LOS ANGELES — Restaurants continue to make changes in hopes of keeping their employees and customers safe while dining out. One Westwood eatery implemented a new system that could potentially detect COVID-19 days in advance. Fitness trackers may help detect early signs of the coronavirus.
Christian Jimenez, a server at the high-end restaurant Fellow, said he was a little nervous coming back to work after a seven-month closure during the pandemic.
"I was a little anxious," Jimenez said. "I just had a newborn baby three months ago, so safety is a priority."
He, of course, has his customers' safety on his mind, but also his family's saying.
"Having everyone take this seriously means everything for me and my family," he said.
The restaurant is taking this seriously and is going a step further in a unique way. Management has given a fitness tracker to every employee from the front to the back of house to wear and monitor their respiratory levels.
Fellow owner Philip Camino has been wearing the Whoop biometric tracker for a year, but recently he started to see the use change during the pandemic.
"Professional athletes used it to uncover if they had COVID. People like LeBron James and Patrick Mahomes are wearing them," Camino said.
One example that made news is when professional golfer Nick Watney wore this wearable device during the PGA Tour. He saw a spike in his respiratory levels, was concerned, and then got tested. He ended up being positive for the coronavirus.
"You see these stories this summer around biometric trackers, and people could uncover whether they had COVID or not within a three or four-day window. I thought this could be used in the workplace, especially a high touch business like a restaurant," Camino said.
All employees must track their respiratory levels daily to make sure they stay in the normal range and don't spike.
"It's a good pre-warning system," Camino said.
If they see a spike, then it could mean they are sick and must get tested right away. The warning stops anyone from coming into work and spreading the virus.
"I think the early warning system combined with CDC and health department regulations, those two things really create a safest environment possible for my guests," Camino said.
Fitness trackers like Whoop and FitBit have been conducting studies to see how reliable the technology is to detect COVID-19 early.
"To be able to go home to my baby and have that safety net, it makes me feel more comfortable at work," Jimenez said.