Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall has issued a declaration of a State of Local Emergency to prepare for the potential spread of COVID-19. While there are no known cases of COVID-19 in Salt Lake City, it is important that we act preemptively. To help prepare, the livestream “Corona Virus Employer Information Session” presented by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development provided some great employer guidance. Here’s our recap of that session:
First and foremost, our community is focused on health of individuals and populations. It is going to take everyone – business and government alike to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect those at risk.
We must also focus on the health of our businesses and as leaders, remain sensible and stay informed on the challenge ahead. The CDC has interim guidance for business and employers. The Salt Lake Chamber has posted some helpful employer resources for the corona virus (as well as the State of Utah) and the employer information session is posted here.
For any questions, call Utah’s Coronavirus Information Hotline: 1-800-456-7707
If You Have Symptoms, Stay Home
We get it. Especially for small business owners, it’s next to impossible to skip work. Or you may have a big deadline you need to meet at the office– you’re not feeling good, but you may want to plow through it anyway. And what if you or your employees don’t have sick leave? Or you have an employee that doesn’t want to use their sick leave? They may still come to work if they have like a slight fever and a slight cough. Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist, with the Utah Department of Health said, “(If they have COVID-19 symptoms) we do not want them to do that right now. They need to stay at home. We need to make sure that our leave policies are not a barrier and we need to protect the privacy of your employees.”
What would you do if you contracted the virus? What would happen if your employees contract the virus? What are what are some steps you can take now to prepare? At this point we are still a low risk state however, it is likely we will see more cases and therefore, important to anticipate and get your workplace ready.
The Incubation is 14 Days
Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist, with the Utah Department of Health said, “Because we don’t have vaccines and we don’t know the course of the disease it’s very important to understand this because this is the 14-day quarantine and isolation recommendations are based on this. An incubation period is from the time you’ve been exposed to the disease the maximum of time until you actually show symptoms. So, for COVID-19 that’s between 2 and 14 days. So, if you get exposed today, and you have no system for 14 days, that means you did not develop the disease and you’re clear to go.”
Dr. Dunn presented key facts to arm yourself with the right information.
The things we need to start thinking about for your business are:
- Will any type of mass gatherings impact your business?
- How will absenteeism impact your workforce? Let’s say worse case scenario is 50% absenteeism. Start cross-training employees and/or consider temp agency solutions ahead of time. Maybe there’s an option for staggering shifts.
- How will you implement technology solutions to overcome the challenge? While 80% of those that get the virus, the symptoms will actually be fairly mild. So, if you can telecommute it should be easier to work from the comfort of your own home.
- Think through potential supply chain eruptions. You might have already been feeling this already given the travel restrictions, but that’s likely to just increase as we move forward in this outbreak.
- Cancel work-related travel, especially to high risk countries. As of March 10th, cancel all non-essential travel to those countries of high risk – China, Korea, Iran, Japan and Italy.
- Learn how to identify employees who show symptoms. Call Utah’s Coronavirus Information Hotline: 1-800-456-7707, they can walk you through the process
Set an example. If you’re sick, stay home. Set a great example to the rest of your employees that they should also be the same.
Be flexible. Some employers may require a medical note for people to return to work. We’re asking at this time that you be flexible and consider (for those experiencing mild symptoms) this is overwhelming our healthcare systems, which prevents optimal care for the severe cases.
“We’re trying to avoid people who have symptoms mild symptoms rushing the emergency rooms and going to their clinics are overwhelming them,” said Dunn, “Let’s try to be a little more flexible in terms of trusting our employees of their staying home with symptoms that may not require an elevated the whole medical attention.”
Be smart, educate your employees. Increase cleanings of ‘high touch’ surfaces to 2 times per day. Handle food carefully. Practice good hand hygiene. Need more resources? A great place to start is coronavirus.utah.gov, Salt Lake County Health Department, and the Center for Disease Control’s website.
Highlights from the presentation:
As a business leader, you are part of the solution. You are needed in order to make sure that we don’t spread COVID-19 throughout our community. Increase cleanings, lead policies to educate your employees, and prepare for the health of individuals and your business to make sure that we can weather the storm.