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4. Health and Safety (of all, including employees)

Return to December 2020 update

Length: 2.5 min read;  555 words.

Note: The following paragraphs summarize the category of Health and Safety (H&S) observed in December. More information about the specific category from December (and previous months) can be found in the downloaded report(s).The number in square brackets (e.g., [X]) refers to a reference where the reader can find more infomation about a specific statement.  The references can be found in the References list below, Systematized References page or in the dowloaded report.


H&S has been discussed 20% more in December than in September (19.7% vs. 16.4%) mostly due to vaccine rollout. The December discussion focused on specific vaccine development, testing and authorizations  (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Sinovac, Johnson & Johnson, Astra Zeneca) [9][10] [11][12][13], vaccination priority (which groups should be vaccinated first) [16][17], vaccination rate [18], vaccine rumors [19], vaccine distributions [20][21][10][22][23][24], if vaccine can be required by employers [25], new variants (in the UK, South Africa and Brazil), increased number of infected, hospitalized and deaths globally [339][340] [341], updated official guidance about quarantine duration (14 days to 7-10 days) [39], masks [40] and airborne transmission (from institutions such as Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the US) [41][42], symptoms, drugs, wastewater testing [342], life insurance rejection for COVID survivors [343], etc. Margaret Keenan a 90-year-old Briton received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on December 8, 2020; less than a week after the UK became the first country to approve it. [4] She received the second dose on December 29. [5] 2021 will bring changes in three areas: testing, quarantine rules and the guidelines for social distancing [44]: cheap, rapid tests for covid-19 infection will become ubiquitous and due to vaccination rates governments will give their citizens more autonomy about socializing.

Mental health crisis deepens due to lockdowns and restrictions, unemployment, and uncertainties in general. The crisis is placing mental health service under strain. With different communities facing uneven impacts on their mental health, and unequal access to support, governments are being called on to ensure mental health services do not regress. WHO suggests following techniques to manage stress by identifying the problem: 1) notice your difficult thoughts and feelings; 2) name the thoughts and feelings (silently); and 3) refocus on what you are doing. [72] Psychiatrists suggest following steps for stress management: 1) listen to your body’s stress signals; 2) learn how to “triage”; 3) embrace imperfection; 4) build your anti-stress routine; and stick to it; and 5) try “acceptance coping” versus “solutions coping”. [344]. Manage difficult emotions (at work) with following steps: 1) accept your emotions; 2) recognize instead of react; 3) you are not your emotions; 4) look after your physical body; and 5) practice compassion, for yourself and others. [345] Reopenings and workplace re-entry continue to be marked with fears of virus contagion although vaccine rollout brought optimism. Employee burnout increased with WFH. [73] Employees should safeguard mental health while working from home by 1) stopping comparison with others in its tracks; 2) putting down your phone and quit doomscrolling; and 3) giving yourself some much-needed structure. Remember: Things aren’t “normal” (and your brain and body know it). [346] One way to calm an anxious mind: Notice when you’re doing OK. [347] Workplace safety, health and wellness of employees will remain a priority in the post-pandemic future (including building design and operations). [74][75][76]  Construction has the highest COVID-19 rate of nearly any industry [77]. Routine exercise, prayer or meditation and practicing gratitude are important for mental health and success. [289] 6 Don’ts in the morning: 1) don't plan out your day; 2) don't make unimportant decisions; 3_ don't forget to exercise; 4) don't forget to include protein in your first meal; 5) don't forget to take the right breaks; and 6) don't stick blindly to the same morning routine. [348] Adults between 18 and 64 years of age should do at least 3-5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or at least 75-150 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity every week to stay healthy. [349] A ‘Great Cultural Depression’ looms for legions of unemployed performers. [350]

See September Category Summary


[5] “Covid-19: First vaccine patient has her second jab”, BBC News, Dec. 29, 2020.
[9] “Here’s what you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccines”, Science News, Dec. 08, 2020. (accessed Mar. 03, 2021)
[11] D. M. ago / 10:38 A. PST, “CDC Director signs off on Pfizer vaccine recommendations”, NBC News. (accessed Mar. 02, 2021)
[12] D. Grady, A. Goodnough, C. Zimmer, and K. J. Wu, “F.D.A. Panel Endorses Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine”, The New York Times, Dec. 17, 2020.
[13] “This is why we should test everyone for COVID-19”, World Economic Forum. (accessed Mar. 03, 2021)
[18] “The newest supplier KPI? Employee vaccination rate.”, Supply Chain Dive. (accessed Feb. 15, 2021)
[19] “A Call For Help | No Mercy / No Malice”, No Mercy / No Malice | Professor Scott Galloway. (accessed Feb. 15, 2021)
[23] E. S. Smout Alistair, “Britain gets ready for rollout of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine this week”, Reuters, Dec. 06, 2020.
[24] H. Holland, “On Congo’s muddy trails, lessons for a global COVID vaccine rollout”, Reuters, Dec. 22, 2020.
[40] “In a First, the CDC Says to Use Masks Indoors When Not Home”,, Dec. 04, 2020.
[42] K. D. SFGATE, “Thinking of gathering indoors? Here’s how fast COVID transmission happens.”, SFGATE, Dec. 19, 2020. (accessed Mar. 03, 2021)
[44] “What to expect in year two of the pandemic”, The Economist, Nov. 17, 2020.
[73] “It’s official: Video call fatigue is real”, Construction Dive. (accessed Jan. 11, 2021)
[76] “Biden names workplace safety expert to COVID-19 task force”, Construction Dive. (accessed Jan. 11, 2021)
[339] J. H. and M. H. CNN, “US Covid-19 hospitalizations set another daunting record at 100,667”, CNN. (accessed Feb. 28, 2021)
[340] M. H. and D. A. CNN, “US Covid-19 hospitalizations hit another record high”, CNN. (accessed Mar. 01, 2021)
[343] “Covid Unknowns Leave Survivors Fearing Life Insurance Rejection”,, Dec. 02, 2020.
[346] “Safeguarding your mental health when you’re (still) working from home”, Work Life by Atlassian, Nov. 03, 2020. (accessed Mar. 03, 2021)
[347] “One way to calm an anxious mind: Notice when you’re doing OK”,, Sep. 29, 2020. (accessed Mar. 03, 2021)
[348] J. Haden, “6 Things You Should Never Do First Thing In the Morning”,, Nov. 18, 2020. (accessed Mar. 04, 2021)
[349] “This is how much physical activity we all need to stay healthy”, World Economic Forum. (accessed Mar. 04, 2021)
[350] P. Cohen, “A ‘Great Cultural Depression’ Looms for Legions of Unemployed Performers”, The New York Times, Dec. 26, 2020.
Monthly Summary: 
AEC and Pandemic: Response and Impact - December 2020 Update