how is your office responding to coronavirus?

How is your company responding to coronavirus?

Let’s discuss in the comments.

And some useful info:

{ 1,143 comments… read them below }

  1. JessP*

    Hi Everyone! Clincial librarian at your service.

    Alison’s got it linked, but I wanted to mention again that the CDC doesn’t just offer guidance for hospitals and healthcare providers; they have guidance for schools, businesses, and higher ed as well. Professional organizations—the American Library Association—are also providing guidance and example plans.

    My library is subject to University closures and directives from the Dean of Libraries, so our plan focuses on how to operate with minimal staffing, including calling in procedures, how many staff should be in the building, who can make the call to close, etc.

    1. JessP*

      Here’s the what ALA recommends including in a pandemic response plan, which I think could translate well to other business types:
      >Criteria for closing the library
      >Employee policies for sick leave, payroll and banking/financial issues, working from home
      >Mandated documentation of procedures or cross training so others can take over for sick employees.
      >Policies for social distancing — that is, removing a number of chairs so people aren’t sitting close to each other, or limiting the number of people who can come in at any one time, or taking out coat racks, and similar things that keep people and their belongings separate from each other.
      >Criteria for suspending programming
      >Provision of masks and gloves along with the training of staff iin their removal and disposal.
      >Standards for the cleaning of bathrooms, railings and door knobs, telephones, keyboards, counters, and cleaning of workstations/offices of employees who go home sick, emptying of wastebaskets, etc. etc. etc.
      >Setting a schedule for seeing to the critical needs of the facility if the library is closed for an extended time (boiler and building checks by custodians, book drop, payroll and banking considerations).
      >Communications plan for reaching staff and for communicating with the public
      >Means for continuing to provide information services for the public, such as online ordering of materials and pick up from a table in the lobby at certain times, or expansion of online services
      >Accommodation of the needs of poor people in the community who may not have a home subscription to the local newspaper or a working home computer
      >Education of the public in advance of an epidemic

      1. JS*

        Came here for library-specific advice. Thanks! All we’d come up with so far is setting out hand sanitizer at the circulation desk/seating areas and wiping down surfaces daily.

        1. Also a JS*

          Ditto. We’re a publisher based in a University Library so all of this is super helpful.

          1. Library Student*

            To say that the sanitizer at the front desk has been very low is an understatement. I am only a student worker at my university library, but we’ve all been cleaning like mad people!

            1. Deborah*

              We’ve moved sanitizer behind the desk to staff-use only: library users can go and use the soap in the toilets which is more effective than sanitiser anyway. We have had to have words with our cleaning contractors about making sure the soap stays well-filled.

              In other preparations, I’ve got an order in to replace desktop machines (for the staff who still have them) with laptops, so everyone in theory will be able to work from home in the event of either personal self-isolation/quarantine or whole-campus shutdown. This was easier than I expected because we lease all our machines anyway; but it is still a wait of a few weeks so I’m just hoping there are no supply line issues.

              Most importantly I think, my workplace already has a good sick-leave policy and culture. We still need to reinforce with people that when they’re in that “I’m starting to feel better and don’t want to let the team down so I’ll go back to work even though I’m still coughing a bit” stage, they need to *stay home* and, if they insist, work from there (at least until they get tired because actually they’re not really better yet. Not that I’m guilty of this myself…..).

    2. Mama Bear*

      Watching, but no approved telework or policies at this time other than the standard if you are sick, please stay home.

      1. Autumnheart*

        Same.

        Lots of infuriating conversation where people say things like, “More people die of the flu!” and “What’s the big deal, most people won’t even notice they have it.”

        Yeah. China quarantined millions of people with an arrest-on-sight curfew, and stopped their economy on a dime, because of a bug most people won’t even notice they have. Italy just quarantined their financial district and announced that triage measures would be put in place for hospital beds, because of a bug that’s not as bad as the flu. Sure. That’s why we go through this every single year during flu season! OH WAIT, WE FUCKING DON’T.

        1. pamela voorhees*

          To be clear, those people aren’t wrong — most people won’t notice they have it, but it’s also simultaneously still a big deal. For example, my father lives in Miami, which has a population of 463,347. 16% of folks in Miami are over 65 years old (74,135) and if 15% of those people get a severe case of COVID-19 (it affects folks who are 65+ more than other age groups) we need roughly 11,120 hospital beds for them. Miami Valley Hospital has about 850 beds. This is in addition to the normal needs of the hospital. An individual will probably get through coronavirus just fine. A society will have a much, much harder time.

          1. pamela voorhees*

            I double checked because I couldn’t remember seeing signs for Miami Valley Hospital when I visited him and I’ve realized that it is in Dayton, OH, not Miami, FL. Google autocomplete has yet again made me look quite the fool. For an actual example, Jackson Memorial Hospital has 1,550 beds. My point still stands though.

          2. Aquawoman*

            So, the USA, which runs on the mythos of individualism, needs to recognize the needs of our society? What could go wrong?

            1. pamela voorhees*

              The empty toilet paper palettes at Costco are a testament to how upsettingly right you are.

          3. Long-time reader*

            Not to mention number of beds (assuming they are adequate) does not equal number of respirators.

            And seasonal flus are things we already know a lot about and have lots of experience with. This virus is still an unknown. So we are not as equipped to predict what will happen. Human beings, like stock markets, don’t cope well with the unknown. Anyone who has been paying attention to scientists who’ve been saying it’s a matter of -when- not if we’ll have a pandemic in the future, are legitimately worried. At least I am. Not running through the streets panicking, but definitely more cautious about taking unnecessary risks.

            1. TardyTardis*

              We have an oxygen generator in the house already for my husband for night time (multiple medical issues), and we plan to hang onto it tooth and nail–if he comes down with it, having it may help him stay home (and we don’t know how many respirators our local hospital already has).

              But our county is fairly remote and rural–one presumptive case from travel–and is really deep in denial. This does make shopping easier, though.

        2. Diahann Carroll*

          THANK YOU! I said the same thing – this is not like the flu, and people need to stop saying that shit. Don’t panic, but don’t be misleading either.

        3. PVR*

          Right if 80% of cases are mild… that means 20% are not. Current #s are about 15% severe, 5% critical. And with mortality rates anywhere from 1-3+%, we are still talking about significantly higher fatality rates than the flu.

        4. Deborah*

          One of the key differences is that society as a whole already has a lot of immunity to flu because lots of people have already had it. That immunity slows the spread of it to people who aren’t immune, so you get a fairly low number of cases at any given time, so it’s business-as-usual.

          No-one’s got any immunity to Covid-19, so it can basically infect everyone all at once, and we don’t have the facilities to deal with that. That’s why it’s so important to slow the spread by washing hands, etc – if fewer people are infected *at any given time* then society can cope better even if everyone gets infected in the end.

    3. pamela voorhees*

      A fellow clinical librarian here who just wants to add one more resource — Ready.gov has information about how to prepare for disasters & emergencies for individuals and for businesses. No COVID-specific information, but a great resource for general topics like “what resources should we think about in an EAP” or “what should an emergency plan look like?”

        1. pamela voorhees*

          You’re very sweet, thank you! Medical librarians can get certain specializations, and mine is in disaster information. You hope to never use it, but I’m glad to help when I can. I also recommend MedlinePlus as a resource for accurate health information, both coronavirus-related and in general. It’s what I send to people to stop misinformation being spread.

          1. V8 Fiend*

            Seconding Medline Plus! I’m a clinical librarian for a professional association, and our biggest request lately has been consumer focused documentation – MedlinePlus is great for that!

