The Coronavirus has garnered a tremendous amount of attention the last few weeks as the virus continued to spread to more than 60 countries. Over the weekend, the United States reported the first deaths from the virus; both men from Washington state. Developments continue unfold daily. Currently, there are 90,000 affected and there have been more than 3,000 deaths.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person. Potentially it can be spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land on surfaced that are touched by others.
Know the Symptoms
The new virus causes respiratory illness in humans, usually 2–14 days after exposure. Illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Understand your risk
The CDC considers COVID-19 to be a serious public health threat, but individual risk is dependent upon exposure. For the general American public–those who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time–the immediate health risk is low.
Important recommendations for Employers from the CDC:
- Prepare for possible increased numbers of employee absences due to illness in employees and their family members, dismissals of early childhood programs and K-12 schools due to high levels of absenteeism or illness.
- Plan to monitor respond to absenteeism at the workplace. Implement plans to continue your essential business functions in case you experience higher than usual absenteeism.
- Cross-train personnel to perform essential functions so that the workplace can operate even if key staff members are absent.
- Assess your essential functions and the reliance that others and the community have on your services or products. Be prepared to change your business practices if needed to maintain critical operations: identify alternative suppliers, prioritize customers, or temporarily suspend some of your operations if needed.
- Employers with more than one business location are encouraged to provide local managers with the authority to take appropriate actions outlined in their business infectious disease outbreak response plan based on the condition in each locality.
- Coordination with state and local health officials is strongly encouraged for all businesses so that timely and accurate information can guide appropriate responses in each location where their operations reside. Since the intensity of an outbreak may differ according to geographic location, local health officials will be issuing guidance specific to their communities.
For more information from the CDC:
The World Health Organization distributed this update regarding travel: