11_Weather

11. Plan for weather extremes

Indoor vs. outdoor

Consideration

Weather can have a significant impact on testing.

Design outdoor set ups to ensure staff are physically safe from the elements.

Some sites have moved to indoor locations in response to weather concerns.

Voices from the Field

“…don't underestimate the weather… there's been some thunderstorms –something to think about is how hard it can be on the staff to be out there in the elements, just testing for six hours straight and then as the weather gets warmer we’re just concerned about their well-being as they are out in PPE and it’s 90°.”
“...the sheer volume of people that we are going to have to take care of and how to do that efficiently and safely without freezing to death and we have an older population, so you have an outdoor vaccine station or outdoor testing station is hard unless you are in your car. So, we don't have the answer yet. I think that we will probably have our outdoor testing tent through at least part of the winter.”
“The employees were getting very hot and overheated working in the PPE. The rain was becoming a very big factor working in the rain and thunderstorms. The elements were really untenable to manage, the unpredictability of them. We would have to shut down sometimes and turn patients away and make all the phone calls and let them know they couldn’t come. So, it's very unpredictable …[we have moved indoors] now at one site for about two or three weeks and it can be safely and effectively managed.”
Previous
Next

Innovative hybrid indoor-outdoor sites

Consideration

Some sites have used creative solutions that maximize air circulation but allow for staff to remain warm / cool as needed.

Voices from the Field

“We have two old drive-through car emission stations, and we've already converted one and have another one ready to go … the summer heat forced us to find other options than just tents in parking lots … but these are actually perfect for COVID testing… these sites are long, they have multiple stops along the way.”
“When it gets really bitter, bitter cold, we have a parking garage that may work with something in there temporarily. I know that we are looking at building a structure that can be heated that we could use for both vaccination and testing. It's tricky though, because it would be a semi-permanent structure and we would have to get building approval from the city.”
“The parking garage is not really underground, but it’s in a shaded area, a lot of trees around the parking garage and so a lot cooler environment… we brought in air conditioning units that are similar to those you may see on the sidelines of the NFL, so with people wearing PPE can go stand under the air conditioning to cool off and come out to go test the people. And then we brought in large fans to again draw out the exhaust and the heat that the car engines bring in”
Previous
Next

Mobile vans

Consideration

Mobile vans with generators may offer support for cooling or heating as needed.

Voices from the Field

“The vehicles we are building out have an awning that comes down the side panels and they have a climate control outside the vehicle. That's part of the whole thing with the generator, so, they have heaters and air conditioners.”

Face shields

Consideration

Face shields may need to vary based on weather.

Voices from the Field

“…in the winter it is great to have something that is heavier duty. We were using some of the Home Depot face shields. I think those are kind of the preferred, they are like, big and bulky but they are also warmer. In the summer, I think that's big changes that no one wants those any longer and instead wants something on that is really lightweight…”

Gowns

Consideration

Gowns and protective suits may need to vary based on weather.

Voices from the Field

“...these yellow gowns. Those are really good in the summer weather… When it is rainy or cold or winter weather, the blue plastic gowns are a lot better…”
“...it was so cold that we had days where provider started wearing Tyvek suits, the full white marshmallow suit. One because it worked as PPE but two because it helped keep them slightly warmer. Now that we had a nice little bit there in the spring and now that it's summer, we are using, we switched over to the yellow reusable hospital gowns.”
Previous
Next

Self-cooling strategies

Consideration

Cool vests can also be worn on very hot days.

Voices from the Field

‘This cooling vest is probably the one of the greatest assets that we have had … It’s a vest with hidden pockets and in the pockets you put in ice packs…the vest hugs the core of the body … if you can cool down core, it will help with the rest of the body…then put the PPE on top of the vest.”
“We also have cooling towels so people are able to put the cooling towels in a packet inside the towel as well and snap it around the neck and so it helps to cool people.”
Previous
Next

Hydration

Consideration

Encourage staff to hydrate well before shifts. If masks are limited, staff may not have access to food or water for a significant period while collecting samples.

Voices from the Field

“…they stay in those masks for four hours, which is significant when you're thirsty and outside in the heat, so they have to hydrate before and after so that they don't feel ill”

Tents

Consideration

Consider quality of tents. 

Voices from the Field

“Don't cheap out on your tents because one of our sites had cheap tents and the bad weather hit it really hosed us.”

Staff rotations

Consideration

Staff shift length may need to be adjusted based on weather.

Voices from the Field

“We have enough team members that they rotate so people can take breaks because it is a lot to be out in the heat”

Scheduling

Consideration

Test in the mornings to beat the heat.

Voices from the Field

“Many of the testing sites around the city were only testing in the morning hours or early portions of the day to kind of save our employees from being out in the heat”

Equipment functioning

Consideration

Some test equipment cannot withstand extremes in temperature.

Voices from the Field

“A lot of the point of care tests that they have today have to be within certain temperature parameters so you cannot even perform the test outside unless you have a proper temperature.”
”...in the winter, it was so cold that our equipment would freeze, and we couldn't get the equipment to work because the batteries would instantly die. We had to wrap equipment in hand warmers and put them in like a warming tent in between patients because they wouldn't dry, and they wouldn't stay warm if you didn't.”
Previous
Next