            *I don’t work for Medline, I just really like it! :-)

      1. pamela voorhees*

        As far as what we’re doing personally, we live on the western side of Washington state and work in healthcare, so this is more in depth than what you might typically see. We already have a very generous sick leave policy (I was very ill in January and took a lot of time off, and still have roughly 23 sick days at the moment, separate from vacation) but we typically require a doctor’s note if you miss three consecutive days. We’re waiving that requirement, although you are still required to stay in contact with your supervisor. We’re also providing hand sanitizer and wipes to any staff who wants them, as well as face masks for our clinicians (I cannot emphasize enough that you should not buy face masks, since there’s a limited supply and that means less for doctors, nurses, and other clinicians who need them!). There’s required temperature taking before entering some of our facilities as well (certain wards with a lot of very ill patients, the nursing home, etc). We’re also discussing work from home policies, although our culture is strongly against it so that’s an uphill battle. The generous sick leave policy is really our secret weapon, though.

        1. BekaAnne*

          I’m in the UK – so it’s all a bit different. But we have an excellent sick pay facility.

          We’re all using laptops and the company is encouraging people to work from home if they feel in any way unwell. If you need to quarantine, do it. If your laptop is in the office, they will courier it out to you so that you do not have to come get it.

          No business travel that is not critical – and so far, management have deemed none as critical even though we work in a healthcare adjacent area. Move back to disposable plates, utensils, etc., so that risk of infection is minimized even if someone is a carrier or is not aware that they have been exposed. Anti-bac wipes readily available for desks and computers.

          They’re looking at changing the statutory sick pay rules as well so that you’re paid from day 1 and not day 3, and changing the rules for doctors notes – as doctors are encouraging people not to attend surgeries unless truly necessary.

          To be fair, they have had this in place for flu as well and general sickness. Given the air-con and the shared spaces, they’ve always encouraged us to work from home if we aren’t well, and to actually call in sick if we think we may need to. It’s better to take a day or two off now than struggle through and need more time off later.

          The weird thing though is that we track illness through the Bradford Score – B= S² x D where
          B = Bradford factor score
          S = total number of spells (instances) of absence for that individual in the given period
          D = total number of days the individual was absent during the given period
          That’s starting to take a bit of a hit as we’ve have some people call in ill with flu like symptoms (not C-19 just colds) but I think we may need to suspend this for the foreseeable as it drives a warning system for absenteeism.

    4. Yukimura*

      I work at a theme park in Japan.
      We’ve closed officially from February 29th to March 15th, but there is no telling if we’ll actually be opening on the 16th.
      Employees are coming in regularly, cast are doing rehearsals, etc, everyone being paid—just no guests.
      Our theater is going to be SO sparkly clean by the end of all this.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        That sounds like my job’s dream. Everything clean and trimmed and sparkling.

    5. Nerdy Library Clerk*

      Public library, in a state with a few cases (including one in our city).
      We’ve had emails about hand washing and staying home if sick (though nothing about what to do if you run out of sick time or are one of the part timers who doesn’t *have* sick time). We’re wiping everything down a lot more and wearing gloves/washing our hands even more than usual. But that’s about it.
      I’m hoping that behind the scenes they’re thinking about what to do if more cases happen here, etc, but the front line staff isn’t in the know if they are.

      1. AuroraLight37*

        Same here. Basically, “Don’t panic and we’re not issuing gloves or face masks for library staff.” So, yeah, not much help, especially for substitutes. I have noticed people using hand sanitizer more at work, and more hand washing. I was helping a patron who was talking and exhaled some saliva on my hand, yuck) so I went and washed as soon as I was done with him. I would have done it anyway, but I did feel a bit more tense about it.

        1. boxfish*

          Same here from a public library worker in the UK. We’ve just got signs out reminding people to wash their hands and use tissues, basically (and tbh i feel like if you were going to do those things anyway, you don’t need a sign, and if you weren’t, a sign isn’t going to change your mind!). We’ve not heard anything from management about library closure plans or anything, so who knows.

    6. Gov Worker*

      We get daily update emails from public health. All outside of Canada business travel is cancelled. Anyone coming back from travelling in Hubei province in China has to go into mandatory 14 day quarantine. Anyone coming back from any of the other highly affected countries or areas has to go into 14 day quarantine if they show signs of any illness. Quarantine pay is separate paid time off that does not affect regular PTO or sick days.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I love that your company is doing quarantine pay – that should ensure people who have traveled to affected areas actually take the quarantine seriously and stay their behinds home because they’re not going to lose out on pay or vacation time.

    7. Thankful for AAM*

      Also librarian; public, city run library.

      We actually have a full, pandemic policy for the library, as well as for the city, that spell out all the things Jess P mentioned.

      What I especially like at my city:
      -a strong “stay at home if you are sick” message backed by support if you don’t get or have sick leave left.
      -an option to work away from the public is your health needs that (but no work from home option)
      -a very well organized but simple communication system. Each manager has their staffs contact and emergency contact info and we have our manager’s contact info given to us on a half sheet of paper spelling out the communications policy. If we close, there is a citywide phone number to call with a recorded message that tells me what to do. My only real responsibility is to call that number each day by x time.

      As for daily details:
      We have wipes and sanitizer out for staff and we are being encouraged to hand wash often. We are also wiping down public keyboards and desks 2 additional times a day. We also have gloves for staff to use as touching lots of books, library cards that were just in a patron’s mouth, etc are gross.

    8. Miso*

      I also work at a public library, but in Europe.
      Town Hall put up signs that we’re not shaking hands anymore (like we ever did that…), but that’s it.
      We already have hand disinfectants in the bathrooms anyway and they did try to get some for the doors, but of course everything was sold out already…

      We don’t have to worry about sick days luckily and we all wash hands pretty often anyway, so basically, nothing changed.

    9. Oxford Comma*

      Another librarian here.

      I have heard very little about what our actual library system has in the way of a plan, which makes me nervous.

      The university itself is doing all kinds of things. They’ve restricted nonessential travel to a bunch of countries, recalled students from study abroad. No word on spring break restrictions for students.

      Colleagues at several other universities have shared that they’re not supposed to travel at all.

    10. Ravenclaw*

      Library administrator in a state with a few cases. Given the overall sad state of our infrastructure, is anyone surprised that we don’t have a crisis response plan and I’m now drafting one? I wish we could communicate more, but we need to follow municipal leadership on this, and they are being quite slow.

  2. Construction Safety*

    They are discussing it ad nauseum.

    But, like most things, they won’t actually do anything.

    Hell, we had a guy come into the office with an open staph sore on his leg. <>

    1. I LOVE BIG BROTHER*

      Yeah, I look forward to the inevitable “can anyone work from home?” “no, literally none of our programs work if you try to log on from home, plus I have no printer” conversation like we had during the great smokeout of 2018.

    2. jamberoo*

      EEK.
      I once worked for an optometrist who insisted an employee with pink eye continue to come in. They hid him in the back lab where patients couldn’t see him. His job was unwrapping, RX verifying, and repackaging received glasses orders…

        1. jamberoo*

          Yeah. I hope they didn’t wonder why I did not go to them for my eye appts after changing jobs.

        2. Ego Chamber*

          Well, I for one feel far less unhinged for my habit of wiping down my new pair of glasses with 91% rubbing alcohol and then cleaning the lenses like normal before I wear them for the first time, so. O_o

        1. MusicWithRocksIn*

          Well – to be fair pink eye is a lot more contagious. You can almost catch it from hearing about someone else getting it.

