COVID-19 Daily Summary – March 20, 2020: Focus on Child Care

Author(s): Carmi Levy

Help your people take care of their families

We continue to develop research critical to your COVID-19 pandemic response, and our blueprint, The Essential COVID-19 Child Care Policy for Every Organization, Yesterday, is a must-download resource. Because your employees aren’t only striving to keep your organization running effectively during the pandemic; many of them are likely also struggling to care for children and/or elderly relatives at home.

Use our comprehensive guide to develop a sustainable policy that helps you balance employee and organizational needs, discuss priority-setting with your staff, support mental health needs, communicate effectively throughout, and adjust performance expectations for as long as the crisis lasts. This research is critical to ensuring your people remain focused and supported for the foreseeable future, and we’ve packed the toolkit with everything you’ll need to act quickly and decisively, including:

  • A sample Pandemic Dependent Care Policy that senior leaders can customize for their organizational needs.
  • A manager action toolkit and employee communication aid to help navigate this potentially confusing period.
  • A template agreement for dependent-flextime, in case individual employee measures need to be implemented.

These are just some of the many pieces of new and updated research that we’re adding daily to our COVID-19 Resource Center. Check back regularly for the latest pandemic-focused research.

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Today’s theme: All hands on deck

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. – Helen Keller

Recent milestones

  • States tighten the limits. The first mandatory state-wide restrictions are announced as California orders its 40 million residents to stay home, while New York issues an executive order requiring all workers in non-essential businesses to self-isolate. Californians are barred from leaving home except for essentials such as shopping for food and prescriptions, health care, and commuting to jobs deemed essential. Governor Gavin Newsom says the limits will stay in place until further notice. Combined, the two orders affect nearly 1 in 5 Americans.
  • Unemployment spikes. Several US states report massive jumps in unemployment filings. Illinois says its systems are overwhelmed by a 10-fold increase in benefit claims. New York State’s labor website records a 400% increase in traffic, and Ohio’s Department of Jobs and Family Services is extending its hours as employment claims skyrocket 25x.
  • Vendors zero in on price-gouging. Kraft Heinz CEO Miguel Patricio confirms his company is actively shifting its production to keep grocery shelves stocked. The company has halted production of some SKUs so it can focus on higher-demand products. Amazon says it is using both automated and manual methods to identify price gouging and has already removed over 530,000 listings and suspended 2,500 US sellers for pandemic-related price gouging.
  • Olympics still a go. The Olympic flame arrives in Japan from Greece as calls to postpone the games get louder. The IOC president continues to insist the games will not be cancelled but doesn’t rule out postponement.
  • China turns the corner. The city where scientists believe the pandemic first took hold marks an important milestone as Wuhan officials record the first day of no new COVID-19 infections. The milestone is attributed to China’s aggressive efforts to limit public activities.
  • Key takeaway: The economic ripples continue to widen as more businesses are forced to close their doors. The lines between essential and non-essential businesses, roles, and individuals are becoming more refined as more jurisdictions enact tighter restrictions. Work with HR to understand how tightened restrictions will impact your stakeholders, and plan workloads and remote collaboration accordingly.

Virus 101: Hunting for the COVID-19 virus

  • There are currently two methods to detect the COVID-19 virus in patient samples: nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) and serological assays.
  • Specimens collected to detect the COVID-19 virus from respiratory materials include:
    • Upper respiratory: nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs
    • Lower respiratory: sputum, endotracheal aspirates, or bronchoalveolar lavage
  • The NAAT method can identify the presence of COVID-19 virus in collected samples because the genomic sequence of the COVID-19 virus is already available. Hence by homing in on genes and sequences specific only to the COVID-19 virus, these tests will confirm whether an individual is infected with the virus.
  • Another method to detect the presence of viral infection is using serological assays that look for evidence of an immune response.
  • Bottom line: Respiratory specimens in combination with nucleic acid amplification tests are used to detect COVID-19 virus. The more tests that are done to hunt down this virus and track its movement, the better public health officials can plan for its containment and mobilize health care resources accordingly. This will be crucial in turning the tide against COVID-19.

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