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Governor Jay Inslee announces stay at home order for Washington State and closes many Washington businesses.

Washington State’s Stay at Home Order and Protecting Your Essential Employees from COVID-19

List of Ideas for Employers to Prevent Spread of Coronavirus and Protect their Essential Employees

While the President, Governor, and CDC have encouraged working from home, we know many workers have still been going into work because their responsibilities demand it. On March 23rd, however, Governor Jay Inslee announced a stay-home order that will close many more businesses and increase pressure on businesses to have their employees working from home.

Are you a business owner or manager and still have employees out and about as your business is considered an essential business in this time? Below are some ideas. Stay safe!

Facemasks/Surgical Masks. Should we get them?

No, donate them to a local hospital. The CDC has repeatedly said these should be saved for medical workers and those with symptoms. There is currently a shortage and healthcare workers are even resorting to making their own.

Meetings

In general, skip meetings or make them remote. If you must have in-person meetings, remember your social distancing etiquette and stay 6 feet apart.

Wear gloves so long as healthcare workers have theirs

Even non-sterile gloves can help your hands stay clean.

Hand washing

Require frequent handwashing throughout shifts, before and after shifts, or whatever milestones make sense in your business model.

Phones

Remind employees and partners to sanitize their phones.

Start times

Stagger start and stop times of shifts as to reduce amount of people commuting (via public transportation) at any given time.

Door handles

Prop restroom doors open slightly (when appropriate) to avoid touching handles.

Increase paper towels in bathroom so people can use the paper towels to open door handles.

Evangelize

Create a culture where teammates, partners, clients are all reminded to wash their hands when in the field or on the job.

Signage

Post “handwashing” signs throughout your facility.

Sanitize regularly

Wipe down products and surfaces often.

SBA to Provide Disaster Loans for Coronavirus-Related Economic Disruptions

Business Health Trust is more than just your source for employee benefits. We advocate for small business insurance needs in Washington state, and are vigilant about staying on top of changes in the small business health insurance market.

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to impact small businesses in Washington and nationwide, we would like to offer resources in light of an announcement from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that it will provide economic injury disaster loans for coronavirus-related economic disruptions.

Please view the SBA’s Fact Sheet as the loans pertain specifically to the COVID-19 impact in Washington state.

To determine whether your small business might qualify, the SBA’s Three-Step Process PDF outlines steps to apply and other details. You may download the following forms to apply for the loan:

For additional detailed information, please view a PDF presentation from the SBA.

More information also is available on the SBA’s Disaster Assistance website.

Tips to Stay Focused and Efficient While Working from Home

In the gig economy, working from home is already the norm for many Americans. But for workers more accustomed to a scheduled 9-5 office job, it can be a challenge to find work-life balance from a home office.

Whether you’re working on a laptop or a home computer, it’s important to create a space that puts you into work mode. It may be obvious that means turning off the TV and finding activities in advance for your kids, but your home likely offers a wealth of distractions you haven’t even thought of.

If you’re among the many Washington residents — and soon possibly the entire nation — in search of normalcy from your new home office, we’ve put together a few resources to help you remain focused and efficient when you’re on the clock.

Start with a Clean House

With both spring and potentially COVID-19 in the air, you’ll want to prioritize your annual spring clean if you haven’t already.

To properly clean and disinfect surfaces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work, or you can make a bleach solution with 5 tablespoons bleach per gallon of water, or an alcohol solution of at least 70 percent alcohol.

Once your household is spic and span, try to keep it that way so cleaning doesn’t turn into a distraction during work hours. In the article 5 spring-cleaning tips for a healthier home, Kaiser Permanente recommends you set a schedule for upkeep so you can limit your tidying to a few minutes a day.

Get Up, Get Ready and Go

It may be tempting to throw on some sweats and grab a cup of coffee before plopping in front of your computer, but maintaining your normal morning routine also triggers a working mindset that can help improve productivity.

That means going to bed and waking up at a reasonable hour, and dressing appropriately for the workday, especially if there’s the potential for videoconferencing.

Be sure to also prepare any snacks or meals in advance so you’re not distracted by your growling stomach throughout the day!

Take a Break

If you’re the kind of person who has a hard time stepping away from your computer, find balance by setting a schedule that includes regular breaks from your desk and especially your screen.