    3. Blow it into a tissue*

      Even in this day and age, I still see a dude at work who comes into the bathroom and blows his nose into the sink, one nostril at a time, and leaves without washing his hands. I don’t know who he works because we have several thousand employees.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Oh gross. I get slightly squicked by people brushing their teeth in the office bathroom, and that’s actually a normal activity.

        One place I worked half the people didn’t even hit the sink for a sham rince, much less actually wash their hands. That place gave me pneumonia.

      2. Ego Chamber*

        And you’ve never once involuntarily yelled at him “What the fuck man wash your hands!” I couldn’t.

    4. SondersonMC*

      Our company had just announced that all meetings with more than 50 people are cancelled.
      Take Our Kids to Work Day is also cancelled.
      National Meetings are cancelled.

      And there are signs at every entrance saying “if you feel sick, or have the following symptoms, do not enter the building, and return home”

      1. Det. Charles Boyle*

        SondersonMC, wow, are you located in one of the hot spots? My employer sent out an email on Friday saying they are monitoring the situation, and, that’s it. So, wait and see . . . (I’m located in Virginia, not a hot spot — yet).

      2. TrainerGirl*

        We had a meeting last week where we were told that if someone came in sick, they would be making other people “uncomfortable”. Yeah, that’s a dictate right there. And of course allergy season is upon us (Mid-Atlantic state), which means some people are going to be freaking out every time someone sneezes or blows their nose.

        1. Lauren*

          Our office is taking it seriously and even our clients told us not to fly to them, but our other office isn’t and people have traveled and got sick and are not staying home.

    5. A tester, not a developer*

      At least at my office the woman with MRSA told me she had it (despite our boss telling her not to!) so we wouldn’t go to the same meetings/use the same workspaces/etc.; I’m immunocompromised, so that was exciting.

    6. KaciHall*

      My job is discussing it. But only as a Democrat conspiracy theory and how they can’t believe people are buying into it. At least, that was the conversation between the owner/head boss and the office manager.

      It’s going to be GREAT once the schools here quarantine and close like the ones a few counties over! None of us in my department are set up to work at home, though in theory most of us could. (Except the two people that love in the boonies and don’t have internet at home because it’s not worth it for as show and expensive as it is.)

        1. KaciHall*

          I live in a VERY red area and the owners think I’m crazy for not openly during Trump. I’m not even openly DISAGREEING, I just didn’t share the opinion that the impeachment process was a witch-hunt.

          I’ve gotten very used to being quiet about my political leanings since I went to high school here, but it is getting harder and harder. This isn’t political, it’s reality. They think it’s a Gambit to get the election because there’s a pandemic every election year. I tried pointing out that China PROBABLY doesn’t share an election cycle with us, but it’s like debating a brick wall.

          1. Melly*

            I just saw my former daycare provider post this meme and what the fucked all over the place.

            1. pancakes*

              It’s horrifying that someone with such senseless views on virus transmission is involved in daycare. I was going to say I think it’s very much worth warning other people in the community about that somehow, at the very least with a review on all platforms the daycare is listed on, but if the community doesn’t mind leaving its kids in the care of people who live in a parallel universe of their own warped imagination . . .

              1. Gazebo Slayer*

                Yep. I’d almost be more worried about kids being exposed to people that disconnected from reality than I would about them being exposed to coronavirus! (Which is fortunately mild in children.)

        2. Nita*

          I just heard this BS from a family member yesterday. It’s spreading. The funny thing is, they couldn’t make up their mind if it’s a Republican conspiracy (to bring China down) or a Democrat conspiracy (to make Trump look bad). Pointed out to them that we’ve had at least three outbreaks of new viruses in the last several years, and that many of the affected countries’ leaders are old enough to be the prime risk group. May have been a wasted effort, since this person is not known for using their head outside of their workplace.

          1. pancakes*

            I don’t think people adroitly shift between lucid and senseless thinking that way.

      1. GreenDoor*

        Umm….last I checked, viruses don’t care who you vote for, what religion, you practice, or how much money you have. Oh! And they also diregard those imaginary lines known as “borders of countries.” How do people not understand this?

        1. Ego Chamber*

          The people who think it’s a conspiracy think the virus isn’t real. They’re on a similar level to the people who believe school shootings are faked to hurt the gun industry. You know, the “crisis actors” folks. It’s gross.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            Good thing patients’ names are confidential, or the kind of monsters who harass the Sandy Hook kids’ parents would probably be harassing them too. :-(

          2. rigger42*

            Then there are the people who concede it might be real, but insist that “Bill Gates’ Wuhan lab” released it into the wild. My parents heard this fifth hand at a cocktail party so it has to be true!

        2. Gazebo Slayer*

          Sadly, they do in some ways care how much money you have. Poor people are going to be affected a lot more by this, considering their frequent lack of affordable medical insurance or sick leave.

    7. esra*

      Yep, this is us, too. Despite a large number of staff being able to do their jobs from home, our ceo just doesn’t like it so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      We haven’t made any strides whatsoever beyond a more comprehensive hand-washing poster in some of the bathrooms.

      1. Blackbelt Jones*

        Same re: working from home, except at a “non-profit”.

        (Also, no extra cleaning done or supplies available *or* hand-washing poster!)

    8. always a nurse*

      I know it’s gross, but an “open staph sore” is vastly less contagious that any respiratory illness. The patient would have to be actively touching the wound and then touching surfaces in the office, which you would then have touch, and have a break in your skin to allow the staph bacteria in, or get it in your nose/mouth via your hand. Even if it were methicillin resistant Staph (MRSA) you’d pretty much need direct contact with the wound.

      1. Construction Safety*

        Mostly agree, but we work in construction, scuffs, nicks, etc are the norm and he was wearing sort. It was oozing and nasty.

    9. pancakes*

      Who are “they” here, and what exactly would you prefer them to do? A government employee stationed outside your office to inspect workers for sores, coughing, etc? A consultant hired by your office?

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        Given the context, I would imagine “they” are “the big bosses/management at my job.”

  3. Alice*

    Anyone have suggestions about advocating effectively for vendors to offer reasonable sick time policies?

    1. Alice*

      Meaning, not my own employers, but vendors that contract with my employer and don’t offer enough sick time to their staff.

      1. The Bad Guy*

        I think the most effective thing you can do is keep vendors off site and make sure they have the tools to do work for you remotely. There’s really no way to bully another company into giving their employees paid sick time but you can make it easy for them to wfh.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          ‘Vendor’ can be very hands-on. Here, it includes our facilities management company, security services, the corporate cafeteria, and an in-house temp coordinator. By the nature of those roles, only one person of 20 could possibly work offsite.

        2. pancakes*

          To the contrary, putting certain requirements in a RFP—paid sick time for employees, for example—could be a very effective way for companies to influence vendor practices without “bullying.” It wouldn’t work retroactively, but it’s something people should think about going forward.

      2. Random Thought*

        This isn’t an instantaneous solution, but it’s something to consider in your vendor selection/contracting process going forward. Mandating a certain minimum pay/minimum level of benefits is smart and not uncommon, especially today when companies can face reputational damage – because contract workers don’t always distinguish who the employer is when they complain… and just in general, “I work on a contract for Company X” – people will hear and remember “Company X.” When you rely on managed resources, you also have an interest in retaining those contract employees so it’s not a revolving door (i.e. think of the benefits of a security guard who has been around for a long time… who can recognize who does AND does not belong, can recognize unusual behavior, i.e. hostile employee, and knows when things are unusual (locked door left ajar, etc.). So asking the company to incentivize people saying around adds value even if it also increases the price of your contract.

      3. Sally*

        It’s really good to hear that people are thinking about this kind of situation. A good friend of mine is a dog walker, and since so many people are working from home, she’s losing income. And there’s not a lot she can do about it except try to get new clients. I worry about people like her who are rideshare drivers, delivery drivers, etc.

        1. Emelle*

          My neighbor is a pet sitter and she picked up hours by letting her clients that are in our neighborhood know that she had a 15 minute window for “work call walks”. Basically you give her 15 minute heads up and she will swoop in like a Puppy Mary Poppins and take your dog out for a bit. Basically she shifted the time of her walks- and some people that don’t usually use her because they always work from home are using her now with this plan. (But she is really strict about the 15 minutes and will not take anyone that she can’t get to their house in that window.)

  4. Mel_05*

    Mostly just with horrified fascination that people haven’t been washing their hands till now.

    If things get bad in our area my whole office can probably work from home. But so far there are only 3 cases in our state and none are close by.

    1. Jaybeetee*

      Right?? I have very mixed feelings about the realization that apparently I’m “ahead of the curve” on the whole handwashing thing. Who *are* these people??

      Canada is still minimally affected – I believe just about every case so far has been people who had recently travelled to more affected countries, and their SOs. AFAIK, there are only cases in three cities and not where I live. I have noticed it’s harder to find hand sanitizer lately, and someone actually stole a package of toilet paper out of my trunk that I hadn’t brought up to my apartment yet (my car was broken into for the first time last week! Yay!). But no directives at my workplace so far.

        1. Jaybeetee*

          Well, I’m assuming someone broke into my car for whatever they could find (not uncommon in my city, but had never happened to me before). Took off with a little ashtray of change I keep in the drivers’ console, rifled thru my glove box, and took the TP. I guess junkies need toilet paper too?

        2. Peep*

          The Costcos in LA county (especially I think Woodland Hills?) are bizarrely like…. zombie apocalypse / earthquake level of out of toilet paper every day. A few days ago a FB friend of mine posted a picture of a -line- to get into Costco in the morning. I’m pretty sure nobody needs that much toilet paper, please calm yourselves. All the drug stores in my area have signs at the front saying “out of face masks, don’t ask” and most are out of hand sanitizer — the guy at CVS said people cleared him out of a restock in like two hours. There’s a difference between being prepared and being insane, and it doesn’t help if everyone can’t be clean because some nutballs are hoarding the supplies away from them.

          1. em_eye*

            I went to like 6 stores looking for hand sanitizer yesterday. Every place was out. I’m only mildly freaked out by coronavirus but I’m about to start a long stint of work travel so I wanted to stock up while I still could. I was finally able to get my hands on some hydrogen peroxide and some “all-natural” wipes I’m very skeptical of.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              The peroxide is a good alternative to the wipes and if 91% or even 70% running alcohol is sold out where you are. I’d take both with me if I were you when you travel (put the peroxide in a travel size spray bottle) and just spray your wipes before use, and you should be fine.

              1. fposte*

                70% is apparently more effective than 91% anyway–opinions differ as to whether it’s the evaporation rate being slower or the water actually penetrating surfaces better.

                1. Diahann Carroll*

                  Yeah, it’s the evaporation rate per the comment below (above?). I use both, and when using 91%, just spray a ton of it on and keep applying it for a straight minute (and then wash hands with soap and water as soon as I get home).

              2. Eukomos*

                70% alcohol is better, the 91% evaporates faster and the amount of time the alcohol stays on your hands correlates to how many microbes it kills. Anything over 60% is strong enough to disinfect, so once you’ve passed that threshold higher isn’t really better.

                1. KoiFeeder*

                  And never spill 100% or leave it open to evaporate, or the entire high school chemistry class will get drunk and have one case of alcohol poisoning.

            2. Shad*

              Honestly, it’s not that hard to mix up some hand sanitizer from a strong alcohol source (rubbing alcohol or strong liquor will work. Ethanol vs isopropyl isn’t going to be a material difference in this context) and something to thicken it. An aloe vera after-sun gel works pretty well and is going to help reduce the drying from the alcohol. The important bit if you’re using alcohol is that the final mix needs to be at least 60% abv.

              1. Curmudgeon in California*

                If you can get 190 proof Everclear, it makes a great base for hand sanitizer. Unfortunately, my state is one that outlawed it, making it hard to get for alcohol fueled stoves and extractions and tinctures.

                However, the 120 proof variant of Everclear can be used straight, as it is 60% alcohol.

                1. MayLou*

                  Honestly, just use soap and water. It’s at least as effective, it’s cheaper and it’s less drying on your skin.

                2. Diahann Carroll*

                  The state I’m bordering sells Everclear, but I’m not sure at what proof. I didn’t even know this was a thing until last week! I could have started using that years ago and had party-time drinks as well, lol.

                3. Curmudgeon in California*

                  The only reason to use hand sanitizer is if you are not near a sink with soap. The prime examples of this are when out shopping, or using transit.

                4. Shad*

                  The strongest I found at the liquor store was 151, so the mix is a little on the thin side as far as viscosity, but it works.
                  And since this is the bottom nesting level, yes, soap and water is generally as good or better, but soap and water isn’t always a option, and hand sanitizer fills in beautifully for the circumstances when it isn’t.

            3. Peep*

              Not sure if it still applies, but one of my coworkers said she found a bunch of small bottles at the dollar store. I definitely wouldn’t have thought of going there, so they may still actually have -some-… :(

          2. gmg22*

            The thing I really thought would be prudent to buy this week was a new thermometer — my old digital one consistently says I have a temp of around 94 degrees, which I’m pretty sure is wrong — and I haven’t had any luck with that either. I happened to buy several varying-size bottles of hand sanitizer a few weeks ago, which ended up being a prescient decision.

            1. MissMaple*

              I found a thermometer in the baby section of Safeway, fyi. My toddler decided to smash his on the floor last week and all of the ones on Amazon cost $$$ now.

          3. sofar*

            My friend is a doctor and patients are calling her in a panic because they can’t buy hand sanitizer. She’s been saying, “OK do you have soap? Great! Wash your hands with it. It’s more effective anyway.”

          4. Juli G.*

            I am a very systematic shopper. At my grocery chain, a sale comes up every 6 weeks where you can get Lysol wipes for 89¢ if you buy 4. Which is what I do every other cycle. Of course, it came up this week and they were no where to be seen. I was like “I just want my normal stock! I am not trying to hoard, I am a budget conscious planner!”

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Lol that’s like me and my bleach. I wanted to get another bottle to make sure I can wash my laundry, and all the stores around me are sold out of Clorox. We don’t even have any confirmed cases in our state yet.

            2. cacwgrl*

              I do this too and now I’m like the hoarder in my workgroup. I buy several staples in bulk and if I can’t make it to the warehouse (they’re at least 90 minutes away), I’ll place an order through the app. So last week I ordered TP, towels, wipes and laundry soap, like I do nearly every 6 weeks. When I mentioned it to my coworkers, you would have thought I was stealing from their kids! I literally pulled my app up, which tracks my orders in store and online to prove that I am not hoarding any more than usual! My order that shipped in from out of town is not the reason Wal-Mart does not have TP and towels and milk! There is no milk to be found in my town today. No idea why, but all three grocery stores, the dollar stores, the Wal-mart, all out. We had milk during and immediately following the quakes, but are suddenly out of it now… So strange.

              1. Alexandra Lynch*

                I make the joke that there is a secret ritual in this area of the country: whenever bad weather is expected, everyone has to make French Toast. Because instantly, even if it is an inch of snow in the middle of winter and we get snow every winter, everyone rushes to the store and buys all the milk, bread, and eggs.

