Recent news reports surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) have caused concern among employers and the general public. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said there is likely no way to stop the virus from spreading, it must be stressed that there is no need to panic. Today, less than 90,000 people worldwide have been diagnosed with COVID-19. With less than 100 in the United States. While those numbers are sure to rise, keep in mind that this flu season the USA alone has seen over 32 million people come down with the flu and over 18,000 of them have died. There is no telling if the coronavirus will reach or exceed those levels, but it currently has a long way to go. Much like the flu, we can all
take action now to prepare.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some individuals may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. About 2% of people with the disease have died. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging businesses to begin preparations for the spread of the Coronavirus in the United States. In order to assist you in these preparations, you are encouraged to take the following steps:
- Educate your employees
- What You Need to Know About the Coronavirus
- What To Do When You Are Sick
- Hygiene and health is key - Practicing standard sanitation and hygiene regimens is a top priority.
- Encourage frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water Hand Washing Guidance
- Hand sanitizer, with at least 60% alcohol content, is a secondary option
- Remind everyone to keep noses and mouths covered when coughing or sneezing Coughing and Sneezing Etiquette
- Avoid touching in and around the eyes, with unwashed hands
- Everyone who has not yet had a flu shot should get one as soon as possible
- Follow the CDC recommendations for employers:
- Employer Guidance: PREPARE NOW
- Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette, and hand hygiene by all employees
- Perform routine environmental cleaning
- Update your absenteeism policy and communicate the requirements
- Update your work from home policy and communicate the requirements
- Planning Considerations
- Prepare for increased absenteeism
- Cross train employees to handle other functions
- Encourage employees to develop contingency plans for child care in the event there are long term closures of schools and day care centers
- Prepare for business interruption
- Identify alternative suppliers
- Prioritize certain customers
- Prepare to shut down certain functions
- Sign up for the CDC newsletter to receive weekly emails about the coronavirus disease 2019-2020 outbreak
Hopefully this helps everyone stay more informed and proactive as we work together to provide guidance to our families, friends and team members during this outbreak.