The Tennessee Pledge

UPDATE AS OF APRIL 27, 2020

From Bart Krisle - CEO:

The “Tennessee Pledge” – is a plan to help Tennesseans return to work in a safe environment, restore their livelihoods and reboot our state’s economy.
  • This plan was developed by Governor Lee, the Unified Command Group and Tennessee’s Economic Recovery Group with input from health experts, state and local partners and business and industry leaders.
  • This plan asks employees to commit to protecting themselves, their co-workers and the customers they serve.
Only by working together as a community of volunteers can we successfully reboot our economy, a vital component of our lives, security and liberty, and successfully move past this public health crisis.

 

Universal Guidelines:

For All Businesses:
  • The State is recommending safeguarding protocols for all businesses in Tennessee, including those that are re-opening and those essential businesses that have remained open during the Safer at Home order.
  • These safeguarding protocols are based on the recommendations of the CDC and OSHA.
  • To support the Pledge for Tennessee, all employers and employees should take steps to reopen safely, help other industries be able to open more quickly, and help Tennessee remain healthy and open for business.
For Employers:
  • Screen all employees reporting to work for COVID-19 symptoms with the following questions:
  • Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19?
  • Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat?
  • Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?
  • Have you had new loss of taste or smell?
  • Have you had vomiting or diarrhea in the last 24 hours?
 
  • Temperature screening employees:
    • Best practice: employers to take temperatures on site with a no-touch thermometer each day upon arrival at work.
    • Minimum: Temperatures can be taken before arriving. Normal temperature should not exceed 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
 
  • Direct any employee who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms (i.e., answers yes to any of the screening questions or who is running a fever) to leave the premises immediately and seek medical care and/or COVID-19 testing, per CDC guidelines. Employers should maintain the confidentiality of employee health information.
  • Implement workplace cleaning and disinfection practices, according to CDC guidelines, with regular sanitization of high-touch surfaces at least every two hours
  • Mitigate exposure in the workplace by implementing social distancing guidelines and modify scheduling
  • Allow employees to work from home as much as possible
  • Plan for potential COVID-19 cases, and work with local health department officials when needed (e.g., monitor and trace COVID-19 cases, deep clean facilities)
  • Covered employers and employees should be aware of the provisions of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which allows for paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons, such as for self- quarantining or seeking a medical diagnosis for COVID-19 symptoms
  • Update the Employee Illness Policy to include the symptoms of “COVID-19” or create a COVID-19 specific policy. All staff should sign the policy, and the policy should be posted for confirmation
  • Limit self-service options (customer samples, communal packaging, food/beverages, etc.)
  • Post extensive signage on health policies, including the following documents in the workplace to help educate building occupants on COVID-19 best practices:
    • CDC guidance to stop the spread of germs
    • CDC guidance on COVID-19 symptoms

CDC guidance on COVID-19 symptoms:
These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
For Employees:
  • Stay home when feeling ill, when exposed to COVID-19 (e.g., positive household member case), or if diagnosed with a confirmed case of COVID-19. Employees who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 according to the CDC (e.g., due to age or underlying conditions) are encouraged to stay home
  • Increase hygiene practices—wash hands more frequently, avoid touching face, practice good respiratory etiquette
  • Wear a cloth face covering (not an N-95 or medical mask, which should be reserved for healthcare workers) while at work and in public to help protect against the spread of the virus
  • Practice recommended social distancing to the greatest extent possible - “Further is safer”
  • Abide by guidelines established by employer, which may include the use of gloves, social distancing practices in the workplace, and increased sanitation

Tennessee Farmers Updated Work Plan (Phase One thru May 17):


All TFC Staff and Facilities:
  • Continue to practice strict social distancing, hygiene and self-monitoring for symptoms
  • We encourage you not to do any of the following, however if you do, then notify your supervisor if you personally:
  • Have any activity with an exposure greater than going to WalMart, Lowes, etc.
  • Travel to a known “hot spot for COVID-19” in the country
  • Are involved in a social gathering of more than 10 people
  • Travel by air, bus, train, ride share services or cruise ship
  • With the exception of Field Staff, all business travel must be approved by a member of the senior management team
  • Notify HR if you are in a CDC identified high risk category for severe illness and you need accommodations to perform the essential functions of your job.
La Vergne Office:
  • No visitor policy continues, except for TFC employees.
  • AsMark building continues as is.
  • Work from home continues as is.
TFC Field Staff:
  • Visit stores by invitation of the Member Manager only.
  • Farm visits at the request of a member coop or producer.
  • Continue to utilize phone and internet video services to remain in contact and assist member cooperatives.
CLICK HERE FOR "The Tennessee Pledge: Reopening Tennessee Responsibly" PDF