                To this end, I keep powdered milk, yeast, and four cartons of eggs in the fridge. Of course I keep plenty of food in the house, and even if I couldn’t get to the store for next week’s planned food, I could easily come up with something based on the freezer’s contents. And I always have extra cat food and litter. I can go hungry, but the Daughter of Chaos (her name is Nyx) cannot.

            3. pamela voorhees*

              When I went to Target, they had all of their cleaning supplies on display in the front. I thought, cool! You’re right, Target, I should buy more Oxyclean and Lysol wipes! And then I got to the checkout line, realized what my cart looked like, and immediately thought, oh no, I am the problem.

          5. SpaceySteph*

            Yeah everyone at my costco this weekend was buying TP and bottled water. I’m really perplexed by the second one… do people honestly think the water supply is going to get contaminated or shut down? Or is it because we’re in a hurricane-prone area and people can’t honestly think of any other way to prep than by hoarding water?

            1. MissMaple*

              Yeah, I went to Costco to get some fruit and other staples and the panic over bottled water was baffling! Like, the level of societal breakdown that would need to happen for the water system to stop working is not something I’m even close to imaging from this situation. I have to assume it’s people here thinking about winter storms and broken pipes, but this is definitely a different situation!

              1. SuperBB*

                My theory is that our brains can only prepare for one kind of disaster. In SoCal, we hoard canned food, toilet paper, and bottle water for earthquakes. I guess we should expect to see people on the east coast hoarding milk, bread, and eggs.

                I haven’t been to Costco, but I happened to be out of TP and paper towels, and picked up both at the local grocery store. They were a little low on the store-brand TP, but had plenty of Charmin. The cleaning product aisle was decimated, though.

              2. SeluciaMD*

                Per the water thing: there are lots of articles out there (here’s one from Scientific American https://theprepared.com/wuhan-coronavirus/) that talk about how to prepare and one of the first things on that list is to make sure you have a good supply of “potable water.” I think the issue is so many people now equate potable with bottled ONLY without thinking about, you know, the water that comes out of the tap. If it ain’t Desani now it’s apparently not potable LOL.

                1. Ego Chamber*

                  Yeah, tap water is ideal. Filtered tap water if the tap water runs out of treatment chemicals (if you always filter your tap water: cool!). Bottled water is for when the taps stop working, which could happen if as many people get sick as the estimates are saying and there aren’t enough workers to keep the water facilities running.

                  Some places are already in areas where natural disasters are a non-zero concern and people there aren’t overreacting to stock up their supplies just in case. If you live somewhere where the water has gone out, you’re super aware of the possibility that it could happen again.

                2. Alexandra Lynch*

                  One of the things I intend to get for my disaster prep supplies is a large water filter that does several gallons. It’s not that I’m a “prepper”…more that at least five times in the last six years there has been a boil order somewhere in the county, because our water infrastructure is old, and fixing it properly is both expensive and apparently not glamorous enough for the city government to do .

      1. Clawfoot*

        Canada here, too — my company hosts a lot of conferences, and the latest one was cancelled. I’m waiting to hear if the next one (end of March) will be too, and I suspect it will.

        Generally speaking, I’ve noticed that there’s a MUCH higher tolerance for working from home if you’re sick or suspect you might be sick, which is nice but I have to wonder why it hasn’t been that way since the beginning. We *can* work from home, so why was it ever okay to come to work with a cold at all? We also have an open-office, “hotelling” kind of situation where nobody has an assigned desk, so there are a LOT of disinfectant wipes around.

        They’ve also limited business travel to “truly essential” trips, and if anyone takes any personal trips, they’re asked to self-quarantine at home for the recommended 14 days, working remotely for the duration.

        1. CoffeeLover*

          Ya I really hope the lasting effects of coronavirus are that company’s take a more humane stance on sick leave/working from home. If you can allow it during an epidemic, you can and should allow it always. Don’t you want to avoid spreading illness at your business every year/all the time?

      2. Lucy P*

        Can someone please explain the whole TP thing to me please. I’ve read the articles about shortages, but don’t know or understand the reasoning.

        Our state doesn’t have any cases, so the panic is at a minimum right now. Most of the stores are out of hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol and cleaning products, but we still have plenty of TP.

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          I think people assume they will have to self-quarantine (or even be publicly quarantined in some places!) for a couple of weeks. If the water and electricity stay on, the things you don’t want to run out of are food, medications, and toilet paper.

          I dunno; if I run out of tp but the water and electricity stay on I’m just gonna move to family cloth along with the cloth diapers.

          1. fposte*

            I think some of it is also just “What’s on the regular list for panic buying? Better get that.”

            1. Don't Call me Liz*

              Yeah, the usual “water, bread, eggs, milk (french toast!), and TP” that people in Atlanta do when there the slightest hint of a threat of severe weather. Took a minute at Costco yesterday for me to figure out what was going on. Sold out of TP, but we were there for paper towels so we were fine.

              1. Lucy P*

                Well, about an hour after my post, the state got its first presumptive case.

                4 hours later, local Sams club is out of TP.

                1. Gazebo Slayer*

                  Oddly, there appears to be no shortage of TP here in Boston, even though we have a cluster of cases (and actually had our first case back in early February). I’m not sure whether our stores are just really well stocked or if people here are just really chill and blase.

              2. SpaceySteph*

                I grew up in South Florida and now live in Houston, so our normal disaster stock up is hurricane related– batteries, water, canned food. Its been a weird mental exercise to consider that tap water and power are probably not high on the list of things to go, so I can stock up on frozen foods and eggs… and probably don’t need 5 cases of water.

      3. Steve*

        I have heard (from someone who researches this stuff) that Canadian cases are mostly coming from the U.S. now. This is likely because most Canadians are travelling to/from the U.S. (a lot more trips are to the U.S. than China, Italy, and/or Iran – China and Iran seemed to be the major concern in Jan / Feb, from people who had been visiting family over the holidays, but those concerns seem to be much less now). It’s also likely because the U.S. has awful sick leave policies and I suspect the virus will spread quickly there, which impacts their neighbours.

      4. Blerpborp*

        I wash my hands what I consider to be a normal amount but I’ve never been someone too worried about germs (whatever the opposite of a germaphobe is) so I’m definitely washing my hands more and using hand sanitizer a lot more when I can’t wash. My mom is a compulsive hand washer and my dad has never been that much of a hand washer so I had a 50/50 chance. Of course I keep telling him to start since he is almost 80 and really doesn’t need to catch anything let alone Coronavirus but also…try to get someone who’s almost 80 to do anything they don’t want to, it’s not easy!

    2. kz*

      To be fair, this is a level of handwashing that most people don’t normally practice. For instance, I’ve been trying to make sure to wash my hands whenever I arrive anywhere after taking public transportation, whenever I get home after being out and about in public, after going to classrooms and other shared spaces etc (in addition, of course, to washing after using the bathroom etc.). Maybe I should normally do that during flu season anyway, but it’s not like I WASN’T washing my hands before, just not quite as much.

      1. londonedit*

        Yes, same. Obviously I’ve always washed my hands after using the loo, and before preparing food, but now I’m making sure I wash my hands every time I come into the office after being outdoors or in other parts of the building, after I’ve been to any meetings, and again when I get home from work in the evening.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          “Obviously …”

          Not that obviously, unfortunately. I saw a thread going around Twitter about how there are now lines in the mens room because dudes are apparently using the sinks for like the first time ever. My brother confirmed that he’s never seen guys lining up to wash their hands in public bathrooms before this. (Ewwww.)

