The coronavirus is certainly creating a stir when my 10-year old grilled me about where it is, how fast it is spreading, how many people have died and how close is it to home. The conversation with my son ended with his proclamation that he does not want to die and would like us to have a plan to go somewhere far if it comes close to home. I think his suggestion was close to Disneyland. Yes, this conversation really did happen.
In all seriousness, the coronavirus situation continues to develop but it is not as deadly as other diseases. Obviously, we still need to take precautions. To put things in perspective, the Marburg virus of 1967 is a relative of Ebola. Although contained, it had a fatality rate ranging from 24-88% according to the World Health Organization. There had been other outbreaks. The most recent one was in 2005 where 329 out of 374 people died in Uganda.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regularly update. I checked the CDC website this morning and this is what is posted:
The situation in U.S. (www.cdc.gove/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html)
- Imported cases of COVID-19 in travelers have been detected in the U.S.
- Person-to-person spread of COVID-19 was first reported among close contacts of returned travelers from Wuhan.
- During the week of February 23, CDC reported community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 in California (in two places), Oregon and Washington. Community spread in Washington resulted in the first death in the United States from COVID-19, as well as the first reported case of COVID-19 in a health care worker, and the first potential outbreak in a long-term care facility.
The CDC website also includes a section on risk assessment. Although the risk to the American public may be considered lower than other countries, we must take steps to protect ourselves.
According to the CDC, you and your family must follow everyday preventive measures including:
- If you feel sick, stay home. While respiratory disease symptoms are linked to the coronavirus, these symptoms may likely be due to the flu or other respiratory viruses.
- If you cough or sneeze, cover it up with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash. I recommend carrying extra tissue and send tissue with your kids to school. The old sneezing and coughing in the elbow used to be fine. We need to step up our preventive measures by disposing any excrements from coughing and sneezing. Re-train yourself and your family.
- Washing your hands may seem obvious but it is important to wash your hand how and when. The rule of thumb is 20 seconds. You can sign happy birthday to yourself twice I your head while you scrub and it may just put a smile on your face. Imagine if your surgeon washed their hands with a quick rinse right before surgery? Wash your hands as if your life or your loved ones depend on it. Everyone knows to wash their hands after using the restroom. But, please wash your hands before and after eating and after coughing or sneezing or blowing your nose. Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%-95% alcohol in case water is not readily available.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also advises to avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands and to avoid close contact with people who are sick. We use disinfecting sprays and wipes for our phones, desks, keyboards, headsets, doorknobs. But there are other high-touch places people do not think about. The printer, backs of chairs, arms on chairs, microwave buttons, and all personal electronics. We use handy, individually-packed alcohol wipes safe for electronics for our cell phones, laptops, and tablets.
- Spread the news to avoid spreading the virus and to prepare just in case.
- Talk to your staff about the disease and the preventive measures you want everyone to take. Make it part of the company culture that we are all doing our part to protect one another. In the event that an outbreak takes place, have a plan.
- Encourage employees to stay home of they feel sick.
- If an employee comes to work sick or gets sick while at work, separate them immediately and send them home.
- Post signs in the restroom regarding handwashing and respiratory etiquette.
- Disinfect your workspaces routinely
To access a business continuity plan, visit your business insurance carrier website or the one provided by the government at www.Ready.gov. This website will give you free software.
Businesses in California have already experienced business interruptions from fires all over the state. Another disruption of a large magnitude could be economically devastating even if it does not happen to your specific business. Your vendors, clients, employees and other stakeholders’ ability to fulfill their obligations affect your business. This can be overwhelming. Before taking economic changes like canceling orders, events, moves, etc., please consider the following:
- It is important to remain calm to ensure responses are measured and appropriate
- Ignore rumors. Follow trusted sources of information, including the websites for the CDC, the WHO, OSHA, and also local governmental health and public safety organizations
- Be prepared. Create a plan for yourself, your family, your community, and your organization and trust in that plan. Be sure to follow the steps that have been laid out
- Communicate. Be sure to communicate plans and information to all involved, including employees, volunteers, clients, parents, and others.
As always, we are here for you. Please call us of you need links to any of this information or the contact for your insurance carrier for the business continuity plan.
At your service,
Brenda Allison, Broker