Spread the Word, Not the Virus

The Coronavirus has now been reported in 34 states.  States, businesses and organizations are implementing policies to prevent contracting or spreading the virus.  As the number of confirmed cases grows across the country, employers are faced with the potential impact to their employees and organization. The Center for Disease Control recommends the following strategies for employers to use now:

Actively encourage sick employees to stay home:

  • Employees with symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever, and any symptoms for 24 hours.
  • Ensure that your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidelines and that employees are aware of these policies.
  • Talk with companies that provide your business with contract or temporary employees about the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive leave policies.
  • Do not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.
  • Employers should maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. Employers should be aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual.

Separate sick employees:

  • The CDC recommends that employees who appear to have acute respiratory symptoms such as cough, upon arrival to work, or become sick during the day, should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately.
  • Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles in the office.
  • Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs in multiple locations or in conference rooms to encourage hand hygiene.
  • Instruct employees to follow coughing and sneezing etiquette; they should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. If they don’t have a tissue, they should cough or sneeze into their upper sleeve, not their hands.

Perform routine environmental cleaning:

  • Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.
  • No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended at this time.
  • Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use.

Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps:

  • Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which you will travel. Specific travel information for travelers going to and returning from China, and information for aircrew, can be found at on the CDC website.
  • Advise employees to check themselves for symptoms of acute respiratory illness before starting travel and notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
  • Ensure employees who become sick while traveling or on temporary assignment understand that they should notify their supervisor and should promptly call a healthcare provider for advice if needed.
  • If outside the United States, sick employees should follow your company’s policy for obtaining medical care or contact a healthcare provider or overseas medical assistance company to assist them with finding an appropriate healthcare provider in that country. A U.S. consular officer can help locate healthcare services. However, U.S. embassies, consulates, and military facilities do not have the legal authority, capability, and resources to evacuate or give medicines, vaccines, or medical care to private U.S. citizens overseas.

To download a list of links containing articles, fact sheets and posters from sources like the CDC, World Health Organization and more CLICK HERE.