This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation. This fact sheet will be updated as needed. See links at the bottom of this page for the most up-to-date information.
Since December 2019, there has been an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China and has now been detected in 60 locations internationally, including in several states within the United States. This disease has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
Globally, 73 countries have had over 92,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 that have resulted in over 3,000 deaths. More new cases are occurring outside China than in China.
In the United States, currently 13 States have reported confirmed cases; there are Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. These and other States not listed here continue to test suspected cases and will report confirmed cases to local health departments and to the CDC.
COVID-19 is a new disease and there is more to learn about the characteristics of the virus, including how well it spreads between people, the severity of resulting illness, and the medical or other measures available to control the impact of the virus (for example, vaccine or treatment medications).
WHAT IS COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people.
WHY IS THE COVID-19 CAUSE FOR CONCERN?
Itcankillhealthyadultsinadditiontoelderlypeoplewithexistinghealthproblems.Accordingtothemore recentstatementformtheWorldHealthOrganization(WHO),globally,about3.4%ofconfirmedpatients havedied;thisratewouldmakeitmanytimesmoreseverethantypicalseasonalinfluenza,puttingit somewherebetweenthe1957influenzapandemic (0.6%) and the 1918 influenzapandemic(2%).2
Symptoms of COVID-19 appear within two to 14 days after exposure and there is strong evidence that it can be transmitted by people who are just mildly ill or evenpre-symptomatic
HOW DOES COVID-19 SPREAD?
Current understanding about how the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spreads is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses. However, this is a changing situation and there is ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 is spread.
The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily in the community (“community spread”). Infected patients have spread the virus to healthcare workers and may have to emergency responders as well.
A person would be contagious during the “incubation period,” the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease- is up to 14 days. This estimate will be updated as more data become available.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from.
Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6feet).
Respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs orsneezes.
Thesedropletscanlandinthemouthsornosesofpeoplewhoarenearbyorpossiblybeinhaled into the lungs.
People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (thesickest).
Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virusspreads.
SPREAD FROM CONTACT WITH INFECTED SURFACES OR OBJECTS
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
According to the CDC, “In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures.”
WHICH WORKERS ARE AT INCREASED RISK?
Several workers employed at a long-term care facility as well as firefighters in Washington State and two health care workers in California have been either quarantined or diagnosed with COVID-19.
Working people are at increased risk if they frequently interact with potentially infected or infected individuals. Workers who are at increased risk include:
Emergency responders (e.g., law enforcement, firefighters,EMTs);
Airline operations (e.g., pilots, flight attendants, other airportworkers);
Other transportation operations;
Workers who have been identified as “essential personnel” by their employers during an outbreak or quarantine;and
Other workers with broad exposure to the public.
WHAT ARE THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAYS TO PROTECT WORKERS?
Measures for protecting workers from exposure to, and infection with, the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 depend on the type of work being performed and exposure risk, including potential for interaction with infectious people and contamination of the work environment. Employers should adopt infection control strategies based on a thorough hazard assessment, following the ‘hierarchy of controls,’ including using appropriate combinations of engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent worker exposures. Some OSHA standards that apply to prevent occupational exposure to COVID-19 also require employers to train workers on elements of infection prevention, including PPE.
For information on risks and protective measures in affected sectors, check the IBT website, and see links
to ther federal and state agencies at the end of this fact sheet.
HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES
Comprehensive workplace plans to identify potential exposure routes, establish controls to mitigate risk and implement trainingprocedures.
Emphasis on personal hygiene practices, hand-washing, and respiratoryetiquette.
Adequate supplies of personal protective equipment, especially N95 respirators, and respirator fittesting.
Protocols to clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects andsurfaces.
Protocols in case of a workplace or community outbreak, including possible self-quarantine or workplacequarantine.
Plans for supply shortages, triage, prioritization, and othercontingencies.
ConsulttheCentersforDiseaseControlandPrevention(CDC)beforehostingandattendingeventsor large gatherings. CDC recommendations may change as the situation evolves.
As a union, the rights and benefits we have fought for can help to prevent disease and help people who do become ill, including:
Adequate,non-punitivesickleavepoliciesthatencouragesickworkerstostayathomewithouttheloss ofpay,benefits,seniority or other benefits.
Family leave policies that allow people to stay home to take care of householdmembers.
Financial remedies for unemployment scenarios, where people are not able to be at work or are required to work overtime to take care ofpatients.
Access to quality and affordable health care.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "Most patients (80%) experiencedmild illness…approximately 14% experienced severe disease and 5% were critically ill."
Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop seriousillness.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and drycough.
Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat ordiarrhea.
These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.
Somepeoplebecomeinfectedbutdon’tdevelopanysymptomsanddon'tfeelunwell.Mostpeople(about 80%) recover from the disease withoutneedingspecialtreatment.
Globally, 3.4% of people with the disease have died. The mortality rate is subject tochange.
People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
IS THERE A VACCINE, DRUG, OR TREATMENT FOR COVID-19?
To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019. Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments to prevent and treat COVID-19 are underinvestigation.
Those affected should receive care to relievesymptoms.
People with serious illnesses should be hospitalized. Most patients recover thanks to supportivecare.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT RISK STATUS OF COVID-19 IN THE UNITED STATES?
COVID-19 virus is NOT currently spreading widely in the United States. However, it is important to note that current global circumstances suggest it is likely that this virus will cause a pandemic. This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment will be updated as needed.
For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered to below.
People in communities where community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated though still relatively low risk ofexposure.
Healthcare workers exposed to patients with COVID-19, whether they are providing care or cleaning, are at elevated risk ofexposure.
Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
Travelers returning from affected international locations with community spread are also at elevated risk ofexposure.
WHAT IS EXPECTED TO OCCUR WITH COVID-19 IN THE US?
As person-to-person spread will continue to occur, more cases of COVID-19 are likely to be identified globally, including more cases in the United States. It is likely that at some point, the widespread transmission of COVID- 19 in the United States will occur.
At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat
it. Nonpharmaceutical interventions are available.
Widespread transmission of COVID-19 would translate into:
Large numbers of people needing medical care at the sametime.
Health care providers and hospitals may beoverwhelmed.
Information & Checklist
What is the Coronavirus?
Coronavirusesarealargefamilyof virusesthatarecommoninhumansandmany different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people, such as with MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person in China and some limited person-to-person transmission has been reported in countries outside China, including the United States. However, respiratory illnesses like seasonal
influenza, are currently widespread in many US communities.
Please review this checklist to help take steps to plan and protect the health and safety of your staff and colleagues Administration & Logistics:
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Identify a pandemic coordinator and/or team with defined roles and responsibilities for preparedness & response planning.
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Stay informed about the local flu situation and school closures.
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Put your plans, policies, and strategies into action, as needed.
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Update staff, customers, and suppliers with information about how your business is responding to the pandemic.
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Establish a process to communicate information to employees on your infectious disease
rumors, and misinformation, and plan communications accordingly.
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Are there flu-prevention supplies in your workplace (soap, hand sanitizer with at least 60%
alcohol, tissues, trash baskets, and disposable facemasks)?
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Are their flexible pandemic flu attendance and sick-leave policies? Workers may need to stay home when they are sick, caring for a sick household member, or caring for their children in the event of school dismissals. Identify critical job functions and positions, and plan for
alternative coverage by cross-training staff (similar to planning for holiday staffing).
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Is there a method for monitoring and tracking flu-related worker absences? Understand your usual absenteeism patterns at each worksite.
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Evaluate employee access to and availability of healthcare services during a pandemic, and
improve services as needed.
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Can you identify space that can be used to separate sick people (if possible)? Designate a space for people who may become sick and cannot leave the workplace immediately. If possible,
designate a nearby separate bathroom just for sick people. Develop a plan for cleaning the
âÂ˜Â� Consistently practice social distancing. Plan ways to increase space between people to at least 3 feet or limit face-to-face contact between workers and those who come to the workplace. Several ways to do this include offering workers the option to telework, creating reduced or staggered work schedules, spacing workers farther apart, and postponing non-essential meetings andtravel.
âÂ˜Â� Place reminders on Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue isavailable).
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Place reminders on Maintain hand hygiene
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Place reminders on Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Clean surfaces frequently
Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations,
countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and
follow the directions on the label.
Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards,
remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use.
Additional Measures in Response to Currently Occurring Sporadic Importations of the
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees to their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees exposed to a co-worker with confirmed
COVID-19 should refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Review your process for planning workplace events. Identify actions to take if you need to
temporarily postpone or cancel events.
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which you will travel. Specific travel information for travelers going to and
returning from China, and information for aircrew, can be found at on the CDC website.
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Advise employees to check themselves for symptoms of acute respiratory illness before
starting travel and notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Ensure employees who become sick while traveling or on temporary assignment understand that they should notify their supervisor and should promptly call a healthcare provider for advice if needed.
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Do not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.
âÂ˜Â� âÂ˜Â� Employers should maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. Employers should be aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual.