By Rodney Ross
The world is racing to find a vaccine for the coronavirus. The line between fact and speculation is often blurred. Reporting from ground zero has become difficult because the China government has banned foreign journalist, including three in house WSJ reporters, from China. The WSJ reporters continued to press and find out information about what was really happening with the disease that had its first confirmed case in Wuhan, China.
What is known so far is that you can show no symptoms for up to 14 days, and during this incubation period, the people you come in contact with can contract the illness from you. The first reported cases in the US were an anomaly. In Seattle is were where COVID-19 was first reported in the US with no known contacts, at the time, with anyone who showed symptoms of the virus.
The question must be asked, what is the plan if you contract the coronavirus? Based on North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s press release on March 3rd, you should stay home if you are ill. But how is that going to bode with employers who have strict attendance requirements. When The Carolinian initially began to develop this story, Wake Med was communicating with the known patient infected with Coronavirus via phone. Vitals were cultivated by asking “how are you feeling” questions. That has now changed and it is recommended that you seek medical attention if you show symptoms of 104 degree fever, shortness of breath, especially if you have underlining medical conditions.
The Carolinian newspaper has reached out to Wake Med to ask how people should handle themselves if they suspect they are infected, as well as what their policy is for employees who may become infected. They have not provided any additional information at this time.
Target is also one of Wake County’s largest employers and a message was left with a similar question, ” How will you handle employees who are infected with the virus. Especially if they are limited or out of sick time”. Target CEO Brian Cornell stated in a press release:
“We’ve been monitoring the situation hour by hour as conditions evolve. On the business front, we’ve been contingency planning for weeks with our vendors and our team members – both here in the states and overseas. We feel confident in our plans to manage through this situation.”
Retail chain Belk’s, which is headquartered in Charlotte, was also contacted and there was no response at the time this article was published.
Regardless of your industry, it may be a good time to start having the conversation with your employer on how they will handle your situation if you exhaust all of your sick leave due to contracting the coronavirus. You may want to reach out to your human resources department about workman’s comp, how long you can be out and what the company will actually cover.
Many Americans live paycheck to paycheck. If you are unable to work for two weeks or longer, what will be the ripple effect? Will there be clemency for people who are unable to pay for their living expenses; mortgage or rent, utilities, transportation, and communication. If you can’t go to work, how will you pay for food and medicine such as insulin and blood pressure medicine that is necessary to live?
Although the media states that 16000 people have died from influenza this season, that is less than .055 % of the the 29 million who have contracted the flu. The mortality rate, since the world has become aware of the coronavirus, is significantly higher then initial numbers from China suggested. It was first reported that in China 1 out of every 100 cases resulted in a death. We are skeptical about the true numbers that were given because of the censorship going on in that country. As for now we can only follow the guidelines of solid hygiene and personal habits. Wash our hands, cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze – preferably into the crook of our armpits or elbow. This can keep our hands out of the equation, because our hands carry germs from place to place. If you are unable to wash your hands carry alcohol based hand sanitizer. Try not to get extended wear out of clothes without washing them. Most importantly communicate with your employer and health care provider if you are feeling ill.