What Your Business Can Do to Avoid Being Affected by This Winter's "Twindemic"

In the beginning months of the COVID-19 pandemic, some prominent voices expressed optimism about the virus’ trajectory, projecting that life might get back to normal in the early to mid-summer. While U.S. case numbers did begin to decline during the summer, recent data has shown a major spike in the spread of this disease. And as temperatures continue to drop, people will begin to gather indoors, increasing the risk and rate of transmission. To make matters worse, this escalation in COVID-19 cases will soon collide with the standard influenza season, which typically runs from October through April and peaks between December and February. Health experts have dubbed this dual-threat the “twindemic” and express concerns about how the two viruses and their related symptoms might interact with one another, especially since they are both respiratory illnesses. Unless state governments implement another widespread lockdown, your business will have to do its best to operate and keep its people safe amidst this unprecedented crisis. So, what exactly can your business do to avoid being affected by this winter’s “twindemic?”

Continue Testing and Checking for Symptoms

If anything positive has come from this year’s COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that governments, businesses, and individuals have quickly adapted to these unique challenges and developed effective strategies for preventing the spread of illness overall. Businesses that already have systems and resources in place to check employees’ and customers’ temperatures and symptoms can now apply these methods to the incoming flu season as well. While this daily surveillance cannot guarantee that everyone will avoid falling ill, it greatly reduces the risk of transmission.

Maintain Established COVID-19 Procedures

Following the previous point, the best practices established over the past year to combat COVID-19 should continue into the flu season and beyond. These measures include things like social distancing, mask-wearing, thorough hand-washing, and more. All of these efforts will mitigate the spread of both COVID-19 and strains of influenza. Fortunately, most of us have gotten used to abiding by these procedures, so asking them of your people and customers won’t require as much buy-in.

Strongly Encourage Vaccination

Vaccinations remain one of the most important and effective ways to stop the spread of flu and other contagious diseases. While the annual influenza vaccine is never 100% effective, it reduces your risk of acquiring the disease by 40%-60% and helps you avoid severe symptoms should you acquire it after vaccination. Ultimately, when more people receive the flu vaccine, there are fewer cases overall and fewer hospitalizations (which is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic when hospitals and ICUs are already approaching capacity). Of course, the U.S. government cannot force adults to get vaccinated if they don’t want to. Businesses, on the other hand, have more of a say in this regard and may in some cases require employees and customers to show proof of vaccination before entering. Still, people can cite legally-backed health-related and religious reasons for not getting vaccinated, so there’s no simple way to mandate that everyone who enters your business has received a vaccine. Generally speaking, the best you can do to mitigate the “twindemic” via vaccination, then, is to strongly encourage your people to get their flu shot. Some businesses may even have the resources to provide free on-site flu shots for all employees. Recently (as of early November 2020), the pharmaceutical company Pfizer unveiled a COVID-19 vaccine that may prove 90% effective. However, it’s doubtful that this vaccine will be readily available until later in 2021, so it might not factor into your business’ battle against this year’s “twindemic.”

Prioritize Cleanliness, Sanitation, and Disinfection

While most flu and COVID-19 transmission occurs through the air via respiratory droplets, it may be possible to contract the illness by touching infected surfaces as well (especially regarding influenza). So, the more your business can do to maintain a clean, sanitary workplace, the better. If possible, you might hire disinfection services to regularly spray and wipe down high-touch surfaces or at least provide you with the supplies you need to do so. Your janitorial services, whether in-house or outsourced, should also be well-versed in proper disinfection protocols. Additionally, provide your people with ample hand sanitizers and wipes, etc., to ensure everyone is keeping their bodies and work areas free from viruses and other harmful substances.

Navigating a Diseased Double-Whammy

The standard flu season can be difficult enough for businesses and individuals to manage -- combine that with a rare pandemic and you have quite the uphill battle this winter. Let The Budd Group help. Our facility management services are designed to give you the resources and aid you need to keep your workplace operational, clean, and safe for everyone, no matter the surrounding circumstances. To learn more about our services and values, give us a call today at 800-221-8158!

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