Responding to the Coronavirus
The volume of news about COVID19 can be overwhelming, which is why I hesitated to make it the topic of this quarterly update. However, there are members and centers asking for advice and direction specific to our industry, both in terms of the population you serve as well as your employees and volunteers. One important thing to keep in mind, the evidence so far denies reason to panic but justifies planning.
The first step in planning is to discuss and determine your center's agreement and strategy around the following topics:
- Workplace safety precautions. What are your guidelines to keep the virus from infecting or spreading at your center? (See CDC recommendations below)
- Employee travel restrictions. Will you restrict business travel?
- Provisions for stranded employee travelers unable to return home.
- Identification of critical employee positions and how you will operate if a significant portion of your staff is out sick at the same time.
- Mandatory reporting of exposure, such as employees, participants or volunteers reporting to the center and the center reporting to public health authorities. This may include a request to share any recent travel locations.
- Facility shutdowns. At what point should the center shut down to the public?
- Communication. Who, what, when and how are you communicating? It's important to keep everyone informed. However, be wary of language that could add panic rather than calm.
In addition, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases like COVID19 and other flus, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
The above information from the CDC could be very valuable to communicate to your participants, volunteers and employees.
Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Redmond, WA, has already started executing on their plan, including their communication to the various stakeholders. Paula Del Giudice, Executive Director, graciously gave me permission to share their communication as an example that our members are welcome to build from. Click here to read their communication.
Lastly, check with your county and/or state public health department for up to date information and to determine what they recommend. They will also be a good resource for additional information that can be used and shared.
I encourage you to reach out to the PATH Intl. staff, your PATH Intl. region or state rep, as well as each other for additional assistance. I have already seen some good activity on region Facebook pages, which is another good resource for support. One of the things I love about this industry is the support I see you extending to each other.
Thank you, for your part.
All the best,