Thoughts and Analysis by Tom Henkey
Director of Emergency Management, Titan Security Group
As you have likely heard from various news outlets, a serious illness outbreak has occurred in Asia, and a number of cases have been identified here in the United States – all related to individuals who had traveled to the original area of the disease outbreak. The illness has been identified as a coronavirus, named after a specific type or strain.
The virus was first identified in the Wuhan province of east-central China. Because it had not been observed in humans before, it is referred to as a novel virus. Like the common cold or seasonal flu, this illness is caused by a microscopic virus that can cause infection to spread. While the virus is new and medical professionals are learning more about it each day, initial assessments indicate it has a low fatality rate – similar to seasonal flu – yet is highly contagious. The risk here is therefore that the contagion spreads to so many people, that even a 3-to-5% fatality rate could lead to a very high death toll.
Coronavirus symptoms may include:
- Difficulty Breathing
- Severe Illness
As with any virus, you can protect yourself and others by:
- Washing your hands regularly with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze – remember to wash your hands afterward.
- Avoiding close contact with sick people. If you are sick, stay home from school or work for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care.
- Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
In addition to these general measures, the building management community may benefit from:
- Cleaning staff implementing additional cleaning and disinfecting measures on frequently handled surfaces such as door handles, handrails, countertops, elevator buttons, computer keyboards, etc.
- Engineering staff reviewing HVAC protocol to control airflow via overpressure or under pressure
- Using the coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity to review and refresh facility pandemic or communicable disease emergency plans
- Working with tenants to review work-from-home protocols for non-essential staff
- Advocating that building, tenant, and contractor employees stay at home or seek medical attention if they are exhibiting any of the symptoms noted above
- Report any unusual illness or cluster of symptoms to the Chicago Department of Public Health by calling 312-746-SICK (7425)
Note that there is no cure for coronavirus – however, many of the symptoms can be effectively treated. Like any outbreak of communicable disease, the chain of contagion will be broken when the virus is isolated from other healthy individuals and is therefore unable to spread further.
Additional information may be found via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus or the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) website at www.chicago.gov/2019-nCoV
As always, if you “See Something, Say Something”. For life-threatening emergencies, call 911. To report suspicious activity, call 855-RPRT-2-S4 (855-777-8274).