As you are likely aware, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified COVID-19 as a pandemic earlier this week. According to the CDC “A pandemic is a global outbreak of disease. Pandemics happen when a new virus emerges to infect people and can spread between people sustainably. Because there is little to no pre-existing immunity against the new virus, it spreads worldwide.”
The spread is at different stages across the US, so the approach in each community varies. On the whole, the overarching goal is to slow the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing (such as canceling large events and closing schools) and practicing good hygiene. We have received many reports of school closures yesterday and today and remain committed to flexibility in accommodating needs to care for children. Please work directly with your supervisor to discuss your options.
COVID-19 Preparedness – Your Action Required
A survey will go out shortly to collect information from you regarding your ability to work from home and making sure we have updated contact information for everyone. Please complete the survey as soon as possible as the information you provide helps us make the necessary arrangements to support working from home where it is required.
What should I do if I think I’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and/or I have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath?
Notify your supervisor and do not come into the office.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, the current CDC and Department of Health guidance is to call your medical provider for triage so that they can receive you with appropriate precautions in place if you do need to come into the office. Most people will be asked to stay home unless their symptoms worsen and require medical attention.
Will my insurance company cover testing for COVID-19?
Our insurance carrier, Anthem Blue Cross of CA, sent a message out to all employees recently that all costs associated with testing for COVID-19 will be covered without co-pay or deductible. With that said, available tests are limited right now and are being reserved for individuals who are showing symptoms and who are high-risk. If you do not have symptoms, it’s highly unlikely you will be tested.
What are the risks associated with COVID-19?
From the CDC:
The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is not fully known. Reported illnesses have ranged from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms) to severe, including illness resulting in death. While information so far suggests that most COVID-19 illness is mild, a report out of China suggests serious illness occurs in 16% of cases. Older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions — like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, for example — seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.
How should we handle sick patients?
Patients and/or caregivers should be asked upon check-in whether they have traveled outside of the country within the last 14 days or have any recent fever or respiratory concerns? If yes, immediately convert the appointment to telemedicine or reschedule to a future date.
Scripts for triaging patients and re-directing them, if needed, were distributed earlier this week (see attached).
Our website was updated this morning with a notice to patients to convert to telemedicine if they have concerns around COVID-19.
Make sure that the “Cover Your Cough” sign is posted and tissue and hand sanitizer are available in the waiting room
How should we handle sick employees?
Supervisors have been advised to be very flexible with the attendance policy, both in relation to employees who are sick, have a sick family member, or have school or daycare closures.
Sick employees should stay home until they are fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines. Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
If you have a cough or are sneezing, you should cover your nose and mouth with a tissue (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.
No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended at this time.
What if I have plans to travel out of the country?
Please inform your supervisor and Human Resources if you intend to travel to a country under travel advisory by the CDC so that we can plan appropriately for your return by following guidance from the CDC.
If you are feeling stressed or anxious about COVID-19 and need someone to talk to, please contact our EAP provider Halcyon at 888-425-4800 or access them online at http://halcyoneap.com/ with the user name: cpsych. They offer this tip sheet on Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks.
Additional Links to CDC Information
CDC Situation Summary (updated frequently)