it is possible for your role? Please talk to your manager about your department policies for remote working, and learn what may be possible for you.
Masking and Social Distancing
- Please wear your mask at all times while at Cook Children’s, even when working out at the Wellness Zone, or walking outside. Exceptions include: 1) when you are eating; or 2) when you are alone in an enclosed area.
- Please go back to the basics for safety. Examples include:
- Maintain social distancing (at least 6 feet);
- Frequently and thoroughly wash your hands; and
- Wear your masks or proper PPE at all times.
- You can help set an example and be a community role model, too! While you are away from work.
- Please wear an FDA approved mask when you are out and about; and
- Follow the safety guidelines above.
Outside Visitors and Guests (non-patient related)
- Do not bring your children, other family members or friends to your work location. We want to keep the number of visitors to a minimum and we are doing everything possible to keep everyone safe.
Patient Visitor Policy Remains Unchanged and More
- We are continuing to follow our current visitation policy for patient families, which allows for two caregivers at the medical center and any two people for other locations.
- Please continue to follow the visitor exception policy detailed here.
- We have no plans at this time to postpone or cancel any surgeries or procedures.
Had a COVID-19 Exposure?
If you have an exposure and have an urgent COVID question or situation that impacts your ability to be at work, please email the details to COVID19OHS@cookchildrens.org and COPY YOUR MANAGER. The information you need to include in your email includes:
- Your full name
- Your employee number
- Name of your department
- Name of your manager or immediate supervisor
- Your phone number (cell or home)
- When and where you were exposed to the virus.
- The date you started showing symptoms.
- If you receive a home test that shows you are positive, please send a photo of the results to the email listed above.
The bottom line is we need you well and healthy so we are all ready for the patients and families who are counting on us. With your help and support, we can do just that. Thank you for following this latest guidance, and helping us protect everyone entrusted to our care.
Keeping You Updated
We will continue to evaluate and monitor this ongoing and every evolving situation, and keep you updated as we know more. And you can always find the latest updates on our new Cook Children’s Connect Newsroom here.
As we close, there is some good news coming out of South Africa, where the omicron variant was first detected. The latest data suggests the rise and fall of this current wave lasts only weeks rather than months like previous COVID-19 waves. We hope this holds true here in North Texas.
Either way, we will get through this peak together just like we did the others.
Thank you for all you are doing to fulfill Our Promise and for the care and service you provide to our patients, their families, our community, and each other.
Still have questions? Please email COVID19Questions@cookchildrens.org.