Resources & Insights

How Businesses Can Help Slow the Spread of Coronavirus

March 12, 2020

Spencer Mahoney,
Executive Vice President

What can a business owner do to help slow, if not prevent, the spread of the virus? Here’s a quick checklist:

  • First, it’s a good time to review, test and, if necessary, update plans related to business continuity, crisis management and crisis communications. You can click here for our Coronavirus Risk Management Guide.
  • Most obviously, travel outside of the U.S. at the moment is best avoided, especially to places that include China and Italy.
  • Continue to keep a close eye on news reports, especially updates from the CDC and other public health bodies, and make sure your employees are informed about what’s happening. If things get more serious here in the U.S., be prepared to order as many of your people as you can to work from home. In fact, make sure your leadership team has identified key operations and ways to keep them going with big chunks of your staff out sick.
  • Anticipate and prepare for breakdowns in government services, including sanitation, water and power.

Employee Leave Requirements

If an employee, or an employee’s family member, contracts COVID-19, the employee may be entitled to time off from work under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). An illness like COVID-19 may qualify as a serious health condition under the FMLA if it involves inpatient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider. Employees may also be entitled to FMLA leave when taking time off for medical examinations to determine whether a serious health condition exists.

Many states and localities also have employee leave laws that could apply in a situation where the employee or family member contracts COVID-19. Some of these laws require employees to be given paid time off, while other laws require unpaid leave. Employers should become familiar with the laws in their jurisdiction to ensure that they are compliant.

IRS OKs HDHP Coverage of Coronavirus Testing

In a move welcomed both by employers and employees, the IRS issued Notice 2020-15, which allows high deductible health plans, or HDHPs, to pay for COVID-19 testing and treatment before the plan’s deductible is met. In its notice, the IRS also explained that, as in the past, any vaccination costs continue to count as preventive care.

Many states, meanwhile, are directing or encouraging health insurance companies to cover COVID-19 testing and treatment without any cost-sharing.

COVID-19 is a recordable illness

Elsewhere, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reminded employers that incidents of employees contracting COVID-19 at work are recordable illnesses, subject to the same rules and failure-to-record fines as other workplace injuries and illnesses.

OSHA doesn’t require employers to record incidents of employees contracting common colds and the flu in the workplace, but that’s not the case with COVID-19, it said.

Despite the low risk of exposure in most job sectors, some workers may have been exposed to infectious people, including travelers who contracted COVID-19 abroad. Workers with increased exposure risk include those involved in:

  • Healthcare (including pre-hospital and medical transport workers, healthcare providers, clinical laboratory personnel, and support staff).
  • Deathcare (including coroners, medical examiners, and funeral directors).
  • Airline operations.
  • Waste management.

Just what happens next, including how long and far this coronoavirus spreads, is impossible to tell. The outbreak could be short-lived, or not. Either way, remember to let your people know what you’re doing and what they should do. Communication will be key to keeping people calm, safe and focused.

Spencer Mahoney is CCIG’s Executive Vice President. Reach him at 720-212-2051 or

CCIG is a Denver-area insurance, employee benefits and surety brokerage with clients nationwide. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We help you manage your long-term cost of insurance with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.

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