As confirmed cases of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) in the U.S. rise, so too have warnings issued to the general public about preparing for social and business disruptions.
What actions can you take now to protect your firm’s attorneys, staff and clients against the virus?
Below are five S’s you can quickly employ, based upon the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest recommendations, in order to safeguard your practice.
- Stay home while sick.
The CDC provides that a person with acute respiratory illness shouldn’t come into the office if he or she has a fever of 100.4° F [37.8° C] or higher, signs of a fever and any other symptoms of COVID-19 for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines.
Consult how to conduct a risk assessment for more information on evaluating and managing risk of potential exposure to COVID-19.
- Separate those who exhibit symptoms.
If you or anyone else in your practice becomes aware of someone exhibiting coronavirus-like symptoms, then the CDC advises quarantining that individual until he or she is able to return home.
- Synchronize your firm’s policies with public health guidance.
With this outbreak, you should ensure that sick employees are aware of your sick leave and other human resource policies and won’t be discouraged from taking extra precautions to keep those they come into contact with safe. This not only means maintaining policies that are consistent with public health guidance, but also being more flexible due to the circumstances.
- Stress good hygiene.
Cleaning, staying at home while sick, covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing and washing your hands on a regular basis are important to do even without a looming coronavirus threat. However, you can make it easier for your employees and clients to practice good hygiene by:
- putting up hygiene etiquette posters around your firm;
- placing tissues, disposable wipes, waste baskets and alcohol-based hand sanitizer around the workplace; and
- encouraging or performing routine cleaning of frequently-touched surfaces.
- Skip unnecessary travel.
Consider limiting travel for your workforce at this time if the same results can be achieved by phone or email.
In circumstances where travel can’t be avoided, reiterate to your employees that they should stay home if they feel sick prior to a trip. After travelling, stress the importance of notifying the firm immediately if an employee feels they display any symptoms of COVID-19 and advise them to consult a health care professional if further advice is needed.
Refer to the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations by country concerning travel.
Currently, information with respect to how the virus causing COVID-19 spreads and the extent to which it will impact the U.S. is largely unknown. What is clear, however, is that new confirmed cases arise each day and top officials, agencies and news outlets in the country consider this outbreak serious and imminent.
As the CDC states, everyone has a role to play in getting ready and staying healthy when it comes to the coronavirus. Is your firm ready?
Stay informed about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by routinely checking the CDC’s site.