BBJ: Dr. Leana Wen: Businesses must do their part to reduce risks when offices reopen

By Melody Simmons
May 19, 2020

Dr. Leana WenOffices should sanitize public spaces, door knobs and workstations on the hour and require workers to wear masks and remain hyper vigilant.

So says Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore’s former health commissioner and a national consultant on public health who has been a high-profile figure during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Wen spoke to business leaders in the city on May 19 during an online webinar, sponsored by the Greater Baltimore Committee, about dealing with the novel coronavirus. Her comments came after Maryland began to relax its stay-at-home order last week and as business owners start to consider how and when to reopen offices.

Donald C. Fry, GBC president, said the meeting was well timed.

“There is little doubt that we are at the initial stages of business reopenings, and it is critical that businesses understand and are prepared to take the appropriate steps needed to reopen,” Fry said.

Say goodbye to office kitchens, workout rooms, communal lunch breaks with co-workers and meetings in the conference room, Wen said. She urged caution when pushing elevator buttons and using work-based restrooms, and advised setting up work stations that are at least six feet apart. Non-essential travel should be nixed and even air quality in office buildings should be questioned.

Wen said guidelines posted on the CDC website about office reopenings were the best advice available for business leaders today. State and city health officials were also posting best practice guidance. Nevertheless, she remained skeptical on the entire topic of getting back to the office.

“So much of it is going to depend on the type of business,” she said. “My advice is to have a plan and be ready for that plan to change. Have someone designated to be in charge of that plan for enforcement. If people can continue telecommuting, they should do so.”

“Here’s what to watch for: something that occurs in a timeline of weeks or months, not days or weeks,” she said of the spread of the virus and its incubation period in individuals. “There is a lag of time. We should be very clear about our messaging: reopening is not an on-and-off switch. Nothing about the disease has changed — this virus is as contagious as it ever was. My guidance is reduce your risk any time you can.

“There will be ripple effects felt in all industries for years to come.”

To read the full story, visit Baltimore Business Journal’s website.

Source: Baltimore Business Journal

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