        2. CrystalMaven*

          I work at Mccormick Place throughout the year at conferences. I’ve consistently seen women exit the bathroom without washing their hands. Some didn’t even look at the sink. Many, while seeing me wash my hands, would turn on the water, put their fingers under for three seconds and shake. Lots of these people were doctors. I am NOT shocked by the spread in the US. People don’t take basic precautions.

      2. Risha*

        Exactly. I’ve always been washing my hands after using the bathroom or when they were dirty, now I’ve been washing them a little more often and begrudgingly doing it for longer.

      3. Amy Sly*

        I do love the variations on how to wash your hands … “wash them like you’ve just been chopping jalapenos and you need to put your contacts in” or the version of the CDC instructions captioned with Lady McBeth’s “Out damn spot” monologue.

      4. Maybe I'm gross?*

        Yeah, this.

        And when I pay attention when I wash my hands after seeing one of those graphics about the spots that people commonly miss when they wash their hands I’m like… yeah, the way I wash my hands on autopilot (because I’ve done it thousands of times in my adult life and don’t think about it much) is probably less than totally thorough in some of those spots.

      5. zora*

        I actually always do those things, every time I arrive anywhere, especially after getting off of public transportation, all year round. Once it becomes a habit it’s pretty automatic, and I don’t really want to get sick any time of the year.

      6. MusicWithRocksIn*

        I am luckily ahead of the curve here because with a baby in diapers and a dog with ringworm I pretty much exist in a state of constantly washing my hands. Yeay me! But I am trying to be way more careful about touching my face. And in case anyone is having extreme dry hand difficulties- I have found the very old fashioned wearing gloves to bed has worked like magic. Put some thick lotion on then cotton gloves and in the morning your hands don’t look like an old washer ladies.

        1. Deborah*

          In gardening season I wash my hands more and get dry skin, so my routine then is to wash-then-moisturise – works fairly well.

    3. Talia*

      Bear in mind that America isn’t actually doing a whole lot of testing, so “only 3 cases in our state” is likely deceptive– authorities think it was circulating in Washington state for several weeks before they actually noticed it.

      1. Gotta Wonder*

        My household has been joking that we might have already had it – all of us were sick with an upper respiratory bug during January. In my case, it ended up as bronchitis (I have a history of bronchitis, but this was the first time after about 20 years). We’re all better now, but we wonder if somehow it didn’t already blow through our area…

        1. BadWolf*

          That came through our area too — lots of coworkers sick at the beginning of January with an upper respiratory type thing.

          1. everlong*

            Yeah, I’ve been kinda wondering if I had it in January, too. I got really sick. But I wasn’t having breathing issues, so I figure not? But I don’t know.

            1. AGD*

              I’m feeling this way as well. I was sick for two weeks in early February after travelling to England, but figured it was ‘bad cold’ territory, not ‘flu-like symptoms’.

            2. Eukomos*

              This was a bad flu season way before the coronavirus got out of China, so it was probably that.

        2. Anax*

          Yep. I’m on week 3 of self-isolation with the flu, now – no good way to know if it’s COVID-19 or not, since only high-risk or seriously ill people are getting tested, and I’m in the Bay Area so there’s a non-zero risk.

          (I’m okay, just can’t seem to shake the fever, so I’m working from home per doctor’s orders. We suspect a secondary infection at this point, but it’s hard to know for sure without a physical exam, and those are also being kept for emergencies to reduce flu spread.)

          I like working from home, but I feel guilty for being out and under the weather so long!

        3. Curmudgeon in California*

          Yeah, I got the cold that became some sort of bronchitis in December/January. I thought I was going to have to hit urgent care. Mostly gone now. But I have run out of sick time.

        4. MistOrMister*

          I was thinking the same thing. I went in for what I thought was the flu on Christmas Eve. I tested negative but was told my symptoms were such that I probably had the flu anyway (apparently the flu test only test for certain strains and can give a false negative.) and was given tamiflu. But I have been wondering if it could have been the coronavirus. It would be interesting if there was a way to test for people who have already had it.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            Theoretically you should have antibodies left over in your system if you’ve had it but I don’t know if there’s a of test for that yet. I assume the test they’re using only detects the full immune response: that would explain why people in isolation can pop a negative and then test positive a few days later.

            I would love to have an accurate count after the fact, just for statistics, but the administration seems to be super invested in making sure that doesn’t happen, based solely on the amount of tests that have been requested by doctors but refused by the labs that are capable of processing the samples.

        5. Cece*

          Same! We have a business unit in Wuhan and most of our foreign staff made it out before the lockdown. Discovered this midway through a lunch meeting with some of those folks that I hasn’t met before (and why would I? They’re usually in China). Or maybe I’ve just had an unusually bad cold? According to my local health services I’m not a priority for testing, so I stayed home best I could and took other precautions.

          1. Lee*

            Same, though? I had a particularly bad bout of something like flu or strep in Chicago over New Years, and tested negative for both. When I took antivirals, I got much better though.
            Symptoms were a bad dry cough and a very high fever, with a painful sore throat (white spots in the back of throat)

            1. Ego Chamber*

              I’m glad you got better!

              Coronovirus symptoms are high fever and a dry cough. The dangerous part is if it progresses to pneumonia, and the damage it does to the renal system. I’m worried about the long term effects. :(

      2. Krabby*

        Yeah, I’m in Canada and I saw a stat a few weeks ago saying my province had tested more people for covid-19 than all of the US combined. The Seattle outbreak happened just after that though, so I don’t know if that’s still true.

    4. everlong*

      I had a coworker once watch me lather my hands and asked in awe, how did I get it to lather? Like, until then, she’d just poured the soup on her hands and then washed them off. Um. You’re supposed to rub them together to build up a later. WTF.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Apparently not. I’ve seen so many people who just… don’t know how.

        2. everlong*

          This coworker had several other issues, including with boundaries and appropriate behavior, so I wish I could assume this was just part of them. But so many people wash their hands badly, so alas, I cannot blame the fact that she once announced that someone was pumping breastmilk.

        3. Librarian of SHIELD*

          We have a cooking program for kids, and I make them all wash their hands before we start. At the last one, one of the parents commented on how nobody ever showed her how to be that thorough about it.

          I remember there being some cute sketches about it on Sesame Street type shows when I was a kid, and I worked at a daycare in college where we got a thorough training on it, but “how to wash your hands” is just not a thing that people get taught.

          1. Sparkly Librarian*

            Our children’s librarians got a refresher passed down from a pediatric pulmonologist — someone who has taught a lot of little patients and their families how to keep from getting a potentially lethal respiratory illness. Of course we set it to music. (Doesn’t come across well without the visuals, though.)

    5. Three owls in a trench coat*

      There’s a woman in my building (different department) who always loudly chats on her cell phone while in the bathroom. It makes me cringe into the next week every single time. I haven’t seen her in a while but maybe the virus has made her change her habits.

      1. MusicWithRocksIn*

        There has been a lot on handwashing but another pro tip is to disinfect your screens often. We probably touch our phones more than anything else and if you wash your hands but then still type on the phone you were using before you washed your hands it didn’t do a lot of good. This goes for kindles and tablets too.

        1. MusicWithRocksIn*

          Oh – and steering wheel! Another thing we don’t think about how much we touch.

    6. research anon*

      For non-essential roles we are testing working from home this week two days.
      Meetings and conferences have been cancelled – the American College of Cardiology conference was just cancelled as was a collaborative meeting that we have with a large academic institution
      Most of my staff will have to be in the office. I am asking them to use hand sanitizer and to wipe down surfaces, computers and door knobs at the beginning and end of their shifts.
      My worry is what my company will do if all non-essential staff are required to stay home – not all of our work can be remote…. and people shouldn’t have to use their PTO for this –
      I worry most about the economic impacts of the virus thus far.