Your eyes will thank you for taking a 20-second break to look at something at least 20 feet away every 20 minutes, also known as the “20-20-20” rule, as described in the VSP Vision Care Inc. article on Computer Vision Syndrome. And if you need help staying on track, of course there’s an app for that: Eye Care 20 20 20.

And when your lunch break rolls around, resist the temptation to continue working and be sure to take a break, maybe even go for a walk if that is an option. Maintaining your health is a priority during these uncertain times, and giving your brain and your body breaks is an important part of your overall health.

Commute Time Now Means You Time

Remember traffic? Now that you have the time back that you used to spend commuting, consider sharing these additional precious moments with your loved ones.

With schools closed for the foreseeable future, this means extra time with your kids while you’re not on the clock to help better manage this new version of work-life balance.

And for loved ones who aren’t in your household, be sure to pick up the phone and check in regularly on them. Premera Blue Cross reminds us that social distancing doesn’t mean mentally isolating, and recommends live video or video chat conversations to keep in touch with friends and family.

COVID-19 Anticipated Economic Impacts in Seattle and Washington

Business Health Trust (sponsored by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce) is Washington’s source for employee benefits, but we offer more than just insurance. Our core value is to be a resource to employers in Washington State to our 850+ employers in Washington State.

As part of our dedication to being a resource to employers, we partnered with Community Attributes to provide information that can aid business leaders in decision making as well as to highlight the needs of employers arising from the current COVID-19 pandemic in Washington State.

Download the analysis report here

March “Healthy Living” E-News Focuses on Coronavirus Resources

Usually during this time of year, Healthy Living with Business Health Trust turns its focus toward heading outdoors and fighting spring allergies. But with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continuing to impact us locally and globally, the March edition on Coronavirus Resources: Flyers, Links, Tips and More instead highlights tips to keep you safe and healthy, both at home and at the workplace.

Resources range from helpful flyers that encourage handwashing and other healthy behaviors, to links to our wellness partner including Premera Blue Cross and Kaiser Permanente, as well as information on how to access their virtual care resources.

Read more, sign up and and see past editions on our Healthy Living archive.

Coronavirus Resources from Business Health Trust Wellness Partners

Updated on March 10, 2020.

The coronavirus outbreak is evolving on a daily basis, and Business Health Trust wants to help you keep your workplace and your family healthy with updated resources from our wellness partners and beyond.

Medical professionals are advising people to take the same precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of cold and flu to also help prevent coronavirus. We’ve compiled those tips in the following flyers that can be posted at your workplace or other gathering space:

Further tips are available from wellness partner Wellspring EAP:

For day-to-day updates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a dedicated Coronavirus Disease 2019 page that includes the latest travel guidelines and other time-sensitive information. Statewide updates are available daily on the Washington State Department of Health Coronavirus page.

Business Health Trust partner Premera Blue Cross also offers resources on a dedicated coronavirus page that is being updated as the situation continues to evolve. For Business Health Trust members enrolled in medical coverage through Premera, please take note of the following important resources should you become ill or are just looking for some peace of mind:

  • Teladoc — Talk to a doctor by phone or video anytime, day or night. Be sure to sign up today so you can get care immediately when you need it. Teladoc visits are available at $0 copay through most Business Health Trust plans.
  • Talkspace — If you need somebody to talk to about your fears of coronavirus or other issues, Business Health Trust members enrolled in Premera also have access to on-demand professional therapy through Talkspace. The in-network behavioral telehealth provider gives you access to live video appointments and text messaging with a licensed clinician — anytime, anywhere.
  • Urgent Care or ER? — Not sure which resource is best for you? Check out our article “Need care? Know where to go — and what it will cost” with details to help you decide when to use the 24-hour Nurseline, Teladoc, Urgent Care or the Emergency Room.

For Business Health Trust members enrolled in medical through Kaiser Permanente, there is a dedicated 2019 Novel Coronavirus webpage with tips and resources, including information on the many ways to get care, including:

  • Online visit — Receive a treatment plan and, if needed, a prescription — without a trip to your doctor’s office. Register today to access online visits when you need them most.
  • CareClinic — Kaiser Permanente partners with 15 Bartell Drugs locations in the Puget Sound area to offer walk-in CareClinics staffed with Kaiser Permanente board-certified physician assistants and nurse practitioners who treat minor injuries and illnesses. View CareClinic locations.

These additional tips from Kaiser Permanente on how to “Supercharge your immune system” are also a great resource to help make healthy lifestyle choices that support your immune system year-round.