It’s nearly impossible to tune into the news these days without hearing a mention of coronavirus. Also known as COVID-19, this disease outbreak is wreaking havoc across the globe. You might be wondering what you most need to know about the outbreak as a small business owner.
This article will get you quickly up to speed on COVID-19. Learn what it is; how it’s transmitted. Read about the ways the virus could impact your business–and where to go for timely and reliable information.
What is coronavirus (COVID-19) and how is it transmitted?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak began in China in 2019. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that occur in humans and animals alike. The current strain, however, hasn’t been seen before. There is no current vaccine available, and as it’s a virus, antibiotics aren’t effective in treating someone infected with COVID-19. Current antiviral drugs, like those used to manage the flu, are ineffective against COVID-19.
Experts estimate that COVID-19, like the flu, is transmitted by person-to-person contact. The two most common methods of contact are close contact (people within six feet of one another) and through respiratory droplets in the air from sneezing or coughing.
How could coronavirus impact my business?
COVID-19 could impact businesses from two directions: from outside and within.
Outside factors that could affect your daily business operations include:
- Supply chain: Businesses that rely on overseas manufacturing or component sourcing could experience significant delays that impact fulfillment timelines.
- Foot traffic: If an outbreak occurs in your city, brick and mortar businesses could see a significant slow in foot traffic, impacting revenue.
The virus could also impact factors within your company, including:
- Remote work needs: If an outbreak happens locally or within your company, you might need to shift operations so that employees work remotely to prevent the likelihood of disease transmission.
- Revenue decline: Revenue disruptions from supply chain issues or local outbreaks could impact cash flow, which could impact payroll and create challenges maintaining headcount.
While the above impacts might not have been on your list of goals for 2020, awareness puts you one step ahead. You can be proactive instead of reactive.
What can my business do to protect its customers and employees?
One of the most critical actions that businesses can take at present is to establish a stringent hygiene policy companywide. The tips outlined below might seem like common sense; however, in a fast-paced business world where staffing is sometimes lean to keep costs down, these measures often fall by the wayside.
Here are the most important actions the CDC currently recommends that businesses take:
- Sick policy: Employees who are sick should stay home to reduce the risk of disease transmission. Sick employees should not return to work until they’ve been fever-free for at least 24 hours.
- Enforce hygiene etiquette: Employees should wash their hands with soap and water (hot or cold). Hand sanitizer should also be made available, though it is currently in short supply. Make employees aware of cough and sneeze etiquette.
- Cancel non-essential business travel: Shift to video meetings and remote collaboration methods to avoid exposing employees to potentially infected travelers.
- Enact environmental cleaning: For SMBs with physical work locations, work with your janitorial service or those assigned to cleaning duties to implement additional sanitation procedures.
Think of ways that your business can play an active role in preventing the transmission of COVID-19. Maintaining a clean workplace and enforcing sick policies can go a long way to protecting your workforce and customers.
Where can I find accurate and timely updates?
Now, you’ll want to keep up-to-date on news about the virus as it comes available. Here’s what you can do to continue informing yourself and staying in-tune with the news.
Where can you turn for trusted information?
First, bookmark the CDC COVID-19 website. This site is a regularly-updated destination for scientifically-verified information on the outbreak and current concerns.
Next, have a look at the World Health Organization’s “mythbusters” page on the outbreak. The information here counters several dubious myths floating around about the virus and can help save you some needless panicking.
Finally, always consider the source of information. Misinformation about the disease is already rampant. The two sites above will have the most up-to-date and accurate information from medical and scientific experts. Your business is hard enough to run each day. You deserve reliable information to help guide you through adverse situations like the current coronavirus.