With winter around the corner and the threat of seasonal viruses looming, a second wave of COVID-19 poses a real threat to our health and business operations, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that the 2019-2020 flu season took 24,000 lives and sickened 39 million individuals. When we add the fact that there are children who might not be receiving vaccinations – be it for the measles, whooping cough, and others – due to COVID-19, the risk for infections multiply. Based on these factors, there is a real possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 and other seasonal illnesses impacting business operations for the worse.
As the State of Washington’s Department of Commerce explains, there are many steps that businesses can take to prepare for a second wave of the coronavirus. Here are a few recommendations that can be applied and modified, depending on the type of business:
The Washington State Department of Commerce recommends businesses use their digital presence –such as email, website, blog, or social media – to inform and connect with customers. There’s a balance that companies need to find between marketing and selling products or services and not sounding tone-deaf to the situation that COVID-19 has created.
For example, by creating a brief blog or social media post, companies can acknowledge that COVID-19 is a stressful time for everyone but communicate that the company will still be there for them. Explaining how they’re taking care of their employees (social distancing, letting employees work from home, and/or take time off for themselves or family members) and how they’re welcoming customers in-store or making house calls (with masks, social distancing, using technology when appropriate), it can create empathy and promote a sense of goodwill.
Another way to leverage digital communication channels is to create a standalone email address to funnel visitor and customer questions regarding COVID-19 concerns.
Planning on how to deal with food that won’t be used is an important step for organizations that deal with mass quantities of food. For schools, colleges, or universities that were open but have closed or others that want to make contingencies to close, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends a few different avenues to make good use of food that would otherwise spoil. Organizations should make plans to donate to food banks or food rescue organizations; and there is also the EPA’s Excess Food Opportunities Map, which can direct unused food to compost options for businesses.
Another way for companies to prepare for a second wave of COVID-19, as the State of Washington’s Department of Commerce points out, is to ensure all documents are up-to-date and accessible via hard copy and electronically. Example documents include minutes and resolutions from official business meetings, tax records – especially any recently filed quarterly estimate payments – and lists of vendors. Companies also should ensure that digital files are encrypted, protected by passwords and that the cloud provider has a firewall, security scanning, and continually addresses vulnerabilities.
Business owners should have contingency plans to deal with supply chain issues. One way to mitigate supplier issues, according to McKinsey & Company, is to negotiate with existing suppliers that have cash or liquidity issues.
By offering essential suppliers with loans, often at attractive interest rates compared to lenders, as a way to keep suppliers in business, businesses may be able to negotiate for exclusive or high priority production agreements. This can be done while looking for alternate suppliers, either domestically or in other parts of the world.
While the second wave of COVID-19 is a real possibility, taking steps to prepare for any surge in cases will help companies increase their chances to make it out of the pandemic.