Communicating your COVID-19 Response:

For your customers:
  • Stress service. Co-op is known for its service, and this should be promoted. Emphasize delivery options that do not require customers to come in to the store, and enhance these services if necessary. Stockdale’s stores, for example, are offering items to be delivered directly to the customers’ cars. Customers simply call the store, and their order is brought out to them.
  • Notify the public quickly if there must be any changes to the normal hours and days of operation.
Social Media:
  • Use your social media to get this information out and connect with customers. You could also post these practices in your windows and at the sales counters where customers will see them. See examples from AgCentral (CLICK HERE) and from Stockdale’s (CLICK HERE).
  • For a Co-op general graphic (CLICK HERE). This graphic can use on your own social media page. If you need help creating copy to go with the graphic or to create handouts dealing with enhanced service/delivery methods, contact the TFC Communications Department.
  • Be flexible, monitor events, and make changes as necessary during this time.
Inner-Facility Communication Materials:

Any questions should be directed to the department and/or facility manager who will contact senior staff. If the situation requires other measures, we will communicate that information as soon as possible. With everyone working diligently together, we stand the greatest chance of minimizing any issues in connection with the Coronavirus outbreak.  
 
Thank you for your support and flexibility as we navigate a continuously changing situation. 
 

UPDATE AS OF APRIL 9, 2020

From Bart Krisle - CEO:

EMPLOYEES SHOULD NOT COME TO WORK IF THEY ARE EXHIBITING SYMPTOMS (FEVER, SHORTNESS OF BREATH, COUGH OR OTHER FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS) OF COVID-19.
 
As the spread of the coronavirus continues to increase and more COVID-19 cases are confirmed, now is a good time to discuss protocols when or if an employee or customer is diagnosed with coronavirus at TFC or a local Co-op.
 
A.  If an employee is at work exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms (fever, shortness of breath, cough or other flu-like symptoms), stay calm: 
  • Immediately separate the employee from other employees, and
  • Send the employee home until the employee has been fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least three full days (72 hours); the employee’s other symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved; and either at least seven days have passed since the employee’s symptoms first appeared or, if the employee is tested to determine if the employee is still contagious, and the employee has received two negative tests in a row, at least 24 hours apart. 
B.  If the employee who was exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms came into close physical contact with other employees during their time in the workplace (i.e., a distance of less than six feet for 10 to 30 minutes):
  • Identify and notify employees who were in contact with the symptomatic employee during the 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms.
  • Send those employees home to self-quarantine for 14 days. If any of those employees develop symptoms they should remain at home until they have been fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least three full days (72 hours); the employee’s other symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved; and either at least seven days have passed since the employee’s symptoms first appeared or, if the employee is tested to determine if the employee is still contagious, and the employee has received two negative tests in a row, at least 24 hours apart. 
  • Employers should clean the ill/potentially ill employee’s workspace. Be sure to stay up to date on the latest recommendations of the CDC and local health authorities.
C.  If an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19 or a presumptive case of COVID-19:
  • In the unlikely event the employee is at work when the employee receives the news, send the employee home immediately and follow the procedures outlined above.
  • If the employee is not in the workplace, notify all potentially impacted employees of their potential exposure — meaning all employees who were in close contact with the infected employee (within six feet for 10 to 30 minutes) during the 48 hours prior to onset of symptoms, and then send those employees home to self-quarantine for a period of at least 14 days.
  • Employers should clean the diagnosed/potentially diagnosed employee’s workspace.
  • Employers should not reveal the identity of the infected employee unless the infected employee has provided permission to share his or her name.
  • Like with any illness, the reason for an employee’s absence is confidential and should not be shared with others.
D.  If an employee informs an employer that the employee has come in close physical contact (less than 6 feet for 10 to 30 minutes within the 48 hours prior to that person exhibiting symptoms) with an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 or a presumptive case of COVID-19 outside of work:
  • Follow the same steps as B. above.
  • Send the employee home to self-quarantine for 14 days and, if they develop symptoms, until the employee has been fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least three full days (72 hours); the employee’s other symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved; and either at least seven days have passed since the employee’s symptoms first appeared or, if the employee is tested to determine if the employee is still contagious, and the employee has received two negative tests in a row, at least 24 hours apart. You should follow the same course of action with any employees with whom the reporting employee came in close contact over the prior 14 days.
As an employer, we can and should tell other employees that there is an employee showing symptoms and is being tested for COVID-19. We will not use that employee’s name, even though their coworkers will figure it out. We will not confirm or deny questions about identity. This notice will allow employees to make decisions in their personal life about how they want to act until the test results are known. We will use a simple statement such as: “A colleague of yours went home today after showing symptoms of COVID-19 and is being tested for the virus.”  
 
