As we all navigate through this uncertain time, concern over COVID-19 within the United States continues to grow. The health and safety of our families, coworkers, and staff continue to be the top priority. Not only has this illness affected the health of many, but it also has far-reaching economic implications. Restaurants, retail operations, and others in the service industry have been hit particularly hard, and our hearts go out to all the families affected.
As a business, how do you continue to provide the best service possible, while making sure your staff and clients are safe? During this pandemic and beyond, it's important to offer consistent leadership, practice everyday prevention, and utilize services like telehealth to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. Here we'll outline best practices for prevention, what steps to take if you begin to feel sick, and where to find up-to-date information for COVID-19.
Continue to Provide Leadership
If you don't take care of your employees, you can't serve your customers. People are looking for reassurance because this situation has caused global anxiety and stress. Consistent leadership can help ease fears and keep your business on track. As an employer, there are things you can do to mitigate risks and panic.
- Implement a work-from-home policy when possible.
- Keep staff updated on company status, so they feel connected.
- Offer online wellness programs to help employees handle stress.
- Eliminate all non-essential business travel.
- Please communicate with your customers and keep them informed.
Honest communication is vital during this time. Keeping staff and clients informed goes a long way to assuage fears and inspire confidence that we will all get through this together.
Practice Everyday Prevention
COVID-19 can spread person-to-person and through contaminated surfaces. Throughout the day, you can accumulate this virus and can infect yourself by touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Although there is currently no vaccine available, the CDC and WHO have released precautions to avoid contracting the virus:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces you often touch and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Stay home from work, school, and public areas if you're sick. Avoid sharing dishes, glasses, bedding, and other household items if you're sick.
Seek Virtual Care When Possible
Covid-19 often results in particularly severe symptoms for seniors and those with preexisting health conditions like heart or lung disease. With all the media coverage for the coronavirus, it's easy to panic if you start experiencing symptoms. The tendency for some is to go to the E.R. immediately. If you don't have COVID-19, this can do more harm than good. You could expose yourself to the virus you were trying to avoid. Masses of sick people congregating in emergency rooms and doctors' offices could help perpetuate the disease and overwhelm medical providers.
In an unprecedented move, Medicare has expanded to include telehealth services for seniors. The government felt it was essential to prevent healthy and sick Americans alike from visiting doctor's offices in person and risk spreading or catching the novel coronavirus.
Emergency Rooms and healthcare professionals are already overwhelmed. If you have access to telehealth, use virtual care before rushing to the doctor's office and exposing yourself and essential healthcare personnel to the virus.
Symptoms and Next Steps if you are Sick
If you begin to feel the symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, fatigue, dry cough, and shortness of breath), there are IMPORTANT steps to follow to assist medical professionals in getting you healthy and keeping the virus away from others. Follow the CDC's crucial steps if you're feeling ill:
- Call ahead before visiting your doctor
- Healthcare2U DPC members: For our members, please call Healthcare2U's patient navigation center at 1 (800) 496-2805 if you begin feeling any symptoms. The first course of action is a virtual visit with a licensed medical professional to diagnose your conditions before going to a physician's office or urgent care facility. This vital step will protect our crucial healthcare providers and not make them susceptible to the virus.
- 9-1-1 if you have a medical emergency: According to the CDC, if you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have, or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before emergency medical services arrive.
- Wear a facemask if you are sick
- Cover your cough and sneezes
- Clean your hands often
- Avoid sharing personal household items
- Clean all "high-touch" surfaces every day
- Monitor your symptoms
For more information on symptoms and available options for testing, please view the CDC's website found here, or contact your local county health department.