Coronavirus COVID-19 Coworking with COVID-19 

March, 2020 - Mark Peters, Caraline Rickard

Soccer matches played to 100,000 empty seats. Marathons with 200 runners in silent streets. Business blocks deserted. Restaurants closed. Those areas hardest hit by coronavirus can look like something out of an apocalyptic movie. And now, just two months after the new type of virus was first identified in China, Coronavirus-2019 (COVID-19) has hit the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, coronavirus has been found in over 80 countries and 13 U.S. states, with the number growing every day. The novel disease has set off the kind of public anxiety not seen since the Ebola outbreak of 2014 and H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak of 2009. In this strange new world, what can employers do to protect their workers and businesses?

What is COVID-19?

First things first: COVID-19 is a new strand of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China, on January 3, 2020. According to theCDC, “Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.” The common cold and upper respiratory infections are commonly caused by types of coronaviruses. So are more serious illnesses that have been the cause of past global outbreak crises, like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The new coronavirus causes a disease called COVID-19.

What are the symptoms and severity of COVID-19?

Much of the anxiety surrounding coronavirus comes from its association with serious illnesses like MERS and SARs, which cause severe illnesses and have high mortality rates. While COVID-19 is not fully understood, it is believed that most cases are mild, withsymptomsthat look like the a normal respiratory infection: fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. In about 16% of cases, people develop serious illnesses. Like the seasonal flu, older people and people with preexisting conditions are at the greatest risk of developing serious illnesses. As of March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) calculates the death rate at about 3.4%. However, it is believed that a large number of people are probably infected but have mild or no symptoms and thus go undiagnosed. TheWHO believesthat, once they better understand these cases, the death rate number will likely go down.


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