For more than a year, we’ve seen constant reports about increasing coronavirus cases and related deaths. Beginning in February 2021, we’re starting to see consistent downturn in those trends in nearly every state in the U.S. However, even with a reduction in new cases, the U.S. is still facing – at the time of this writing – more than 27 million total cases, and the ongoing spread of the pandemic is far from over.
According to a recent USA Today report, we’re seeing restrictions unchanged, lifting, or easing in 33 states across the country. However, as of late February state restrictions for business operations have tightened in nine states. Business reopening has paused in nine states as well. Looking at these trends tells us that even as we start to move in the right direction, businesses across the U.S. will be facing ongoing challenges for the foreseeable future as the COVID-19 variants continue to cause infection rates to swing up and down.
Challenges for businesses looking to reopen safely
Businesses have been struggling to meet the demands of public health and safety measures during the pandemic. In recent conversations I’ve had with leaders in both private and public sector organizations across the U.S. it’s become apparent that they’ve all been experiencing similar challenges, including:
- Tracking rules and regulations around public health and safety measures
- Collecting and managing detailed information about their facilities status
- Implementing safety measures necessary for compliance
- Communicating requirements and next steps to employees and customers
Beyond the adherence to public health and safety measures for their physical structures – many organizations are also faced with the task of tracking the health and status of their employees, including gathering information on COVID testing availability, vaccination eligibility, and more.
A closer look at the business impact of COVID-19
The impacts of COVID-19 risks and restrictions vary dependent on industry. If your employees must be on-site at a place of business, you must comply with workplace safety guidelines, which vary from state to state.
A good example of this type of business is manufacturing or distribution management. As you think about having a manufacturing line that is mission-critical for your company to deliver your product, you can quickly imagine the potential negative impact both to your staff and to your business if one infected employee comes on-site and you are not prepared to easily track and react to protect the rest of your staff. What’s more your ability to maintain operational continuity can be compromised if that one employee infects many others.
Keeping up with regulatory changes and restrictions
In January 2021 the Biden administration released an executive order on protecting worker health and safety. While we have seen individual states take action to enact additional workplace safety restrictions, this appears to be the first move from the new President toward additional federal direction for how companies in the U.S. need to expand protections in places of business. We anticipate additional federal involvement in the workplace safety guidelines and mandates coming out in the next few months. Keeping up with the shifting sands of regulations, rules, and restrictions for COVID related public health and safety is a consistent challenge, but one for which there are solutions.
Closing the safety gap
As the response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, governments need clear mechanisms to communicate public health and safety requirements to businesses. Businesses need easy to use tracking tools to collect and centralize what steps they are taking to ensure the safety of their employees and customers. By focusing on these two core elements of a solution, the U.S. will take great steps towards closing the safety gap that currently exists. By closing the gap, we can simultaneously address the public health crisis and the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Learn more about how CGI is helping businesses, academic institutions and government entities ReOpen and StayOpen amidst this current crisis:
Visit CGI's ReOpen/StayOpen portal