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Coronavirus FAQs

What Is COVID-19?

The new coronavirus was first encountered in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.  It is believed that it originated with animals and spread to humans at a live animal market in Wuhan.  In February 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) named it COVID-19.  As of March 2, the outbreak has affected an estimated 87,000 people around the globe, causing over 2,900 deaths.

What are Symptoms?

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), symptoms of COVID-19 can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

How does COVID-19 spread?

Although the ongoing outbreak likely resulted from people who were exposed to infected animals, COVID-19 can spread between people through their respiratory secretions, especially when they cough or sneeze.

According the CDC, the spread of COVID-19 from person-to-person most likely occurs among close contacts who are within about 6 feet of each other. It’s unclear at this time if a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes. 

What should Employers do?

The safety of employees is employers most vital task.  Below is information to share with employees.

  • 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.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

The NSC also urges employers, particularly those in the healthcare sector, those with employees who travel internationally and those in the international travel industry to assess their risk of exposure and ensure procedures are in place to effectively control transmission.  Below are some additional strategies.

  • Practice proper infection control and sterilization measures.
  • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home.
  • If an employee becomes infected, insist that he or she fully recovers before returning to work.
  • Employees who have traveled to areas with heightened levels of exposure should inform their employers immediately.
  • Avoid sending staff on business trips to China, where the virus originated and has yet to be contained.

For more information on preventing COVID-19, go to cdc.govOSHA.gov and who.int.

WEBINAR (March 20th): How Coronavirus Will Impact Companies in the Midwest


Topics: HR / Employee Benefits