Calm and Information Critical to Combating Coronavirus Threat
As concerns grow about the spread of the novel coronavirus, officially named COVID-19, the Bay Area Council remains committed to the health and well-being of our members and their employees. We have compiled information and resources from our member companies in the healthcare industry, as well as from state and federal government agencies, that you may consider disseminating and implementing as you deem appropriate. Oh yeah, and PLEASE wash your hands.
What is the current health threat in the U.S.?
According to the California Department of Public Health, while imported cases of COVID-19 have been detected in the U.S., there is no evidence of sustained person-to-person transmissions of the virus. On January 31, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared a public health emergency in the U.S. to aid the nation’s healthcare community in responding to the virus. While the CDC maintains that the potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is high, the immediate health risk for the general public in the U.S. is considered low at this time.
What are the symptoms and who is at a higher risk?
Symptoms include cough, sore throat, high temperature, and feeling tired and achy, which are symptoms similar to the flu. People with an increased risk of infection include people with underlying health issues, older adults and healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19.
How can individuals protect themselves and others?
Bay Area Council member company Kaiser Permanente recommends the following practices:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Cover mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch.
How can businesses and employers respond and prepare?
The CDC warns that as COVID-19 is likely to spread, workplaces and other places for mass gatherings may experience absenteeism. Local transportation, healthcare and emergency systems may also be affected. Employers are encouraged to to stay updated on the latest developments and follow certain strategies now:
- Prevent stigma and discrimination in the workplace by not making determinations of risk based on race or country of origin, and maintain confidentiality of people with confirmed infections.
- Actively encourage sick employees to stay home and to practice respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene. Anyone with signs of fever, a temperature of 100.4° or greater, or other symptoms for more than 24 hours should not come in to work.
- Separate employees who arrive to work with acute respiratory illness symptoms from other employees and send them home immediately.
- Perform routine environmental cleaning.
- Advise employees to take certain steps before or during travel. The CDC provides latest guidance and recommendations for each country. Ensure that your employees are aware of any policy for obtaining medical care outside of the U.S.
- Create a plan to implement in case of increased workplace absenteeism as well as an Infectious Disease Outbreak Response Plan.
For the full list of employer strategies, as well as for recommendations for how to create an Infectious Disease Outbreak Response plan, visit the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019.