As cases of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) are rising across the country, the business community continues to be impacted by the disease. As of March 18, 2020, there were 10,442 cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Sporting events across the country are being held without fans in attendance. In Baltimore, fans were barred from attending the NCAA basketball tournament at Johns Hopkins University. Conferences and conventions, such as Baltimore’s Women of the World Festival and Austin’s SXSW, have been canceled and, locally, stores are selling out of hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol and cleaning products.
According to the CDC, COVID-19 is a “betacoronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath appearing anywhere from two to 14 days after an individual has been exposed.” COVID-19 is believed to be spread from person-to-person in close contact through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Several organizations, including the CDC, have provided suggestions to business leaders regarding the Coronavirus.
- Express the importance of proper hand-washing and staying home when sick: Due to the nature of how the disease spreads, it is important to emphasize that employees who are sick (or have members of their households who are sick) should stay home. Proper hand-washing for at least 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethyl alcohol if soap and water are not available should also be encouraged in order to help prevent the spread of germs.
- Use technology in place of human contact: Several businesses and organizations have advised their staff to work from home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Video conferencing platforms and communications apps such as Skype, GoToMeeting, Zoom and others can provide alternatives to meetings or working on-site. Consider hosting a webinar instead of an in-house seminar.
- Create an Infectious Disease Plan: In order to best protect their employees while continuing to operate successfully, businesses are encouraged to be ready to implement strategies in their organizations. Employers should consider whether they can establish flexible work locations and hours. Your plan may also call for coordinating with state and local officials. For detailed information on infectious disease plans, visit the CDC’s website.
- Communicate effectively: Employers should educate their staff on information regarding the virus, including prevention, infectious disease plans and other policies that organizations have in place in regards to sick time and working from home. These should be consistent with public health guidelines.
Where to go for official information
Dr. Leana Wen recommends the following resources:
The above photo was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Story by Zoe Adams