Coronavirus outbreak: CDC offers resources for health care providers, businesses, schools
Washington — Responding to the current outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed guidance for health care providers, businesses and schools in an effort to stem the spread of the potentially deadly respiratory illness in the United States.
The coronavirus reportedly is linked to a large seafood and animal market in Wuhan, China, according to CDC. Symptoms of the illness include fever, cough and shortness of breath. As of Feb. 26, 14 people in the United States had contracted the virus, the agency states.
CDC has engaged in outreach efforts with hospitals and clinics to ensure organizations are prepared to control the virus and prevent infection. As of Feb. 22, the agency had published more than 23 guidance documents on infection control, facility preparedness assessments, personal protective equipment supply planning, and clinical evaluation and management.
Additionally, CDC offers several strategies for employers to help prevent workplace exposure:
- Encourage employees with symptoms of acute respiratory illness to stay home. Waive the requirement of a health care provider’s note to “validate” the illness or a return to work, as “medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.”
- Make sure sick leave policies are flexible and correspond with public health guidance. Ensure employees are aware of the policies.
- Maintain flexible policies that allow employees to stay home to tend to ill family members.
- Promote proper hand hygiene, as well as cough and sneeze etiquette. Instruct employees to frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use a sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces such as workstations, countertops and doorknobs.
Agency guidance for schools includes planning and response protocol for possible outbreaks. On Feb. 25, CDC tweeted that although “there is currently no reported community spread of #COVID19” nationwide, “everyday measures” such as staying home when sick and washing hands with soap and water can help prevent additional cases from surfacing.