Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – a federal agency that is the leading national public health institute of the United States – is providing interim guidance for businesses and employers on how to plan, prepare, and respond to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The guidance is available here.
“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in humans and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people, such as with MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV,” according to the CDC guidance.
The interim guidance may help prevent workplace exposure to acute respiratory illnesses in non-healthcare settings that include COVID-19. The guidance also provides planning considerations if there are more widespread and community outbreaks of the coronavirus disease.
In the short term, the CDC recommends strategies for employers to use for COVID-19 that include actively encouraging sick employees to stay home, separating sick employees, emphasizing respiratory etiquette and clean hands hygiene by all employees, and performing routine environmental cleaning.
Employees should check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which they will travel. Specific travel information for travelers going to and returning from China, and information for aircrew, can be found on the CDC website.
The long-term strategy the CDC recommends includes establishing an infectious disease outbreak response plan, readying a company’s infrastructure for remote workers, addressing the impact of supply chain interruptions, and preparing for absenteeism in the workplace.
Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19, or who have been exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19, should notify their supervisor and refer to the CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, the CDC reminds employers that they should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but still maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The CDC – one of the major operating components of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – will update this interim guidance as needed and as additional information becomes available. Updates about the coronavirus will be available on the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/.
On March 9, 2020, President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force attended a press briefing to discuss the COVID-19 outbreak. Vice President Pence stated that more guidance would be provided to businesses about the coronavirus.
“At the President’s direction, we’re going to be providing guidance about how to keep your home safe, how to keep your business safe, how to keep safe and healthy at your school. And we’ll be publishing that information and speaking about that,” he stated at the press briefing.
In related news, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – a U.S. government agency that protects and educates consumers – is warning the public about scams involving the coronavirus that seek to take advantage of fears surrounding the worldwide outbreak of the disease.
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