COVID-19 dominates newsrooms across America right now, and if you are like most people, you are wondering what is true, when to worry and what to do – especially in your business. As an outsourced HR Director, I work with businesses large and small to make plans in light of many unknowns. I also spoke with Dr. Daniel Tran of Galen Healthcare, one of our wonderful clients, who reviewed this article.
Before discussing the prevention practices, I would like to address the negative inclusivity impact of COVID-19. Communities are reporting an increase in harassment of individuals who are or appear to be of Asian ethnicity. It is essential that you closely monitor your workplaces to ensure that this kind of behavior does not occur.
Most individuals are not at high risk even if they do contract COVID-19. The majority of cases are mild, and those most at risk include the elderly and people with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems. There is no need to be excessively anxious; however, as with any widespread illness situation, awareness and good hygiene are great prevention techniques.
To protect yourself and your employees, the CDC and SCDHEC recommend following standard good hygiene practices:
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including the following:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
What if you are a business trying to operate normally as the situation evolves? This situation is a perfect time to test (or create) your business continuity plan. Consider the following solutions:
- Encourage employees to stay home if they feel ill or if they have family members who are ill. As much as possible, equip employees who feel well but may need to be in quarantine to work remotely.
- Stock up on sanitizer and disinfectant wipes and make them available to your staff.
Consider putting a fresh disinfectant solution in a spray bottle each morning and
disinfecting common surfaces (counters, break areas, common workrooms, lobbies) 2-3
times each day. A solution of 1/2 cup of REGULAR bleach/1 gallon of water on (non-food) surfaces for at least 5 minutes is effectiveness against germs, bacteria, and viruses.
- Encourage employees to take regular breaks every 2 hours to wash their hands and to refrain from touching their faces.
- For employees who have frequent contact with the public (waitstaff, retail workers, bank tellers), provide access to hand sanitizer and provide signage asking customers who may be experiencing respiratory systems to wear a mask.
As we continue to learn more about the ways this new virus acts, new recommendations may be added to the above list; but, if you take these few steps, you will help ensure that you and your team stay healthy and your business continues to flourish.