Planning for the impact of a pandemic on your employees and community should start now. In the event of pandemic influenza, municipalities play an important role in protecting their employees’ health and safety, as well as limiting the negative impact to society. Planning is critical. Plan for employee absences during a pandemic due to factors such as a personal illness, family members’ illness, community containment measures and quarantines, school and/or business closures, and public transportation closures.
✓ Encourage sick employees to stay home.
✓ Remind everyone of appropriate cough and sneeze etiquette and the importance of proper hand washing (minimum of 20 seconds).
✓ Provide sufficient and accessible infection control supplies (e.g., hand -hygiene products, tissues, receptacles for disposal) at convenient locations
✓ If an employee is quarantined due to personal travel or exposure or to care for a family member, review considerations with HR or legal counsel regarding whether the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies.
✓ Review with HR any unique policies for employee compensation for sick leave absences for a pandemic (ex. no consequences, liberal leave) including policies on when a previously ill person is no longer infectious and can return to work. Review need for policies on flexible work hours / staggered shifts.
✓ Establish policies for preventing influenza spread at work – promoting respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette and consider prompt exclusion of people with influenza symptoms.
✓ Establish policies for employees who have been exposed to pandemic influenza, are suspected to be ill or become ill at work, (ex. immediate mandatory sick leave)
✓ Potential discrimination issues can arise if COVID-19 related restrictions target individuals based on fear and not fact. There should be no different quarantine measures taken on people because they are of any particular ethnic background.
BEFORE A COVID-19 Outbreak occurs in your community: PLAN – This could last for a long time. Depending on the severity of the outbreak, public health officials may recommend local government actions to limit exposure to the virus. You as local officials or the Center for Disease Control & Prevention may decide to postpone or cancel large events for the safety of staff and the community.
If you are aware of an outbreak, your response and communication to the public is crucial. Selecting the appropriate person and deliverance of the message to the public can make a difference. NYMIR provides CRISIS RISK Management Services for emergencies – 1-866-502-6386
Plan ahead on how you will continue to provide pertinent services to your residents.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention released the following:
Recommended Precautions for Preventing Spread of COVID-19 in election Polling Locations, including Cleaning & Disinfection
Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Communities
Interim Guidance: Get Your Mass Gatherings or Large Community Events Ready for Coronavirus Disease