Over the last few work days, we've gotten a number of calls from members reporting that at least one staff member has contracted COVID-19. I spoke on Friday with the principal of a five-person agency who (test results pending) suspected as many as four people had the virus. Our office coordinator has reported a lot of calls coming in. Jim Lombardo, our education czar, has been on the phone with a member about this already this morning.
Folks, if this didn't feel real to you before, it should now.
That's why I strongly recommend that you all review
this blog post from Affinity HR Group about what to do when an employee tests positive. There's a lot of good advice here, but this part about when a COVID-positive employee has worked in the office recently is particularly relevant:
Notify other employees as soon as you know of a possibility of exposure; do not wait for a confirmed test result, which may never come. Inform employees, especially those who had regular and sustained contact.
Advise employees of where the sick employee was and on what date so they can determine their risk of exposure and, if necessary, self-quarantine for 14 days to see if they exhibit symptoms.
There is also good advice about cleaning and cordoning off areas where the infected employee was known to work.
In addition, there is this from the New York State government:
An individual who screens positive for COVID-19 symptoms must not be allowed to enter the office and must be sent home with instructions to contact their healthcare provider for assessment and testing.
Immediately notify state and local health departments of confirmed positive cases.
Check the website of your county's health department for contact information.
The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has a thorough Frequently Asked Questions page for employers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases among their staffs. Much of it echoes what is in the other resources I've mentioned, but there is detailed information about cleaning protocols.
The infection rates are climbing in New York and elsewhere. The most recent report from the governor's office is that 47 out of every 1,000 people tested were positive; four weeks ago, that number was 29 out of every 1,000. That's a 62% increase in less than a month. This is a very dangerous time for our world, our country, our state, our businesses, and our people. My colleagues at Big I New York and I cannot urge you strongly enough to take this threat seriously and to do whatever is necessary for you to avoid or contain it.
Stay safe everyone.