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COVID-19: Public Health Tenets, Best Defense

Posted By Louise Probst, Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, March 4, 2020

“SARS-CoV-2” is the virus that has claimed much of your team’s workday and that has been at the center of the world stage over the past several weeks. It is better known as coronavirus disease 2019 or “COVID-19” and is a new strain in a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to pneumonia, and in severe cases, serious respiratory and kidney conditions that may lead to death.

 

Spread through sneezes, coughs, and contaminated surfaces, symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms can take between two to fourteen days to appear, suggesting that people may pass on the virus even before they aware that they are sick. Milder cases may resemble the flu or a bad cold.

 

While we learn more each day about the virus, how the outbreak will affect our lives is far from clear. This uncertainty creates stress and can make employees less capable of coping. Yet, all of us have effective tools to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. 

 

One of employers’ many roles is to help employees understand that frequent handwashing and other public health essentials are their best defense from COVID-19’s potential harms. Since mucous membranes are the passage ways of viruses into the body, avoiding the habit of touching the face (including eyes, nose, and mouth) without clean hands is critical. As a reminder, it is okay to warmly decline a handshake, as this may further protect people.

 

Another important employer responsibility is to develop and communicate benefit policies and business continuation plans should large numbers of employees become ill or public health officials call for social distancing. The CDC’s guidance to businesses and the public is a very good resource and can be found at this landing page.

 

At times like these, it is important to remain connected, learn together, and support one another. This is what builds resilience. One BHC member reported that they were considering waiving certain copays related to testing for the virus. Local health care providers have indicated that it would be very helpful for patients thinking that they may have the disease to consult with their primary care provider first and phone the facility ahead of time, so the team can be appropriately prepared and meet them at the door. Please share your learnings and interventions with BHC so we can pass them on. Stay tuned for an upcoming webinar featuring SSM Health's Chief Medical Officer and public health expert, Dr. Alexander Garza, and most importantly, stay healthy.

 

Warm regards,

 

Louise Y. Probst

BHC Executive Director

 

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