Rather than allow our customers to be “scared out of their wits” OR have “wishful complacency”; our team has gathered the latest information about what other companies are doing, what real reported data is showing, and some on-point facts about COVID-19 and actions to take and consider.
First – A Few Facts that we’re learning about COVID-19 and immediate actions our customers should be taking:
The initial infection is marked by dry mouth and sinus with a dry cough and sore throat lasting 3-5 days. Then, it goes “wet” where the infection spreads to the lungs and develops into pneumonia. There are 1,268 confirmed cases with 37 deaths contributed to the COVID-19 in the US. That comes out to 2.81%, less than the world average of 3.68% of those known to be infected. There is 1 confirmed case in the KC Metro. However, nearby cities (Omaha, Iowa City, Lincoln) are starting to report larger outbreaks. The virus survives airborne for several hours. On metal surfaces for up to 12 hours. On clothing and fabrics for up to 12 hours.
Actions to Consider
Institute regular cleaning on all shared surfaces. Lunchrooms, Breakrooms, etc. should be wiped down several times per day with a known antimicrobial product (such as microban, lysol, even a mixture of standard isopropyl alcohol or chlorine bleach and water, works).
Restrooms should be cleaned several times per day with strict instructions to staff to wipe down surfaces after every use.
Stagger breaks and lunches into the smallest groups reasonable. Again, provide strict instructions to wipe down all used surfaces after every use (i.e. lunch table, sink, vending machines, etc.)
Restricting visits to your facilities (when possible) from persons outside of the KC Metro is advisable (especially if they are from the NorthEast Corridor, Washington State, where COVID-19 infections are rapidly growing).
Actions to Prepare for
There is a very real possibility that schools, churches, community gatherings, etc. will be suspended if there is a larger outbreak in the area. Many of the “Tech Giants” (especially Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are already instituting mandatory work-from-home until further notice for 100% of their employees.
Although unrealistic for some operations, preparations should be made for functions such as Accounting, Sales, Administration, etc. to be done from your workers homes.
This also means that your IT assets need to be ready for secure remote access. Each of our customers are unique in that there is some provisioning in this area already. Please feel free to lean on us EARLY as some remote assets (virtual desktops, hosted facilities, etc.) are starting to “pile up” on lead time. We’re now at 24hrs to deploy remotely hosted Windows Servers where just 10 days ago that lead time was under 2 hours. We only see it getting more difficult for the next couple months.
We really didn’t want to have to report this… But, supplies of toilet paper, cleaning wipes, products such as microban, face masks, etc. are now beginning to run out in some areas of the US. Stocking up now is highly advised.
Workplace HR Policy Changes/Modifications
Our current advice is to remove all doubt from employee policy and “real world” action when it comes to ill workers. Every employee should be instructed to stay home if they are showing any signs of illness. Any employee that is obviously ill and shows up for work should be immediatly sent home and advised to stay home (and to take care of themselves) until they get better.
We arn’t going to give guidance on pay/benefits/sickdays, etc. explicitly. But, our opinion is that setting aside additional paid days off may be an appropriate thing to do.
Obtaining Valid Information and Guidance
The following are reliable sources of real data on COVID-19:
NYT near realtime US Outbreak Map – https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html
CDC Prevention and Guidance Page – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-prevent-spread.html
National Institutes of Health COVID-19 Info Page – https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus#!/detail/403327
Kaiser Family Foundation US Tracking Map/Database – https://www.kff.org/global-health-policy/fact-sheet/coronavirus-tracker/