    7. TheOtherMother*

      Lucky us, my family and I work in the nation’s Covid19 hotbed, the Pacific Northwest. :(

      We’ve been told to work from home for three weeks. Today was day one. I spent more time on the phone with people today than I have this year combined. I only have a personal cellphone so now multiple people have my cellphone number. Ugh.

      Tomorrow, I’ll ZOOM for a meeting. We have important deadlines coming up so there’s lots of back and forth email and logging into systems – and making sure everyone has access to the system – to work on projects. I encourage people in other states and countries to plan NOW! Get IT on board and get people the right tools and access to tools so that they can continue to collaborate and get things done. Don’t wait to try to log into something and realize your passwords are all back in your office.

      We don’t have a separate office at home and try to use different devices to get work done. Two of us will be tripping over each other and there’s no going to a coffee shop to work!

      I’ve decided to track what I do each day, who I ZOOM or phone conference. And my hours. I’m fear I’m going to lose the boundary between home and work after three weeks. When we had the two weeks of snow in February 2019, I lost all track of time. I would remember something and log in at all hours, once at 1am. I don’t want that to happen again over these next three weeks.

    8. Struggle bus is real*

      Our office ran out of soap in the bathroom. Not due to unusual use, just lack of janitorial services…

  5. glitter writer*

    We are full-time remote writers to begin with, so mostly we’re explaining it to other people. And I’m trying to convince some friends who are new to remote work to get lunch with me in the coming weeks so none of us goes stir-crazy.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Yeah, I’m full-time remote, so I was ahead of the curve. My grandboss and another one of my colleagues is as well. The rest of my team is dispersed throughout the U.S., Europe, and Australia, so we’re watching what happens with them closely. My manager thinks it’s only a matter of time before our headquarters (where he’s based) will be shut down as a city an hour away from them now has two confirmed cases and we have an office in said city – they won’t close down one office and not the other. Plus, most of my company can work from home (we’re in tech), so it wouldn’t be too much of a disruption to just tell everyone not to come into the offices until this thing passes. We all have laptops, work phones, and/or conference speaker phones and headsets to be able to hold virtual meetings anywhere in the world.

      1. Sally*

        I used to work from home full-time, and it’s really isolating. I don’t love it, but sometimes I will work from home one day out of the week. My company just announced that we are all working from home for the next two weeks. So I’m going to have to figure out how to make it work for me. I’ll probably try to visit friends as much as I can, and work in the evening, which works better for me. I’ll try to take advantage of the flexibility of working from home, but I’ll still need to be available for some parts of my job during the day.

    2. Hats Are Great*

      I work for a small media outlet where most of the staff is full-time remote, so it hasn’t made a huge change to my daily life yet, but I am sooooooooo tired of reading and writing about coronavirus and handling the 50 billion complainy e-mails that come in every time there’s a new story or new development. “Why aren’t you promoting colloidal silver?” “Why did you quote the CDC when it’s compromise by Trump? The WHO is clearly the right source to quote!” It is just bringing out every reader we have who is utterly bananas.

  6. Eillah*

    I ride on the same train line (possibly the same train) as the New Rochelle patient. I’ve never washed my hands more.

    1. Bikelover*

      I read this at first as “I’ve never washed my hands before”. Good time to start, I guess?

  7. JokeyJules*

    we’ve been supplying staff who have to go out into the field with plenty of hand sanitizer and wipes. Our company is already very flexible on working remotely, so that wouldn’t be an issue anyway. The biggest potential concern for company operations is if none of us are able to do field work or need to quarantine, but as far as i know they’re preparing for it by trying to load up on opportunities to do work that can be done remotely rather than including field work.

    1. Catherine de Medici*

      My leasing office sent a letter the other day telling renters to inform them if anyone is sick if they have a maintenance request, so that the maintenance workers can take the appropriate precautions before entering the homes. Anyone with a fever will only have emergency services performed until 24 hours have passed since the fever broke. They are also wiping down common areas with disinfectant more frequently.

      1. Stormy Weather*

        My building is also doing more cleaning. I like what yours is doing for the maintenance workers.

      2. Ashley*

        I hope this is for non urgent maintenance requests. Plumbing issues can’t always wait among other maintenance issues.

        1. Catherine de Medici*

          They have rules for what classifies as a plumbing emergency. Basically, if you only have one shower/toilet and they aren’t working, then it is an emergency. If you have two bathrooms and only one is out, then it isn’t an emergency.

      3. LilPinkSock*

        My complex has stopped supplying towels in our little fitness center. I suspect our larger health club will do the same if (when?) the time comes.

        I’m glad your community is looking out for its staff this way.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Yeah, my husband’s job is a mix of office-based and field-based, and I’m very curious to see how things go with that. The office-based work can be done from home — a few of his coworkers WFH when they only have office things to do — but their field work obviously requires human presence, and is mostly done in pairs. They contract with private companies and government agencies for the field work, including on big infrastructure projects, so a quarantine could have a pretty big impact.

    3. Nita*

      Ugh. Our company is A-OK on remote work too, but several departments do quite a bit of field work. It would be kind of unfair if half of us could work from home, but the other half would have to keep running all over the city, getting exposed. On the upside, many of the field people have actual construction-grade respirators (and the ones who don’t could probably get fitted for them fairly quickly).

  8. Catherine de Medici*

    I work for the federal government and the general recommendations thus far are to encourage people to telework as needed and people should stay out of the office until they have gone 24 hours without any cold symptoms, although this is being left to the discretion of the employee for the time being. My agency is looking into making further recommendations, with the possibility of just having everyone telework for a while.
    My boss in particular has asked us to bring our laptops home every night, just in case.

    1. Mama Bear*

      Some agencies have specific polices folks can use. I know at least one person with severe asthma who has invoked some to use telework without the day in the office requirement.

      1. Kiwi*

        I have asthma and my personal plan is if more cases crop up in my area I’m working from home. My employer’s pretty flexible about it.

    2. Karen Hamrick*

      I also work for the federal government, and managers at my agency have been directed to send home anyone with a cough. Telework has been encouraged.

    3. Holy Moley*

      Sadly my federal job is not telework eligible so Ill be coming in until I get sick or they close down. Hoping that I wont have to burn my precious annual leave if something does happen but what can you do.

      1. Jaid*

        My fed job has a code for Office Open, Cannot Safely Report.

        Weather and safety leave may be authorized during periods of quarantine or isolation due to a quarantinable communicable disease if an employee is asymptomatic (does not exhibit symptoms) and they cannot perform work at an approved location (such as the home telework site). This supersedes the use of sick leave as would have otherwise been allowed during periods of quarantine or isolation under the sick leave regulations at 5 CFR 630.401(a)(5).

    4. Another Fed*

      Fed here as well. We were told last week that all OCONUS travel was put on hold until further notice, and then last night we found out no travel to DC either.

      1. SpaceySteph*

        I’ve been wondering about this. I’m about to go out on maternity leave so haven’t been in a few months personally, but our team does a lot of travel to the Los Angeles area. Wonder when they’re going to shut that down.

    5. everlong*

      Have they cancelled all travel? Last I heard, federal government was still traveling, while business travel tanks elsewhere.

      1. AnonPi*

        I think it’s dependent on the agency. Mine is no overseas travel, and travel within the US is only allowed if essential. Since we’re a research facility with visitors, we’ve also instituted rules about international travelers if they are from or have traveled through one of the high risk countries in the last 14 days then they can’t come on site. What they’ll do once it spreads more in the US remains to be seen. There’s been no discussion about telework, probably because the ones that make the decision get to work from home if they want anyways. Us hourly folk don’t have that privilege.