We again remind you that the PhysicanNow® telehealth service that is part of your BlueCross BlueShield group health service, and would be worthwhile to consider should you get sick. This is an excellent and affordable option for minor health concerns. The service will be processed the same as a doctor office visit, but at a flat rate of no more than $40 a call. You can get treatment through this service without going to the doctor office and sitting in the waiting room. You may access this information here, PhysicianNow telehealth, should you need treatment.
 
We understand you are naturally concerned about the situation, and we stress once again that the health and well being of our employees, our customers, and our community is our first priority.  Should you have questions, feel free to talk with your supervisor. And if you are feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed during this crisis, please remember the chaplain service is available for your spiritual needs and well being.


New Guidelines for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers:

Yesterday, the CDC released new guidance for employees who may have had exposure to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. According to the guidelines, “to ensure the continuity of operations of essential functions, CDC advises that critical infrastructure worker may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.”
 
According to the CDC information, a potential exposure means being a household contact or having close contact within 6 feet of an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in the period of time 48 hours before the person became symptomatic.
 
If you fit those guidelines for exposure, but remain asymptomatic, you should adhere to the following practices prior to and during your work shift.
 

  • Co-op will prescreen these employees by measuring their temperature and assess symptoms prior to allowing them to start work. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before the individual enters the workplace.

 

  • Regular Monitoring: As long as the employee doesn’t have a temperature or symptoms, they should self-monitor under the guidance of TFC Human Resources Department.

 

  • Wear a Mask: The employee should wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after the last exposure. If you are using a homemade mask, the apparatus must be approved by your supervisor, or if available, a mask will be provided for you.

 

  • Social Distance: The employee should maintain the 6-feet distance and practice social distancing as work duties permit in the workplace.

 

  • Disinfect and Clean Workspaces: Clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, and share electronic equipment routinely.

If an employee becomes sick during the day, they will be sent home immediately. Surfaces in their workspace should be cleaned and disinfected. The employee’s supervisor will collect information on persons who had contact with the ill employee during the time the employee had symptoms and 2 days prior to the exhibition of symptoms. Others at the facility with close contact within 6 feet of the employees during this time would be considered exposed.
 
Co-op would then follow the guidelines in item B above.




UPDATE AS OF APRIL 1, 2020

From Bart Krisle - CEO:

EMPLOYEES SHOULD NOT COME TO WORK IF THEY ARE EXHIBITING SYMPTOMS (FEVER, SHORTNESS OF BREATH, COUGH OR OTHER FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS) OF COVID-19.
 
As the spread of the coronavirus continues to increase and more COVID-19 cases are confirmed, now is a good time to discuss protocols when or if an employee or customer is diagnosed with coronavirus at TFC or a local Co-op.
 
