This guide is based on information that is currently known about the coronavirus, COVID-19, and precautions recommended by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC will release additional information and resources as needed. BRAC maintains emergency preparedness resources online at brac.org/recovery.
The CDC is currently working with the Department of Health and Human Services and other government agencies to learn as much as it can about COVID-19, more commonly known as coronavirus. Information about how the virus is spread is currently unknown, and current knowledge is based off of what is known about similar coronaviruses.
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common in humans and many species of animals including camels, cattle, cats and bats. Animal coronaviruses rarely infect and spread between people like other diseases such as MERS-CoV or SARS-CoV. The virus originated in China and has some limited person-to-person transmission in other countries including the United States.
Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you are experiencing these symptoms and live in or recently traveled to an area with confirmed cases of COVID-19, call your health provider to discuss getting tested for the virus.
The CDC stresses the importance of using only official guidance to determine risk of COVID-19 to prevent stigma or discrimination in the workplace or in communities. Determinations of risk based on race or country of origin are not legitimate. Also, be sure to protect the confidentiality of people confirmed to have COVID-19.
Prevention in the Workplace
1. Encourage sick employees to stay home
It is important not only to encourage sick employees to stay home, but also to mend any sick leave or absence policies that may stand in the way of employees staying home. Employees should also stay home if they have a family member who is sick.
2. Emphasize respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene
Put up posters of proper cough, sneeze and hand hygiene in areas where they are likely to be seen. Provide tissues, hand soap, hand sanitizer and trash cans in various accessible places around the workplace.
3. Perform routine cleaning
Routinely disinfect and clean areas that are frequently touched such as doorknobs, kitchen appliances and bathroom surfaces. Provide disinfectant wipes that employees can use to wipe down their workspaces frequently. No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended at this time.
4. Advise employees traveling to take preventative steps
Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance when it comes to traveling out of the country. If an employee is displaying signs of an acute respiratory virus before traveling, they should let their supervisor know and stay home.
Planning for Possible Outbreak
1. Identify higher risk employees
Older employees and employees with chronic medical conditions are at higher risk for adverse health complications from COVID-19 and should be informed and worked with to ensure their health and safety.
2. Assess your essential functions
Essential functions of a company should be assessed and a plan should be devised on how to keep these jobs functioning in the case of increased absences. When applicable, employees should be cross-trained to perform critical functions.
3. Share your plans with employees and other businesses
Make sure to let your staff know about the human resource policies, leave flexibilities, pay, and benefits that will be available to them. Additionally, share your outbreak plan with other businesses in your community, especially ones in your supply chain and ones with which you work closely.
Tips for Staying Healthy
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least twenty seconds. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water is not available.
- Frequently disinfect areas that are touched often
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue immediately in the garbage.
- Interim US Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Persons with Potential Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Exposure in Travel-associated or Community Settings
- Health Alert Network
- Travelers’ Health Website
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Small Business International Travel Resource Travel Planner
- OSHA Guidance
- Resources for Airlines
- Resources for Ship Industry