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    COVID-19: 7 Practical Steps Every Small Business Leader Should Enact NOW

    No doubt you are aware of the rapidly developing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation unfolding across the globe. We – as a global community – are in largely uncharted territory, and the details and recommendations seem to change by the hour.

    As business leaders, our top priority must be to protect our people. Protecting our teams, clients, and patrons is our first priority, and economic considerations must come in second. In order to fulfill these priorities, we must make sound 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 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)1 and the World Health Organization (WHO)2. 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 currently understand them…

    Speaking of the statistics related to the United States alone, it is now estimated that between 160,000,000 and 214,000,000 Americans may contract the virus – potentially more than half the population.3

    Fatalities could range from 200,000 to 1,700,000 in the United States alone. Consider, too, that there are currently only about 925,000 staffed hospital beds in the country (most of which are already full), and it is estimated that the number of Americans requiring hospitalization could reach 21 million people. 3, 4
     

    I’ve heard it said ad nauseam 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.5

    As leaders, we must take immediate action. The time to wait and watch has passed.  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.6

    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-diagnosis 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 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.7
     

    Peter Montoya is the best-selling author of “The Brand Called You” and his latest book, “Leadership Power”. He’s also a sought-after, highly motivational keynote speaker and leadership development strategist, specializing in cultivating high-performance teams. Peter is available for interviews by visiting www.PeterMontoya.com, or calling (949) 334-7070.

     

    SOURCES:
    1- https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
    2 - https://www.who.int/
    3 - https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/13/us/coronavirus-deaths-estimate.html
    4 - https://www.aha.org/statistics/fast-facts-us-hospitals
    5 - https://www.itv.com/news/2020-03-11/italy-doctors-coronavirus-covid-19-quarantine-milan-health/
    6 - https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/who-gets-hospital-bed/607807/
    7 - https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/china-s-aggressive-measures-have-slowed-coronavirus-they-may-not-work-other-countries

     

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