A.  If an employee is at work exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms (fever, shortness of breath, cough or other flu-like symptoms), stay calm: 
  • Immediately separate the employee from other employees, and
  • Send the employee home until the employee has been fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least three full days (72 hours); the employee’s other symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved; and either at least seven days have passed since the employee’s symptoms first appeared or, if the employee is tested to determine if the employee is still contagious, and the employee has received two negative tests in a row, at least 24 hours apart. 
B.  If the employee who was exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms came into close physical contact with other employees during their time in the workplace (i.e., a distance of less than six feet for 10 to 30 minutes):
  • Identify and notify employees who were in contact with the symptomatic employee during the 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms.
  • Send those employees home to self-quarantine. If any of those employees develop symptoms they should remain at home until they have been fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least three full days (72 hours); the employee’s other symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved; and either at least seven days have passed since the employee’s symptoms first appeared OR, if the employee is tested to determine if the employee is still contagious, and the employee has received two negative tests in a row, at least 24 hours apart. 
  • Employers should clean the ill/potentially ill employee’s workspace. Be sure to stay up to date on the latest recommendations of the CDC and local health authorities.
C.  If an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19 or a presumptive case of COVID-19:
  • In the unlikely event the employee is at work when the employee receives the news, send the employee home immediately and follow the procedures outlined above.
  • If the employee is not in the workplace, notify all potentially impacted employees of their potential exposure — meaning all employees who were in close contact with the infected employee (within six feet for 10 to 30 minutes) during the 48 hours prior to onset of symptoms,
and then send those employees home to self-quarantine.
  • Employers should clean the diagnosed/potentially diagnosed employee’s workspace.
  • Employers should not reveal the identity of the infected employee unless the infected employee has provided permission to share his or her name.
  • Like with any illness, the reason for an employee’s absence is confidential and should not be shared with others.
D.  If an employee informs an employer that the employee has come in close physical contact (less than 6 feet for 10 to 30 minutes within the 48 hours prior to that person exhibiting symptoms) with an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 or a presumptive case of COVID-19 outside of work:
  • Follow the same steps as B. above.
  • Send the employee home to self-quarantine and, if they develop symptoms, until the employee has been fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least three full days (72 hours); the employee’s other symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved; and either at least seven days have passed since the employee’s symptoms first appeared OR, if the employee is tested to determine if the employee is still contagious, and the employee has received two negative tests in a row, at least 24 hours apart. You should follow the same course of action with any employees with whom the reporting employee came in close contact over the prior 14 days.
As an employer, we can and should tell other employees that there is an employee showing symptoms and is being tested for COVID-19. We will not use that employee’s name, even though their coworkers will figure it out. We will not confirm or deny questions about identity. This notice will allow employees to make decisions in their personal life about how they want to act until the test results are known. We will use a simple statement such as: “A colleague of yours went home today after showing symptoms of COVID-19 and is being tested for the virus.”  
 
We again remind you that the PhysicanNow® telehealth service that is part of your BlueCross BlueShield group health service, and would be worthwhile to consider should you get sick. This is an excellent and affordable option for minor health concerns. The service will be processed the same as a doctor office visit, but at a flat rate of no more than $40 a call.  You can get treatment through this service without going to the doctor office and sitting in the waiting room.  You may access this information here, PhysicianNow Telehealth, should you need treatment.
 
We understand you are naturally concerned about the situation, and we stress once again that the health and well being of our employees, our customers, and our community is our first priority.  Should you have questions, feel free to talk with your supervisor. And if you are feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed during this crisis, please remember the chaplain service is available for your spiritual needs and well being.
 
As a reminder all employee communications and attachments are on this site.
 
Stay safe and continue to be responsible at work, at home, and in our communities.



UPDATE AS OF MARCH 30, 2020

From Bart Krisle - CEO:

This afternoon Governor Bill Lee issued a two-week statewide order closing non-essential businesses and telling residents to stay at home to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The order is similar to restrictions already in place in Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, and Chattanooga and more than half of other states across the country.
 
The order takes effect at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday and will last through April 14, during which time only essential businesses are to continue to operate. Residents are strongly encouraged to stay home as much as possible.
 
"This is not a mandated 'shelter in place' order, because it remains deeply important to me to protect personal liberties," Lee said at a Monday afternoon news briefing.
 
As a reminder, Co-op is one of those essential businesses that is still allowed to operate during this time. Employees should print off the Travel Permit in the resource library below and carry it in case they are stopped or questioned by local authorities in the course of their work. Our role in the food supply chain is vital to our society, and we can’t allow this crisis to hinder our duty to continue to provide the products and services our farmers require.
 
