A man wearing a protective mask while commuting on a train. (Photo: Shutterstock) A man wearing a protective mask while commuting on a train. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Despite efforts to contain the outbreak, the coronavirus is continuing to spread throughout the world. As of March 5, the virus had already claimed the lives of 11 people in the U.S., where there are more than 150 reported cases across 15 states, according to CNN. Globally, there are close to 95,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in more than 70 countries and territories. 

In light of disease's severity, the editors at FC&S Expert Coverage Interpretation have developed a checklist for individuals and businesses to help everyone prepare for potential illness and slowdowns in business and supply chains.

Assessing risk

First, individuals and businesses should assess their risk of exposure or infection to understand the proper precautions to take. 

HIGH RISK Living in the same household, intimate relations and/or caring for someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 without using precautions (precautions are keeping the ill person in a separate bedroom, use of gloves and masks for any contact, and proper handwashing).

Travel from Hubei Province, China. 

MEDIUM RISK Close contact with someone with symptoms of infection but not high risk. Being in an airplane within 6 feet of someone with the infection, living in the same household, intimate relations, or caring for someone with the infection and consistently using all recommended precautions. 

Travel from mainland China outside Hubei province and not having any high-risk exposures. 

LOW RISK Being in the same indoor environment as someone with the virus for a prolonged period of time but not within close (6 feet) contact. 

Travel on an aircraft within 2 rows of a traveler with the virus but not within 6 feet and not having any exposure that meets medium or high-risk exposure. 

NO RISK No interactions with people with symptoms of the disease, such as walking by the person or being briefly in the same room. 

Pandemic preparation checklist


Wash hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, particularly when you get home from being out in public. Changing clothes is not a bad idea either. 
Wipe down surfaces regularly, especially doorknobs and counters. 
Clean remotes, phones, keyboards. 
Stock up on dry goods and food for approximately 2 weeks; this is so that if you need to self-quarantine, you have supplies handy. No need to hoard, but having some extra on hand gives you wiggle room. Be sure to have Acetaminophen, aspirin, Gatorade or similar drinks, and nausea medication handy just in case.  
Be sure to keep your supply of prescription medications up to date; do not wait until you are out of medications to order a refill. 
Face masks are not needed unless you are ill. They should be used if you are unwell to prevent the spread of the virus to others. It's important that if you are using a face mask that it fits properly, and you avoid touching the front of it. 
Develop a plan for if schools are closed or if your child is sick and cannot go to daycare; your current 'plan B' may not be available, so have a 'plan C.' 
If traveling, consider plans for if you get stuck overseas or on a cruise ship and cannot get home. 


Encourage sick employees to stay home. Suspend requirements for notes from healthcare providers — those offices are likely to be extremely busy, and it's better to keep those with the virus away from others. Employees should not return to work unless they are free of a fever (100.4 degrees) for at least 24 hours without the use of medications to reduce the fever. Extend sick leave so that employees do not feel impelled to come to work because they have bills to pay. 
Separate any employees that arrive at work with a respiratory illness or develop one during the day and send them home immediately. 
Encourage employees to work remotely if they are able to. 
If remote work isn't possible, allow employees to stagger shifts. 
Test remote and staggered shifts now before you are in an emergency situation to work out any possible kinks that might arise. 
Allow employees to stay home to care for ill family members. People can have the virus and not have symptoms; those with ill family members could have it as well and not know it. 
Provide tissues and no-touch trash cans; post hygiene reminders. 
Develop a communication plan to keep employees up to date on the status of the virus. Ensure employees know what the communication plan is. 
Develop an activation plan and ensure all employees know what to expect. 
Assess staffing — what work is critical, and which employees can do those tasks. Unless required to work together, consider separating them so there is less chance of all critical employees getting ill at once. 
Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (doorknobs, desks, keyboards, etc.) can be regularly wiped down. 
Reconsider employee travel; limit it to what is essential. Schedule video conferences or use other remote conferencing technology. Advise employees to have plans in the event of getting stuck in an area that becomes quarantined because of the virus. Will you extend employee sick leave or paid vacation if an employee is ill or trapped in a quarantine zone?
Provide alcohol-based hand rubs around the office and encourage their use. Place them in open areas, conference rooms, kitchen and break rooms. 
Encourage employees who become ill while traveling or on temporary assignment to contact their supervisor and medical provider if needed. 
Perform routine cleaning of the office (weekly). Ensure that surfaces are wiped down. 
Employers should review insurance coverage; is business income/interruption coverage on the current policy? Will it provide coverage for a shutdown because of the action of civil authority, such as a quarantine? 
Are there liability and workers' compensation coverages in place if employees or customers catch the virus at the business location? 
Are there alternative supply sources if business products are unavailable from China or other locales? 
Stock up on basic office supplies as well as supplies needed for production and other work tasks.  
Can the business operations be conducted at alternate locations if the current location is quarantined? 
If employees are not cross-trained for key tasks, begin cross-training now to avoid gaps in production. 

For more coronavirus coverage, including how insurance coverage may apply to losses caused by the outbreak, visit our Instant Insights page, "The coronavirus and its impact."


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