As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread, we want to ensure you have access to resources to help you manage this evolving situation. We know that it can be a challenge to figure out how to plan for a situation such as this within your business and how to best to advise and protect your employees. With that, we are providing you with a link to the following resource, “Interim Guidance for Business and Employers to Plan and Respond to COVID-19”. This interim guidance is based on what is currently known about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will update this interim guidance as needed and as additional information becomes available.
This interim guidance may help prevent workplace exposures to acute respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, in non-healthcare settings. The guidance also provides planning considerations if there are more widespread, community outbreaks of COVID-19.
This guidance will provide you with:
- Recommended strategies for employers to use
- Planning for a possible COVID-19 outbreak
- Links to resources for more information
To prevent stigma and discrimination in the workplace, use the guidance only to determine risk of COVID-19. Do not make determinations of risk based on race or country of origin, and be sure to maintain confidentiality of people with confirmed COVID-19. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features of COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing. Updates are available on CDC’s web page at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/covid19.
Given the extent that this has been in the news, you are more than likely aware of COVID-19; what it is, how it spreads, the symptoms, and how to protect yourself. However, here is some information on COVID-19. You can also find more information at the CDC’s website here.
What is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
Can people in the U.S. get COVID-19?
Yes. COVID-19 is spreading from person to person in parts of the United States – there are now two reported cases in Saratoga County (as of 3/8/20). Risk of infection with COVID-19 is higher for people who are close contacts of someone known to have COVID-19, for example healthcare workers, or household members. Other people at higher risk for infection are those who live in or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.
Learn more about places with ongoing spread at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html#geographic.
The current count of cases of COVID-19 in the United States is available on CDC’s webpage at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html.
How does COVID-19 spread?
The virus that causes COVID-19 probably emerged from an animal source, but is now spreading from person to person. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of
• shortness of breath
What are severe complications from this virus?
Some patients have pneumonia in both lungs, multi-organ failure and in some cases death.
How can I help protect myself?
People can help protect themselves from respiratory illness with everyday preventive actions.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
If you are sick, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should:
• 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.
Is there a vaccine?
There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to take everyday preventive actions, like avoiding close contact with people who are sick and washing your hands often.
Is there a treatment?
There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms.
For more information you can visit www.cdc.gov/COVID19
The Society of Human Resources (SHRM) has published several articles on managing the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the workplace:
Coronavirus Prompts Companies to Telework – February 28, 2020
3 Ways to Keep Your Workplace Clean During Coronavirus Scare – March 3, 2020
When May Employers Require Workers to Self-Quarantine? – March 5, 2020
Airlines Cut Domestic Flights on Coronavirus Concerns – March 5, 2020
Coronavirus: Time to Rethink the Handshake – March 5, 2020
Protect the Privacy of Employees with Coronavirus – March 6, 2020
As Coronavirus Spreads, Managers Ask How to Handle Telecommuting – March 6, 2020
Stop These Coronavirus Myths from Spreading in Your Workplace – March 9, 2020