2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Recommendations:
For up to date information on COVID-19 visit health.mesacounty.us
Latest Update March 26, 2020
Effective Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 6 a.m., Colorado is officially under a stay at home order. Information and guidance will be updated as information is available. For the full order click here.
March 20, 2020
What is Novel Coronavirus?
A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include; fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The incubation period ranges from 2-14 days. There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person; between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
General Guidance during COVID-19
- Make sure that your practice has appropriate COVID-19 screening protocols in place and that your infection control and OSHA practices are up to date.
- Consider implementing a virtual waiting room in your practice to better maintain social distancing.
- Distance patients and staff by at least six feet, if possible.
- Consider extending hours to reduce crowds.
- Encourage hand washing and increased hygiene practices while in your facility by displaying signs at the entrance and in strategic places (doors, waiting areas) to provide patients and staff with instructions for hygiene practices (in appropriate languages). See an example here and here.
- Enforce regular facility cleaning, consider deep cleaning when possible.
- Provide supplies for respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, including alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) with 60-95% alcohol, tissues, and no-touch receptacles for disposal, at healthcare facility entrances, waiting rooms, and patient check-ins.
Patient Interaction Considerations
- Install physical barriers (e.g., glass or plastic windows) at reception areas to limit close contact between triage personnel and patients.
- When scheduling appointments for routine medical care (e.g., annual physical, elective surgery), instruct patients to call ahead and discuss the need to reschedule their appointment if they develop symptoms of a respiratory infection (e.g., cough, sore throat, fever) on the day they are scheduled to be seen.
- Explore alternatives to face-to-face visits.
- Cancel group healthcare activities (e.g., group therapy, recreational activities).
- Consider postponing elective procedures, surgeries, and non-urgent visits.
For Business Continuity
Outbreaks like COVID-19 can have moderate to severe impacts on businesses and organizations that are unprepared to take steps to prevent and respond to the spread of illness in the workplace. Some of the steps you can take are:
- Prepare a clear communication plan for continuity impacts.
- Staff notifications and alerts- especially during sudden impact events when notifications cannot be made (disabled cellular towers).
- What effect can you expect from COVID-19 in our community?
- Changes to commerce patterns impacted by international events
- Changes in the supply chain and delivery schedules
- Need for social distancing impacting worker anxiety and stigma associated with ill employees
- Develop flexible leave policies for use during outbreaks like COVID19.
- Allow for additional sick time for those with COVID-like illness (fever, cough, respiratory illness). Flexible policies should also allow time to take care of sick family members.
- Waive the “sick-note” policy to return to work. This places an unnecessary burden on the healthcare system.
- Remember: hourly employees may need added incentive to remain at home if sick.
- Emphasize common-sense practices like covering coughs and sneezes and washing hands often.
- Increase workplace cleaning: high-touch surfaces (doorknobs, phones, keyboards, etc.) and public areas (restrooms, waiting rooms, breakrooms).
- Discontinue unnecessary, out-of-office/travel until the risk has passed. Ensure your staff is aware of the locations of high risk prior to breaks and vacations.
- Separate out sick employees and encourage them to remain at home until they are symptom-free for at least 24hrs.
- Prepare for possible increased numbers of employee absences due to illness in employees and their family members.
- Identify staff that are cross-trained to cover for ill employees.
- Monitor employee absenteeism and conduct a business process review to identify staff that are mission essential. Reduce the workload of non-mission essential functions and reassign them to critical functions.
- Allow for telework when possible to ensure an adequate number of mission-essential employees are available.
- Resources may be in short supply due to supply chain impacts and travel guidelines.
- Keep a two week supply of essential cleaning supplies and stock up on mission-critical materials to minimize the burden of frequent reordering.
- Encourage staff and their families to have a personal preparedness plan for things like medications, baby formula, pets supplies, and notification during emergencies (especially if you are a healthcare worker or first responder).
If you are a supervisor or manager, the minimum information you would need written down in case you are unable to perform your duties:
- Impacts if this service is not performed are…
- Other locations or hours this service could be performed if staffing could not be maintained at current levels are...
- The recovery time objective (maximum amount of time service could be unavailable) is…
- The partners that rely on me/this service are...
- The minimum staff and resources that must be available to continue operations are…
- If I am unavailable in an emergency, the secondary point of contact, and how to contact them is…
Obtain Accurate Information
In rapidly changing health events and outbreaks such as COVID-19, there can be large amounts of incorrect or partially correct information that can add to stress and confusion. Providing current, accurate, and frequent updates can help reduce stress and fear.
Get the most up-to-date and accurate information at:
Adapted from: Centers for Disease Control, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment