In recent weeks, it has become clear that the COVID-19 coronavirus is unprecedented. Many of us have never seen an outbreak like this in our lifetimes, and every single one of us will be affected. At the Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau, we work directly within the industry that is proving to be one of the hardest hit, food service and hospitality.
Restaurant and hotel staff across the country have experienced changes in their hours of operation and some have been told they are unable to report to work.
While we know that has caused hardship and anxiety for service-industry workers across the United States, we want to take some time to share the best information we have to try to stem the losses in for business owners and employees alike, and most importantly, to keep everyone safe.
While it’s tempting to look at business losses and think that the sky is falling, it’s important to remember that the number one priority throughout this difficult time is keeping people safe. Investments will bounce back. We live in the most resource rich country the world has ever seen and yes, it will be hard, yes, some businesses may have to close, but there is simply no replacement for the loss of someone’s life.
COVID-19 is extremely contagious, and as such, it will require EVERYONE’S help to try and stop the spread.
Recognize the Signs
Sore throat, fever, cough, shortness of breath – these are all signs that you may have come into contact with the coronavirus. If any of these describe the way you’re feeling DO NOT LEAVE YOUR HOME FOR ANY CIRCUMSTANCE. Call the Finney County Coronavirus hotline at 620.276.3600. Do not go to the hospital or any other healthcare facility unless you have been instructed to do so.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness and is spread through the air via person-to-person contact. The virus can travel on microscopic air droplets distances up to six feet. It can also be spread through contact with an object that has been touched by someone who has been infected.
Things YOU can do to help contain the spread tend to revolve around cleaning and sanitization. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, several times per day. Use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol if you have it. Clean and sanitize any high-use items, objects, and spaces. Don’t touch your face, especially your eyes and mouth, especially with unwashed hands. Cover your mouth in the shoulder or upper arm if you cough or sneeze, and, whether you are sick or not, STAY HOME IF POSSIBLE, and avoid public spaces.
While masks might seem like a good idea, we don’t have an unlimited supply. Leave those for people who are the highest risk, such as medical professionals and grocery workers. And please, if you ARE able to go out, don’t stockpile supplies such as food and toilet paper. Buy enough so you are covered for a couple weeks, that way there will be enough to go around.
And if you do have to go out to buy groceries or other supplies, consider buying some for people who are higher risk, grandparents and elderly neighbors.
Don’t be Racist
Everyone is susceptible to disease, no matter their race or ethnicity. No one race is any more or less at risk to contract the disease than any other. Stick together and help stop misinformation like this from spreading.
COVID-19 is not an Asian disease, African disease, American disease, or Antarctic disease. It is a HUMAN disease.
Use the Benefits Available
Emergency unemployment benefits can be found on state’s websites. Most have waived waiting periods and any and all workers affected by closures due to COVID-19 are urged to sign up. Benefits will not be the same as workers were earning before, but could serve as a potential stopgap as they face the loss of wages for an extended period of time.
If You’re A Business Owner
Consider shutting down. We know, for a lot of hotels and restaurants, the margins are razor thin as it is, but we can’t stress enough how important it is to protect your workers.
That said, there are many businesses who will have to weather the storm. Food services will still need to be provided and, as borders close and travel because difficult even domestically, some travelers may find themselves stranded.
For businesses, the rules of personal protection will still apply, in fact, they’ll be even more important. Keeping employees protected and high traffic areas sanitized is an absolute must. If an employee tells you they are sick or feeling ill, SEND THEM HOME IMMEDIATELY.
If you’re able to separate and maintain space between employees and customers, do so. The CDC has stated that the virus can travel through the air a distance of six feet, so strive to keep that distance between customers and employees.
Consider keeping high risk employees, (older employees or those with existing chronic health conditions) home from work even before they feel symptoms. Inform your employees of their options when it comes to seeking unemployment and financial help during this time of hardship.
At the risk of repeating ourselves, if it is at all possible to keep employees at home, do so. If not, strive to provide a safe, sterile environment that minimizes their contact with the outside world and can help to keep them protected.
The CDC is constatly updating its website with the latest news and information about containing the spread of the virus. Check back often and make sure you are staying informed of the measures the government is taking to mitigate the cost of this virus, both human and financial, and ALWAYS maintain compliance with their direction.
Let’s remember what is important, and trust the experts during this difficult time.
If you need ANYTHING, have questions, or would like to request more information, don’t hesitate to contact us.