Governor Lee’s directive comes on the heels of President Trump’s announcement yesterday that current CDC social distancing guidelines would remain in place until April 30.
 
TFC employees should expect to continue working in their current manner — whether working from remotely or at a TFC facility until that time. We will communicate any changes in this situation as needed.
 
I strongly encourage you to continue to be responsible at home, at work, and in our communities.



UPDATE AS OF MARCH 24, 2020: Co-op's Response to COVID-19

From Bart Krisle - CEO:

The message below went out today to our member Co-ops. The entire message is being included here for the sake of transparency with our employees. The essential points to take away from this message are these:
  • Agriculture has been deemed ‘critical infrastructure’ amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Co-ops will remain open due to this status in spite of these restrictions.
  • We have added transportation permits to our resource library which are documents for employees and truck drivers who may need them in the event of a stay/executive order. Please print off and give to your team members.
Additionally, we are including in Addendum #12 information on the PhysicanNow® telehealth service that is part of your BlueCross BlueShield group health service. This is an excellent and affordable option for minor health concerns. The service will be processed the same as a doctor office visit, but at a flat rate of no more than $40 a call.  You can get treatment through this service without going to the doctor office and sitting in the waiting room.  Be sure to keep this information handy, and consider it should you need treatment.
 
We understand you are naturally concerned about the situation, and we stress once again that the health and well being of our employees, our customers, and our community is our first priority.  Should you have questions, feel free to talk with your supervisor.
 
We will continue to monitor this situation and communicate developments.

UPDATE AS OF MARCH 23, 2020 TO MEMBER MANAGERS

From Bart Krisle - CEO:

Yesterday, Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order 17 calling for businesses across the state to utilize alternative business models beginning at midnight CDT on Monday, March 23 until midnight CDT April 6, 2020. While most of the order applies to restaurants, bars, and gyms and imposes restrictions on visitors to nursing homes, retirement homes, and long-term care or assisted-living facilities, it also encourages businesses to “enact policies that take extra steps to assist vulnerable populations by considering measures such as shopping hours exclusive from the general public.”
 
Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced greater restrictions yesterday as well through a “Safer at Home Order, issued by the Medical Director pursuant to the Metro of Public Health Department’s declaration of a Health Emergency. The order closes non-essential businesses and encourages residents throughout Davidson County to stay home when possible and avoid social gatherings of 10 or more for 14 days beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday, March 23.
 
Read the text of Governor Bill Lee’s Executive Order 17 here. (Addendum 7)
 
Read the text of Mayor John Cooper’s Press Update here (Addendum 8)
 
Many of our Co-ops have already taken the important step of offering curbside delivery methods.  If your Co-op has not already done so, I would encourage you to implement a similar policy immediately. There could be further restrictions in the coming days, and it is important for all our Co-op community to stay ahead of these developments.
 
Additionally, be sure to remind your customers and the general public that Co-ops are open and considered an essential business.  Should further restrictions be issued, it’s important for the general public to understand that Co-op is considered an essential business. Communicate any changes in business practices, hours/days of operation, or enhanced services to customers as quickly as possible.
 
(See communications suggestions below on this website.)
 
Should your local government implement a similar policy, or issue one that goes further than either of these examples, please notify Chief Marketing Officer Phil Farmer.
 
I remind you once again to stress good hygiene practices and social distancing with your employees and customers. And be sure to follow the guidelines in the message below should an employee or customer test positive for the coronavirus.
 
TFC has implemented a work force redundancy plan for the LaVergne office. If you have a problem communicating with any TFC employees, contact the appropriate department or facility manager.
 
These words bear repeating, too. We encourage you to be responsible.  Be responsible at home; at work, and in our communities.   Be safe, but take caution as if everyone is a carrier of the virus. We are part of our nation’s food supply system, therefore we are not afforded the luxury of shutting down operations as a mere precaution.
 
Thank you for your cooperation and all you are doing for agriculture, our customers, and our Co-op system.
 
Rest assured we will get through this. Stay safe and stay well. We are all in this together.