June 3, 2020 

Copyright New York Times 2020. Counties shown in red and orange represent areas where infections are increasing. Click here to go to the live interactive map.

Advice & Resources to Keep You Safe When Reopening  Doors to the Public

Check our COVID-19 RESOURCE CENTER at  https://www.aprx.org/home/covid-19-resource-center  for constantly updating guidelines & resources

  Front Door Sign (CDC)
Strive For Safety of Your Patients & Staff

As you reopen your doors to business, you and your employees should take serious steps to mitigate the threat of COVID-19 in your pharmacy. An infection on your staff can jeopardize the health of your employees and the safe operation of your pharmacy.

  1. Closely monitor the infection trend in your geographical area. The New York Times maintains a constantly updated, color-coded map showing the infection status of every county in the U.S. If cases are still accelerating in your area, please weigh your situation carefully.
  2. Monitor the health of all employees and check them daily before they enter the pharmacy. This screening should include a temperature and symptoms check. Self-screening is acceptable as long as employees are well-informed and consistent in the effort. Make sure you have an up-to-date list of COVID-19 symptoms - they now include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of taste/smell.
  3. Post a sign on entrance doors to discourage people from entering if they have any cold- or flu-like symptoms. Encourage them and other patients who are elderly or compro-mised to get their scripts via delivery, drive-through or curbside pickup, or have a healthy friend or relative pick them up.
  4. If you have a high-traffic store, consider limiting the number of people you allow inside. Post signs at your doors and markers inside for maintaining safe distancing (6 feet) in lines and aisles. Use floor decals or colored duct tape to indicate how people should distance or line up.
  5. Regularly disinfect workstations and counters with diluted bleach, alcohol or spray disinfectant. (Supplies of these products have improved greatly.) Disinfect around all cash registers and where patients pick up or drop off prescriptions. Sanitize the handles and surrounding area on all entry doors and any other frequently touched surfaces. Set alarms to conduct these cleanings at regular intervals.
  6. Consider installing acrylic or plexiglass shield barriers (often known as "sneeze guards") at all cash registers and counter locations where you typically interact with patients. If you have a consult room and are resuming patient meetings,  put a tabletop shield barrier in that room.
  7. Make sure all employees know the risks, symptoms and transmission of COVID-19. Employees should use safety precautions at home and elsewhere. Make sure employees tell you immediately if they or any member of their household are not feeling well.
  8. Have a plan in place in case you or one of your employees is exposed to COVID-19. Use the CDC flowchart as a guide.
  9. Make sure your employees know what to do if they identify a patient with COVID-19 symptoms. 
  10. If you are conducting (or planning to conduct) testing for COVID-19 infection or antibodies, consider setting up your test site in the parking lot or some other external location.
Additional Recommendations from the CDC (just Published)
  • Pharmacists & technicians should wear a face mask in the pharmacy, regardless of the presence or absence of symptoms among the staff.
  • Encourage all prescribers to submit prescriptions via telephone or electronically. Develop procedures to avoid handling paper prescriptions, in accordance with applicable state laws, regulations or executive orders.
  • Avoid handling insurance or benefit cards. Instead, have the patient photograph the card for processing or read the information out privately to you.
  • Encourage the use of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes by patients in the pharmacy and have them available at register locations, if possible.
  • Pharmacists providing patients with disease management services, MTM and other services that do not require face-to-face encounters should make every effort to use telephone, telehealth or telepharmacy strategies.
  • Close self-service blood-pressure units.
Sample Employee Policies & Procedures

These suggested policies were developed for pharmacies located in areas of growing COVID-19 infection. They should be modified as appropriate to your individual community and pharmacy situation.

Pharmacy Entry & Employee Screening
  • Employees should enter the pharmacy via the BACK DOOR ONLY.
  • All employees should receive a temperature check when they arrive at the start of their shifts, after lunch and before leaving for the day. This check occurs before clocking in.
    • If an employee registers an initial temperature deemed to be abnormally high for that individual,  perform a second, oral temperature check. Based on the second temperature reading, consider if it is appropriate for the employee to go home and monitor his/her temperature for the next 24 hours.
  • Before entering the pharmacy work area, clean your personal cellphone with alcohol, place it on the break-room charger station or table, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. After completing these procedures, clock in for work.
  • You are encouraged to bring your own lunch to avoid leaving the pharmacy during your shift.
Workstation & Personal Sanitizing
  • All workstations should be wiped down with alcohol or disinfectant wipes upon employee arrival and departure. Set an alarm to go off periodically to remind staff to clean their workstation, keyboard, mouse and phone.
  • Employees should clean their hands often by washing thoroughly with soap for at least 30 seconds or using a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Hand-washing is preferred.
Employee Illness
  • Notify your supervisor and stay home if you feel sick. Also tell your supervisor immediately if you have a family member who has a fever or becomes sick.
  • Notify your supervisor immediately if you are diagnosed with - or suspect you have - COVID-19 or if anyone at home is or may be infected. In either case, do not report to work.
  • All employees should act responsibly outside of work to protect themselves, their family and coworkers by limiting exposure in public places, washing hands frequently, practicing good hygiene and implementing enhanced cleaning practices in their homes.
Keep Employees Informed

The list of known COVID-19 symptoms has expanded and infected people report a wide range of effects from no symptoms to life-threatening illness. Known symptoms include:  Fever or chills | Cough | Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing | Fatigue | Muscle/body aches | Headache | New loss of taste or smell | Sore throat | Congestion or runny nose | Nausea or vomiting | Diarrhea.

Reporting Potential Cases

As part of the nation's health-care network, pharmacists should help identify and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The CDC advises that any health-care provider who is concerned that a patient or staff member may have COVID-19 -- and who wants to report it -- should contact their local or state health department to report the case. Following are links to directories of both local and state health authorities for all 50 states.

Your APRx Board

Alton Kanak, R.Ph.
Joe Ochoa, R.Ph.  
Vice Chairman
Steve Hoffart, Pharm.D.
Lynn Everett, R.Ph.     
Mike Muecke, R.Ph.
Vance Oglesbee, R.Ph.
Bruce Rogers, R.Ph.