The coronavirus situation is swiftly evolving in Oregon, the nation, and worldwide. This week Gov. Kate Brown issued statewide orders aimed to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As employers and business leaders, our first priority is keeping Oregonians healthy and safe. The virus has been devastating to the national economy and Oregon will feel the impacts. OBI will work with state leaders and partners on an effort to lift up the Oregon businesses that are feeling the impacts, especially our small businesses.
Among Gov. Brown’s rules were limiting gatherings of more than 250 people and in the workplace, using “distancing measures” by increasing physical distance between workers, limiting in-person meetings, limiting travel and staggering work schedules.
Seeing the importance of the issue to the Oregon business community, OBI hosted a briefing last week where experts spoke directly to our members and partners to provide them with the most important and up-to-date information critical to employers. OBI recorded the call and you can hear it by clicking here.
Thank you to our partners at Oregon Health & Science University, the Governor’s Office, the Bureau of Labor and Industries and the Oregon Employment Department for being our people in-the-know on that call.
Toward the end of the call, one of the speakers made a good point: As business leaders, we have to be the ones to step up and do as much as possible to keep our people safe. Whether that’s encouraging employees to go home when they’re sick, allowing some to work from home (if our business is capable of that), or just keeping the office, factory or store a little cleaner so employees feel safe.
Dr. Danny Jacobs, president of OHSU, and his physician colleagues, stressed that the basics we all know are the most important:
- Wash your hands. A lot. And try not to touch your face.
- Cover your cough.
- Keep a distance of about six feet from others whenever possible.
- If you are sick, stay home. And tell your sick employees to stay home.
- If you feel sick and have concerns about COVID19, call your regular physician. Avoid emergency rooms so that you don’t unnecessarily infect others.
- Stay up-to-date about the virus, and follow the advice of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which has the most current information about the virus.
A lot of companies are re-evaluating travel policies and large meetings and gatherings. My own company has asked that we eliminate non-essential travel. Every business has to evaluate how to manage this crisis, based on their customer and employee needs. But make sure you check the CDC website regularly to stay up to date to protect yourself, your employees and those close to you from this virus.
It’s also important, as employers, to know the laws around employee sick time. We appreciated having representatives of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries on the call to give us an overview of our state’s regulations. It’s important to understand how the unique circumstances in your business are impacted, so check in with the BOLI hotline (971-673-0824) for answers to your specific questions.
To stay up to date on the evolving coronavirus situation, make sure to check the Oregon Health Authority’s website dedicated to COVID-19 in Oregon, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for a national view. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also has this handy flier. Looking for more advice? The CDC has a webpage specifically outlining what businesses can do to prepare for coronavirus.
Whatever your strategy, it’s our role as leaders to show our employees their jobs are secure, and we care about their health. By setting the example and having a plan, we can help mitigate the impact coronavirus has in Oregon.