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OC Health Care Agency Updates: OSHA publishes emergency temporary standard, precautions against aromatherapy products

On November 4, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published their emergency temporary standard (ETS) to the Federal Register. The ETS establishes binding requirements to protect unvaccinated employees of large employers (100 or more employees) from the risk of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace, including minimum vaccination, vaccination verification, face covering, and testing requirements to address the grave danger of COVID-19 in the workplace.

“By publishing the ETS to the Federal Register, employers must comply with most provisions by 30 days after the date of publication, and by 60 days for the testing requirement,” says Dr. Clayton Chau, OC Health Care Agency Director and County Health Officer. “This means that by January 4, 2022, employees of large employers who are not fully vaccinated must be tested for COVID-19 at least weekly (if in the workplace at least once a week) or within 7 days before returning to work (if away from the workplace for a week or longer).”

For the detail specifics and a full summary of OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS, click here.

Precautions Against Aromatherapy Products

On November 3, the CDC released a health advisory regarding bacterial strains of Burkholderia pseudomallei infections (melioidosis) found in bottles of aromatherapy room spray that caused sickness in four patients in the U.S. The contaminated product linked to the four cases is the Better Homes and Gardens-branded Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones “Lavender & Chamomile” scent. This product was sold online nationwide through Walmart and distributed to a limited number of Walmart stores between February and October 21, 2021. Testing for the presence of bacterial strains is underway for the five other scents under the same brand with Gemstones including “Lemon & Mandarin”, “Lavender”, “Peppermint”, “Lime & Eucalyptus”, and “Sandalwood & Vanilla.”

The symptoms may or may not include fever and muscle aches. Such infection often results in skin ulcer/nodule/abscess, lung infection, bloodstream infection, and disseminated infection. Abscesses in the liver, lung, spleen, and prostate are often observed in patients diagnosed with disseminated infections; brain abscesses may also be seen.

People who have the Better Homes & Gardens Aromatherapy Room Spray “Lavender & Chamomile” with Gemstones product, or any of the other recalled scents with Gemstones (including Lemon & Mandarin, Lavender, Peppermint, Lime & Eucalyptus, and Sandalwood & Vanilla) in their homes should take the following precautions:

  • Stop using this product immediately. Do not open the bottle. Do not throw away or dispose of the bottle in the regular trash.
  • Double bag the bottle in clean, clear zip-top bags and place in a cardboard box. Return the bagged and boxed product to a Walmart store.
  • Wash sheets or linens that the product may have been sprayed on using normal laundry detergent and dry completely in a hot dryer; bleach can be used if desired.
  • Wipe down counters and surfaces that might have the spray on them with undiluted PineSol or similar disinfectant.
  • Limit direct handling of the spray bottle and wash hands thoroughly after touching the bottle or linens. If gloves were used, wash hands afterward.
  • If you used the product within the past 21 days and develop a fever or other melioidosis symptoms, you should seek medical care and inform your doctor about your exposure to the spray. If you do not have symptoms but were exposed to the product in the last 7 days, your doctor may recommend that you get antibiotics (post-exposure prophylaxis) to prevent infection.

Status of COVID-19 Cases in Orange County

Between October 29 and November 4, the seven-day average COVID-19 case rate increased from 7.1 to 7.4 per 100,000 people, with the average number of daily COVID-19 cases increasing from 228 to 239. The positivity rate also saw an increase from 2.3 to 2.8 percent and hospitalizations from 198 to 215 per day. ICU admissions has remained steady at 51 per day.

“Statewide and locally, we are beginning to see a slight increase in COVID case numbers and I want to remind everyone to please continue being proactive about protecting our loved ones and neighbors,” says Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, Deputy County Health Officer. “The holidays are approaching and we want to do everything we can to avoid another surge. This means getting vaccinated if you are eligible and not already vaccinated, wearing a mask in indoor settings, avoiding large crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and getting tested if you experience symptoms of COVID. Please take these steps to protect those you care about.”

Orange County COVID-19 case count and testing figures are updated daily, Monday through Friday, at occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc. For more information on COVID-19 testing options, visit occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-testing.

Individuals who are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19, including our newly eligible population between the ages of 5-11, anyone eligible to receive a booster dose, and those eligible for a third dose (immunocompromise conditions) are encouraged to access any available vaccine distribution channel to get their shot. For more information, please visit COVIDVaccineFacts.com and click on “Find a COVID-19 Vaccine”.

This article was released by the Orange County Health Care Agency.