COVID-19 Updates: Close Contact Rules, Face Masks and Virtual Events

April 8, 2020

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We’d like to thank our community for their participation in the preventative measures we’ve put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. Compliance with these measures, and an implementation of practices such as working from home within resident companies, has enabled LabCentral to stay open and operational, and allowed our residents’ essential research to continue.

In this update, we want to share with you our experience with COVID-19 at LabCentral, provide clarification on guidance that we have received from local experts, and detail additional precautionary measures we will be taking in the coming days. 

COVID-19 Update

While allergy season is starting and regular flu and cold symptoms may continue to be present during the next several weeks, we are working closely with resident companies if anyone is experiencing respiratory symptoms so we can err on the side of caution with our measures. Based on this open and swift dialogue with our resident companies, we are closely monitoring situations where members of our community were feeling unwell, but in each case, symptoms were mild or potentially unrelated to COVID-19 and those in question are self-isolating appropriately. While we remain vigilant, we still have not had any confirmed cases of COVID-19 within LabCentral residents or staff.

Clarification on “Close Contact”

Our definition and understanding on what it means to be in “Close Contact” with someone who is symptomatic with COVID-19 (or asymptomatic but later diagnosed) has evolved over the past week. The CDC defines Close Contact as being within six feet of a COVID-19 patient (or an asymptomatic individual later diagnosed to be infected with the coronavirus) for a prolonged period of time. 

Based on discussions with an infectious disease expert at Boston Children’s Hospital, and in line with CDC and WHO policy guidance, we are adjusting the LabCentral definition of Close Contact as anyone having had conversation or interaction over more than a minimal period or time (more than 10 minutes), while within less than a six foot distance

This means that interactions such as passing one another in the hallway or utilizing a shared office space (that is greater than six feet apart) do not constitute Close Contact. 

These basic social-distancing rules, paired with swift response to potential exposures from our lab operations team and regular cleanings, will ensure that we reduce the risk for our staff and members and mitigate the number of primary and secondary exposures. 

Face Coverings at LabCentral

In addition to policies we’ve already enacted, starting next week you will begin to see LabCentral employees wearing face coverings, following the new CDC guidance; we will be testing an anti-microbial face covering that we are having custom-made for LabCentral.

The objective of this measure is not to protect the wearer from others who are ill, but to reduce the risk of transmission from pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic carriers of SARS-CoV-2. Simple surgical masks, as well as cloth face coverings, can help to achieve this goal. While there is still a shortage of medical grade masks in the country, particularly the now famous N95 masks, we encourage our residents to find other suitable face coverings for their own use. 

Virtual Event Series: Innovation & Biotech in the Time of COVID-19

Yesterday we launched our new webinar series: Innovation & Biotech in the Time of COVID-19. This first event focused on financial questions, looking to cover aspects of the macro-economy and their impact on venture capital and the biotech industry. You can watch the replay here.

On Thursday, April 9th at 1:30 p.m. ET, experts from Locke Lord will be presenting – COVID-19 and its Implications: What You Need to Know – providing their insights into the legal ramifications of the coronavirus, including aspects relating to employee issues, new borrowing opportunities and tax considerations. Learn about the availability of new resources as well as the legal pitfalls to avoid in this challenging time. Register here.

Next Tuesday, April 14th at 1:30 p.m. ET, we’ll be hosting – Advice for Start-Ups Facing Uncertainty – featuring a panel of experts that will advise entrepreneurs on what can be done to get through this uncertain time and what the biotech community can do to help. Register here and watch for more details on the panel on the LabCentral events page.

Finally, we continue to support our healthcare workers who are bravely stemming the tide of cases in the hospitals and need our help: Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Home!