Businesses urged to have a pandemic virus plan to minimize person-to-person contact

Businesses urged to have pandemic virus plan to minimize person-to-person contact

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -Vice President Mike Pence held his first meeting as head of the coronavirus task force. He says the full resources of the Federal Government are being used.

This comes amid reports of the first possible person-to-person spread of the virus within a U.S. community. A person in northern California who hasn't traveled internationally or had close contact with a known patient.

California health officials say the patient was not tested for coronavirus for several days, while hospitalized, because he or she didn't fit federal criteria.

When trying to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, Louisiana health officials say it's very effective to simply have sick people stay home.

Dr. Frank Welch is the medical director over Community Preparedness and Health Protection within the State Health Department.

"There's lots of ways to protect and one of them could be just having people stay home if they're sick. When we get to the point, if there is community wide transmission in different areas of Louisiana, a simple recommendation, is to have people stay home," said Welch.

Yet, people who don't have paid sick days often come to work anyway because they need the money and in some cases don't want to anger their bosses. Welch says they have and will work with employers to develop plans to minimize person-to-person contact.

“There are some places of employment where you must show up in order to get paid, but also for that place to function. You can imagine that you can limit, if you said a fast food restaurant, you can limit interaction between people by, for example, only having the drive through open. We are going to work with the business community to do what we call ‘continuity of operations’ to plan for the worst-case scenario, even though that may not happen,” he said.

Obviously, food service workers cannot work from home while sick. But some people can. The Center for Disease Control and Welch urge businesses and their human resources departments to develop plans for working at home for employees who can.

"I would have them review the pandemic influence guidance for businesses. It goes through all kinds of guidance and tips about teleworking, about shifting hours, not hand shaking during meetings, not having large meetings, having meetings by video conference, having employees work from home," he said.

And he says there's extensive information about how to do that.

While many people ask about face masks, Welch says it's often the opposite of what people think.

"If you wear a face mask, that really prevents you from spreading disease to others. It doesn't necessarily prevent you from getting it," said Welch.

He reiterates, cover your cough or sneeze, wash your hands and stay away if sick.

Check the CDC for and Louisiana Health Department for tips for businesses and individuals developing plans to combat the spread of illness.

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