At this point everyone has heard about and seen the effects of the coronavirus, or Covid-19. The outbreak that started in Wuhan, China and was introduced to the world via Social Media videos of quarantined people and workers sanitizing the streets.
The virus has now spread to 65 countries (and the count is growing.) Here in the United States (as of this writing) there are 113 reported cases and 6 deaths.
Coronavirus is a concern and it should be a wake-up call for businesses to review their operating policies and procedures, for both employees and customers. Now is the time to get information out to your employees and customers about your strategies for handling illness and the potential spread of Covid-19.
Per the CDC, “coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people.”
The Covid-19 strain is a new virus first detected in China. The virus causes coughing, a fever, and breathing difficulties. It can lead to pneumonia. Antibiotics are of no use in curing this virus and antiviral drugs used for the flue will not work either.
Covid-19 is transmitted via airways, moving from person to person through droplets from coughing or sneezing. The droplets travel by air and settle on the skin of the person or other surfaces such as doorknobs, phones, etc. Once someone inhales the droplets or touches an infected surface and touches their face the virus is spread.
Symptoms can take weeks to appear and even those showing no signs of illness can still spread the disease.
Prepare Your Workplace & Protect Employees
Regarding the area you and your employees work in, it is important to take precautions when someone is ill. The CDC recommends:
Staying home if you have respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath.)
Staying home if you have a fever of 100.4 or above.
Covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing with a tissue or elbow – not your bare hands.
Washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water.
Using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
If your employees are sick you should encourage them to stay home and recover. Establish a new or temporary sick leave protocol specifically for this time and come up with strategies to keep your business going if you should have high number of employees out sick.
Additionally, it is a good time visit strategies to allow employees to work from home if possible. The fewer people you have in the workplace; the less likely illness will spread.
Prepare Your Workplace & Protect Your Customers
Allowing your employees to stay home from the workplace when sick is a great way to avoid any spread of any illness. However, you can’t necessarily keep sick customers from entering your workplace, especially if you are a brick-and-mortar location. It is also a concern for your employees who work in the field encountering sick people in their homes.
Make sure your workplace surfaces exposed to the public are cleaned and sanitized daily. Establish a policy that you can share with the public describing the protocols your business has put into place regarding public areas and employees entering customer homes.