Will coronavirus become a pandemic? What would that mean for the economy? What are businesses and the government doing to prevent (or at least slow) its spread?
My Inc.com colleagues are all over these questions, reporting on possible knock-on effects of the outbreak, offering advice on mastering remote work, taking you inside Amazon's battle against price gouging, and even updating us on how the virus is impacting sales of Corona beer (fear not, they are modestly up).
But what about more nuts-and-bolts advice on what startups should be doing right now to prepare? While each company will have to sort out individual supply chain issues and assess local risk for themselves, there are a few things just about every business can do. Serial entrepreneur Elad Gil's rounded them up in a helpful recent blog post.
What your business should be doing to prepare
In kicks off with a note about his qualifications to write on the topic - he offers to pass on "what I have seen larger companies quietly adopt" and notes he's been on "a number of small group calls with some of the epidemiologists working on this" - before summarizing what we know about the disease (the CDC is a good source for the latest info; everything is in flux as more data comes in).
All of this is worth checking out if you haven't been following closely, but the most valuable part of the post may be his advice on what companies should be doing to prepare:
Encourage hand-washing. This is a no-brainer and you've no doubt heard this advice before (but maybe you didn't know all these fun songs have 20-second choruses, so you can hum something besides 'Happy Birthday' to yourself as you scrub for the recommended time).
Wipe down work areas regularly. "There is some evidence suggesting the virus may stick around for at least a few hours, if not more, on surfaces. You may also want to wipe your phone down on a regular basis," Gill points out.
Encourage flu vaccination. Again, like hand washing, this is something we should have been doing anyway, but it's even more important now. "This will decrease health burden on hospitals and also prevent people from getting the flu and thinking they have COVID-19," Gil explains.
Zero tolerance sick policy. "Anyone who is sick, or starting to feel sick, should take a sick day or work from home." It will help a lot if employees have paid sick leave.
Avoid travel. If it can be done over a video call, do it over a video call. Also, be particularly cautious about both visiting and receiving visitors from places with serious outbreaks, such as China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran (the latest advice from the CDC is here). "If an employee is returning from one of these countries, they may want to consider self-quarantine for 14 days," Gil adds.
Plan for more remote work. I point you to my colleague Jason Aten's guide on this.
Expect a second wave. President Trump may be out there reassuring the public that this all goes away with the arrival of warmer weather, but evidence from past outbreaks strongly suggests that virus will come back when the weather cools again or our vigilance flags. So don't think we're all out of the woods come May.
Looking for many more details? Check out the complete post.