The situation surrounding the Coronavirus, officially titled COVID-19, continues to develop. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regularly update their statistics as more is learned about the disease.
Like all of you, FFCC has been tracking and following the global news and responses to the disease, as well as communicating with our event partner contacts and representatives to try and get the best handle on a quickly evolving challenge. Because this virus is new to everyone, there are no substantial template examples or directions that can be offered, other than normal safety guidelines for avoiding other illnesses, like the flu. At this time, our events have not been impacted and will proceed as planned unless local or national health organizations or our contest venues suggest otherwise.
FFCC continues to follow guidance from the Center of Disease Control, state and local departments of health, and school districts to ensure a safe, healthy environment for our participants and fans, but also urges all parties to take precautions they normally would to limit the spread of any illness including steps while traveling.
While the CDC believes the current risk to the American public is low, there are still steps that individuals, and organizations, can take to protect themselves.
WHAT INDIVIDUALS CAN DO
The CDC recommends individuals and families follow everyday preventive measures. These measures include:
• Stay home when you are sick with respiratory disease symptoms. At the present time, these symptoms are more likely due to influenza or other respiratory viruses than to COVID-19-related virus.
• Wash your hands and do so frequently especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Use regular soap and water and sing Happy Birthday (to yourself) while you wash. This will take approximately 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available/convenient, use an alcohol-based gel in its place. To be effective, the alcohol content should be 60% or higher.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands and avoid close contact with people who are displaying symptoms.
• When leaving the restroom, use a paper towel or tissue when reaching for the door handle. Dispose of immediately.
• When you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth AND nose with a tissue. Dispose of the tissue immediately and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer with >60% alcohol content. If a tissue is not available, sneeze or cough into a flexed elbow.
• When talking with people, keep some distance. Keep at least one arms distance between you and other people, especially if they are sneezing and/or coughing.
• Eat smart to maintain your strength.
• Sleep is important – plan your schedules accordingly.
• Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces and objects such as performance equipment, instruments, props, and tarps with sanitizing wipes.
• Avoid handshakes or hugs. Consider a head nod or elbow bump (not a fist bump).
Extras for Travelers – on the Plane or Bus
• Put some sanitizing wipes and a travel size >60% alcohol-based sanitizer in your carry-on bag. These are easily carried in a zip lock bag.
• Wipe down your seat, seat belt and buckle, tray table, armrest, headrest, and the back of the seat in front of you. Ignore the looks from other passengers – this is for your health.
Extras for Travelers – in your Hotel Room
• Put some sanitizing wipes and a travel size >60% alcohol-based sanitizer in your luggage. These are easily carried in a zip lock bag.
• When you arrive in your room, wipe down doorknobs, closet door handles, phones, television remotes, desk area, and all light/lamp switches.
• Repeat these precautions every evening when you return to your room.
WHAT ORGANIZATIONS CAN DO
In addition to communicating the above recommendations to staff and members, organizations can take further steps to be prepared in the event of an outbreak. The current CDC recommended strategies organizations can use now include:
• Actively encourage anyone sick to stay home
• Separate sick participants and staff: CDC recommends that those who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to rehearsals/events or become sick during the day should be separated from rest of the group and be sent home immediately
• Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all those in your organization
• Perform routine environmental cleaning
Many organizations and businesses in the US are facing unique concerns in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. Businesses are seeing large disruptions in their supply chains, having to find ways to compensate for breaks in the chain because of closures in heavily impacted countries. Organizations, such as schools and churches, are having to decide if they should hold large events, or possibly close altogether. While this can be overwhelming, the following should be considered as you navigate the decision-making process and response:
• Remain calm. As with any situation, it is important to remain calm to ensure responses are measured and appropriate.
• Stay informed. Follow trusted sources of information, including the various COVID-19 dedicated websites for the CDC, the WHO, OSHA, and also local governmental health and public safety organizations.
• Be prepared. Create a plan for yourself, your family, your community, and your organization and trust in that plan. Be sure to follow the steps that have been laid out.
• Communicate. Be sure to communicate plans and information to all involved, including participants, instructional staff, volunteers, parents, and others.
• In addition, please review the following resources: