This morning Rashad Young, DC’s City Administrator, hosted a meeting for the Federal City Council and other members of the Business Coordinating Group (BCG) to provide a special briefing on the coronavirus, DC’s preparation and what local businesses can do to prepare. DC Health and the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) are the point agencies for the coronavirus response and are available to answer questions that you or other employers may have. We will be maintaining close contact with the DC government as things change and evolve.
The DC region has no confirmed cases of coronavirus and the risk to the District remains low. The DC government is building up its response operations and capacity in the event that there is a confirmed case. The World Bank and IMF Spring meetings have been canceled, but otherwise major events in the District are still on, including the Cherry Blossom Festival.
The moment there is a confirmed case in the District, the individual will be placed under a forced quarantine. The DC government will kick into gear—figuring out who that person has come into contact with in the previous two weeks and how they contracted the virus. They will be in touch with any businesses or employers should a patron or employee test positive.
Government officials are in constant contact with local health care facilities, helping them plan for how to handle a surge in patients. DC health has received approval from the CDC to do their own testing for coronavirus and have the tools to do so. An emergency operations center has already been activated. Should the coronavirus reach pandemic levels locally, the DC government has an action plan for how to handle it.
The best thing everyone can do right now is ramp up sickness prevention practices. Wash your hands regularly, which is just as effective as using hand sanitizer. Avoid physical contact with others like shaking hands. If you feel sick, don’t come to work or go out.
For the business community, DC Health and the business-wing of HSEMA have put together toolkits and informational resources at coronavirus.dc.gov that can be used for guidance. The site also has informational flyers that can be printed out and posted in offices, lobbies, front doors or in restrooms. If the informational resources do not fit your needs, they encourage you to contact them (dc.bemoc@DC.gov) and they will create a flyer for you.
They advise that businesses put together a continuity plan in the event of a coronavirus pandemic or any other emergency. How can you keep your business operations going even if most of your employees are working from home? Do you have a contingency plan if you need to shut down operations for a few days or weeks? To access a toolkit and resources for developing a business plan in the event of a crisis, visit ready.gov or ready.dc.gov.