As expected, the first cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed yesterday in Fulton County, GA. For most of us, this should not be a surprise and should have been expected. With Atlanta Hartsfield located here, it was only a matter of time. In the coming days we will be seeing more cases in Georgia being diagnosed, as well as the other cases that go below the level of the health care radar. Those cases either are asymptomatic or the signs and symptoms are just not that severe to warrant additional health care. As the WHO chief warns, ‘we are in uncharted territory’ as number of coronavirus cases worldwide passes 90,000
Going forward, certain questions will arise. The following list of articles and resources are to help one navigate how best to respond should someone in your home or office be diagnosed with the virus or you have contact with someone later diagnosed with the disease.
Beth Melnik in our State Office forwarded this article from McKinsey and Company, dated 1 March: COVID-19: Implications for business
Here are a couple of additional articles/sites that may be helpful:
The Georgia Department of Public Health: COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)
From Yahoo Finance 1 March: ‘Walking a very thin line’: Why coronavirus could hit small businesses the hardest
If someone in your office/business begins to show signs or symptoms of the flu/COVID-19, and where in the past, they might have come to work, how do you want to guide them now?
The CDC has some great information on this type of question: First, Call your healthcare professional if you develop symptoms, have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 and/or if you have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19. They may recommend you self-isolate for 14 days to observe for signs and symptoms of the virus. Your best service to your business, your organization, your friends and family, is to not go to work if you believe you are starting to show signs and symptoms of the flu/COVID-19. This is not a time to ‘push through’ feeling bad. Take time off to help those you care about, to help your community, limit the spread of this disease.
To help prevent the spread of the virus in your business, consider these additional steps recommended by the CDC: Interim Guidance for Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Homes and Residential Communities Essentially, you want to:
1. Stay home except to get medical care
2. Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
3. Animals: You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people.
4. Call ahead before visiting your doctor
5. Wear a face-mask
a. You should wear a face-mask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) or pets and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.
6. Cover your coughs and sneezes
7. Clean your hands often
a. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
8. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
9. Avoid sharing personal household items
a. You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home.
10. Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday
11. Monitor your symptoms
a. Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening (e.g., difficulty breathing). Before seeking care, call your healthcare provider and tell them that you have, or are being evaluated for, COVID-19. Put on a face-mask before you enter the facility. Ask your healthcare provider to call the local or state health department. Persons who are placed under active monitoring or facilitated self-monitoring should follow instructions provided by their local health department or occupational health professionals, as appropriate.
12. 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 face-mask before emergency medical services arrive.
13. Discontinuing home isolation
a. Patients with confirmed COVID-19 should remain under home isolation precautions until the risk of secondary transmission to others is thought to be low. The decision to discontinue home isolation precautions should be made on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments.
14. (Recommendation from a secondary source) If you are running a fever, one guideline to use before even considering returning to work is to wait until your fever is below 100.4 for at least 24 hours. Still, if diagnosed (or it is suspected) with COVID-19, consult with your health provider and your local health department prior to returning to work.
By Mark R. Lupo, MBCP, SMP