Friday, March 13, 2020

COVID-19


We are sure none of you woke up on Monday and expected this week to go the way it has. We have been monitoring the COVID-19 situation and looking at it from three perspectives: as an employer concerned about our own employees, as the host of several upcoming large events, and as the leader of the local business advocacy organization.  

COVID-19 Information
Information related to COVID-19 changes daily – sometimes many times in a day. It is important that you check with reliable information sources at least daily, if not more frequently.

You can find regularly updated information at the:  

·         Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) www.cdc.gov 
·         Illinois Department of Public Health at http://dph.illinois.gov.  

You can also subscribe at www.Nixle.com and receive updates from the City of Pekin Police Department, or you can text PEKINPD to 888777 to receive text updates.   

Public Events, Gatherings, and Meetings
Emergency, health care, school and government agencies met today to discuss the COVID-19 situation in the immediate Pekin area.  It is good these groups are communicating and sharing information.
 
Dr. Ashley Huff, the UnityPoint Health EMS System Medical Director, clearly explained to the group the need to “flatten the curve.” She stated we will all likely be infected by the COVID-19 virus sooner or later. However, 98% of us will have only cold-like symptoms, while only 2% of us will with have more severe symptoms.

In Italy, Iran, and China too many people became sick in a very short time span and overwhelmed the capacity of their medical facilities.  In the US, as we cancel large gatherings, we can slow the spread of the virus and not over-burden our health care systems.  There is a good article and graph that explains this at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/science/coronavirus-curve-mitigation-infection.html.

Yesterday Illinois Governor JB Pritzker issued guidelines concerning large gatherings in public spaces. He recommended all public gatherings and community events expected to attract 250 people or more be canceled or postponed. This aligns with guidelines from the CDC.

Chamber Events
After much thought and consideration, we decided to postpone the Pekin Business Showcase (at the Pekin Kids Festival) originally scheduled for April 4th. It will be rescheduled for October 11th and we will soon contact our vendors to finalize plans. We believe this is a proactive step to ensure we remain a healthy community.

In addition to board and committee meetings, the Chamber also has several events scheduled in the next few weeks:

·         Open House for Bill Fleming’s retirement on March 19th
·         R. David Tebben Community Leadership Academy banquet on March 24th
·         Puttin’ On Pekin Breakfast on April 17th
·         Chamber’s annual meeting and reception at the Pekin Country Club on April 20th

At this point committee meetings and the above events will continue as scheduled. We love the work we do and believe in the importance and value of connecting business leaders. But we also need to evaluate the risks given the current environment.  We will continue to monitor the situation and make announcements about these events if there is a need.

Resources for Employers
As employers we are facing an unprecedented situation and must think proactively about our response. Employers should put a plan in place now to protect their workforce and ensure the continuity of their operations. There are resources for employers available at:

US Chamber www.uschamber.com
Illinois Department of Public Health http://dph.illinois.gov

Additionally, local experts recommend employers consider proactive steps like:

·         relax sick time policies
·         drop requirements for a doctor’s excuse for sick time (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by the local health care professionals as it needlessly burdens them)
·         plan for employee absences in the event an employee must stay home for an extended time period (illness, no school, etc.)
·         plan for remote work from home
·         reduce travel
·         eliminate large group meetings

A Final Note
Please update us on what is happening at your business as it relates to COVID-19 and any potential impacts on your business. Ask us questions – that will help guide us on future updates. Don’t hesitate to call us and let us know how we can help.

While this particular situation is new, we have faced many challenges before. We will get through this one as well. We must support each other – especially the most at-risk population, be extra patient with people during this time, and support our local businesses.

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