By Peter Montoya
Leadership Strategist, Speaker & Author
March 12, 2020
You are aware of the rapidly developing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation across the globe. We as a global community are in a territory where details & recommendations seem to change by each hour.
As business leaders, I believe our number one priority must be to protect our people. Protecting our clients and patrons is our first priority and economic considerations must come in second. To fulfill, we must make decisions. The first step to all human cooperation, decision making and leadership is a common agreement to the facts.
To that end, let me disclose here that I am not an immunologist, a virologist, nor a specialist in infectious diseases. What I have done, in my own effort to establish the facts, is research this pandemic by seeking out the current data put forth by credible sources such as CDC and the WHO. The information shared within this article is accurate – to the best of my knowledge – as of the date and time of publication, but can only truly be characterized as ‘somewhat’ reliable as I am not an expert and, as I stated previously, this information changes by the hour.
The facts…as I understand them…
Speaking now of the statistics related to the United States alone, current estimates are that between 20% and 60% of Americans may contract the virus within the next 18 months, and up to 15% of those may require hospitalization.3
On the low end, fatalities of between .05% and 3.5% are expected. This means that in the United States alone, the mortality rate could be between 66,000,000 and 198,000,000 people. That is more than half of the population.4
Consider, too, that there are currently only about 800,000 hospital beds in the United States (most of which are already full), and it is estimated that the number of Americans requiring hospitalization could be between 3,300,000 and 29,000,000 people. 5, 6
|Coronavirus Infected Range||20.00%||66,000,000
I’ve heard it said ad nauseum that this disease is really only problematic for “older Americans”. First of all, that’s a terrible way to brush off the threat. All lives matter equally, whether you’re 70, 35, or 3 years old, and we have a responsibility to protect all lives. Secondly, even those as young as 20 have ended up on ventilators in recent days.7
The time to wait and watch has passed. As leaders, we must take immediate action. We know we must stem the spread of this virus, and we must do it TODAY to avoid our hospital system being completely overwhelmed. If that happens, doctors will be faced with making decisions about who lives, and who dies – as is already happening in parts of Italy.8
As business leaders, we have a crucial responsibility to mitigate the threat of contagion. Here are 7 steps we must all take, immediately:
1. Everyone who can telecommute, does.
This is critical. If there is any possible way for an employee to perform at least the bulk of their work from home, find a way for them to do that. Send them home. Starting NOW.
2. Increase social distance for all workers.
Immediately implement measures distancing workers by at least 3’ and preferably 6’. No more hugging, no handshakes… I wouldn’t even risk a fist-bump. No social contact of any kind.
3. Anyone feeling (or showing signs of being) unwell stays home.
Whether it’s a sniffle, cough, lethargy, or fever, you do not come in to work. Period. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s ‘seasonal allergies’ – the self-diagnoses could be wrong, and a sniffle or cough could cause fear and panic among workers.
4. Everyone’s temperature is taken daily.
This may sound draconian, but it makes good sense and can provide a level of comfort and assurance among team members. Encourage workers to take their own temperature before departing for work each morning.
Additionally, purchase a no-contact (forehead) thermometer and assign someone to take all temperatures as team members arrive. Anyone with a slightly elevated temperature does not come in.
5. Suspend all business travel.
Yes, this could result in lost business. It’s worth it. All non-essential travel should be immediately discontinued.
6. If you’re dealing with the public, wear gloves.
Whether you’re in food service, retail, hospitality, or otherwise.
7. Move all group meetings online.
Any meeting involving three or more people should be done by phone or video conference, effective immediately. (Yes, folks, we’re finally going to find out how many of those meetings really could have been ‘just an email’.)
These drastic measures are necessary
These measures may seem drastic or paranoid, but given the circumstances I believe that they are absolutely necessary and pragmatic. China has seen major improvement in the number of new cases due to radical steps they have taken.
The United States government likely does not have the same authority to enact the measures China has, so it’s up to us – as leaders – to keep our people safe. The responsibility falls to us, and I sincerely believe the more who follow these guidelines, the less devastating the impact of COVID-19 will be.9
2 – https://www.who.int/
3 – https://baptisthealth.net/en/lp/pages/coronavirus.aspx
4 – https://www.sciencealert.com/the-new-coronavirus-isn-t-like-the-flu-but-they-have-one-big-thing-in-common
5 – https://www.aha.org/statistics/fast-facts-us-hospitals
6 – https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/10/simple-math-alarming-answers-covid-19/
7 – https://www.itv.com/news/2020-03-11/italy-doctors-coronavirus-covid-19-quarantine-milan-health/
8 – https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/who-gets-hospital-bed/607807/
9 – https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/china-s-aggressive-measures-have-slowed-coronavirus-they-may-not-work-other-countries
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