What’s becoming clear very quickly is that fears and anxieties associated with a potential coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the U.S. are increasing. As our newsfeeds continue to fill with updates from trusted media sources and health experts, the communications team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is doing a stellar job keeping us all informed about the status of this threatening health epidemic around the globe. The virus has quickly spread from its place of origin in Wuhan City, China, to more than 50 other destinations, including the U.S. And yes, it’s scary. The CDC recently released an informational fact sheet that can be a good resource for all of us to reference and share, as questions and concerns continue to rise. Fallston Group has attached that document for your convenience.
Over the past couple of days, Fallston Group has fielded a handful of phone calls and inquiries from our clients and partners, all looking for advice and guidance on how to be proactive in minimizing risks within their businesses. So, today’s blog post is designed to share our non-clinical thoughts and recommendations with the masses. Our hope is that the information we are disseminating will help you take the necessary precautions to keep your workplace safe.
According to health experts, the symptoms associated with the coronavirus are mild to severe respiratory conditions, often leading to a persistent cough, shortness of breath, and a fever. Let’s remember, however, that it’s early March. Everywhere you turn right now, you see someone battling these symptoms, otherwise considered status quo as part of what many of us assume is the common cold or even the flu. How do we really know? We don’t. That said, now, more than ever is the time to be cautious. A few specific recommendations we’re passing along, derived from health experts:
- Don’t assume those nagging symptoms aren’t anything to be worried about, or that they will eventually fade away on their own (let’s face it – we’ve all been there). If members of your team are experiencing these symptoms, encourage them to check in with their doctors, without delay. It may even be worth mentioning that they can schedule the appointment during work hours if needed, without clocking out.
- Make it very clear to your team that you do not want them to come to work when they are feeling under weather or experiencing symptoms similar to those associated with coronavirus. Every manager is different, but one client of ours has temporarily adjusted their sick leave policy, allowing their people to make-up hours or days during non-traditional work hours. They are even implementing remote work protocols. Some may say this is excessive. I personally believe it’s smart. Your people need to know that keeping your workplace safe and healthy is a top priority right now. But don’t just say it. Show it.
- Remind everyone you work with, or who passes through your workspace, that handwashing is KEY to preventing the spread of germs. Yes, everyone already knows that. Tell them again. And then maybe one more time. The CDC is also encouraging people to try to avoid touching their eyes, noses, and mouths as much as possible.
- Give your team members the right tools to help keep your workplace clean and healthy. Pick up some additional boxes of tissues, some extra bottles of hand sanitizer, and a few tubs of disinfectant wipes. Position them plentifully around the office, and encourage people to use them frequently. Make it easy for folks to do their part in reducing the spread of germs, and they probably will.
Now … what to do if you suspect the coronavirus has entered your workplace? That’s a tricky question because it depends on the nature and size of your business, as well as what specifically is happening that has caused alarm. If possible, close the office for the day, and ask that each member of your team – even those demonstrating no signs or symptoms of illness – see a primary care or urgent care physician, immediately. This recommendation is based on the fact that the CDC believes most people impacted by this virus will present with symptoms two to 14 days after exposure. Hopefully, all members of your team will return the next day with a confirmation of a clean bill of health. Again, some may feel this is excessive. My opinion is that it is better to be safe than sorry. Some businesses are even calling in additional cleaning and disinfectant crews to add an extra layer of protection during off-hours.
I encourage you to visit the CDC web site frequently for information and updates. You can access it here. All of us must be informed, share what we know and take action.
Stay safe. Stay well. And let’s all do our best to stay healthy.