    6. Donovanable*

      Similarly a federal employee here. I’m getting telework approvals set up for myself (a whole production for the kind of job I do, which is almost always in person). I’m required to screen everyone I see for potential COVID exposure–unusual because I am not a front-line healthcare staff. In addition, my branch of federal service just approved up to 15 days of quarantine leave, at the discretion of the facility head (previously required much more to get this kind of approval).

    7. Katniss Evergreen*

      I’m a federal contractor working on-site with a certain health-research oriented agency. My boss said we’re anticipating any day now that our group will be directed to “telework, unless in exceptional circumstances to see urgent (read: necessary, time-sensitive clinical) appointments.” For anyone administrative, that’ll mean telework, full stop.

    8. Rachel in NYC*

      My office has been hurriedly making sure everyone has a laptop if they don’t and if they do, it’s up to date and everything works- now with reminders to take it home at night.

      It feels now like we’re just waiting for the email…

  9. S*

    Higher education institution in Europe – a few signs in the bathrooms telling people to wash their hands and the periodic email from upper management telling us to stay calm. Based on what I see around campus the good hand washing advice is not sinking in. Not feeling optimistic here.

    1. curly sue*

      Higher ed in Canada, and we’re seeing about the same. There haven’t been any cases within 1,000 km of us, so there’s no real worry locally, except that students and faculty do a lot of travelling. Some conference locations have been put off-limits for now, based on federal recommendations, and we’ve had a bunch of ‘please don’t panic, we’re keeping an eye on it’ emails. I haven’t heard any discussions about telework options or closure possibilities in the faculty at all.

      1. S*

        We are located in a major global city in the British isles (300 cases nationally, like 50 locally) and I’m frankly pretty blown away by how blase everyone is being. I understand the need to maintain calm but the impression one gets is of negligence.

        1. Kramerica Industries*

          I’m the other way with this where I think some are being too alarmist. I’m also Canada-based and I like our response so far. In my city, there have been news articles on how hospitals have dealt with past epidemics and how current facilities are preparing. My employer is a large corporation and from what I’ve heard from others, companies are doing a pretty good job at making sure people don’t feel pressured to come into work if they’re sick.

          Some conferences have been cancelled and I like that it sends the message of “we’re being cautious, but not blase because health is more important than the $$$ put into the conference”.

      2. sigh..*

        I’m also in higher ed in Canada but we have quite a few cases and just last week a bunch of people came up and visited from Seattle. So far only handwashing signs in the washrooms. No travel advisories yet.

      1. Elle*

        Yeah, I went through a large station on Saturday, and there was some really thorough hand washing going on – none of the usual dip and shake!

        1. Goofy*

          Agreed! I went to a show this week and had to wait in line for a sink to wash my hands — that has NEVER happened before at that venue.

    2. Majnoona*

      Higher ed in big state U in the US. *All* international travel has been cancelled (I can’t go to Toronto but Seattle is apparently fine). All study abroad students are coming home. We have been told to prepare to teach all our classes online if it comes to this and have been ask to teach one class online next week to practice. Some resources are provided.

      1. Eeyore's Missing Tail*

        Another higher ed person here. All of our spring study abroad students in China, South Korea, and Italy have come home and are under a two week quarantine. If anyone is going out the country for work, class, or personal, we are required to inform our international office (not real name, but I don’t want to out myself). Our faculty’s been told to take this week (our spring break) to move all classes online in the event we have to close. Our administrative specialist has received instructions on how to forward the office phones to local numbers and we’re all reminded to make sure our laptops have the vpn stuff.

        1. AbroadAnon*

          This is similar to my university.
          I actually work in the study abroad office, and we’ve cancelled all programs in China, South Korea, Italy, and Japan through the summer. Students in those countries have been required to return home and self-quarantine. We are anticipating more countries and more programs being impacted.

          Faculty and staff travelling to any country with a CDC rating of 2+ or a State Dept rating of 3+ must register their travel and self-quarantine when they come home. It has not been decided if someone travels knowing they will need to self-quarantine if they will be required to use vacation and/or sick days.

      2. Manon*

        Wow, that’s much more caution than my university (in the US) has.

        Only some study abroad has been suspended, and many students are traveling nationally/internationally right now for spring break. I’m genuinely worried things will get much worse in the aftermath of so much travel.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          “I’m genuinely worried things will get much worse in the aftermath of so much travel.”

          You’re not wrong to be concerned but try not to be overly concerned about it. We’ve likely had community spread in the states since sometime in January, if not December or earlier. People being in crowds are likely to spread it more and people who are travelling are likely to go to some crowded areas, so there will be an increase in illnesses when the students return. I also expect a dramatic increase in diagnoses whenever the administration gets their ish together re: proper testing or when the billionaires save us, whichever happens first (the Gates Foundation is currently dumping a millions of dollars into testing and facilities).

      3. sigh..*

        Has your institution considered the students who don’t have internet at home and rely on going to the library to complete assignments?

      4. Call Me Tired*

        Study abroad professional here.

        “I can’t go to Toronto but Seattle is apparently fine” is because it’s so hard for universities to be doing this on a case by case basis. We’re looking a potential level ups to 3 in Europe where we have a ton of students and it’s frankly not responsible of us to consider not taking these kids home, especially our undergrads. It’s still in progress, but I understand and can support taking them home. It’s on us if our students get infected.

      5. Rumbakalao*

        I’m in higher ed in DC and we’re all doing the same thing- a lot of mixed feelings about it though. Obviously there hasn’t been a lot of time to prepare for switching so suddenly to an online course format, and a lot of people (both students and staff) frustrated about the travel restrictions and what it means- people worrying about getting a grade for incomplete study abroad trips, parents concerned about their kids stuck in dorms with other sick people, people worrying about translating in-person curriculum to online for half a semester and possibly for the foreseeable future, etc.

    3. MuchNope*

      Higher ed library in Washington state.
      We’re prepared to go to remote classes at a moments notice. Various IT departments went all out last week getting laptops preloaded with needed VPN/software/apps/permissions and did an in-person boot up to make sure everything worked.
      Admin had everyone do a workload inventory of what could be done remotely and HR came up with webinars and training opportunities for people who couldn’t do their normal tasks from home. A second VPN server was added for higher traffic.
      I am actually stunned at how fast and thoroughly university admin pulled this together. They even reworked our ridiculous telework policy so classified staff weren’t left out.
      Now we’re all waiting for the word, and given how many cases are being confirmed, I expect it any moment.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        My university did an assessment early last November on people’s ability to do telework in case of emergency. The upshot is that most of the IT staff can WFH and is prepared to do so. It’s like someone was prescient.

    4. Kelly*

      Another higher ed person here in the Midwest. It’s unclear what is actually being done if there’s more an a few isolated cases. The only guidance that campus has sent out is concerning the individuals who have come back early from Italy and South Korea. We just a got a “helpful” reminder this morning via email to remember to wash our hands. We have not heard anything from both our HR office and the main one about remote work procedures and if we have to quarantine, if we have to use sick time or activate our short term paid leave policy.

      It’s also concerning that our spring break is next week. I have to work during it, and am irritated that we won’t likely won’t have any students who plan on sticking around because my colleague who is in charge of student staffing has not found anyone yet. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to shut down to the public next week and spend the week cleaning and disinfecting our spaces. I think that would be a more productive use of my time than babysitting the public desk and covering once again for my coworker’s basic inability to do the most simple and basic part of his job.

      Other state agencies have supposedly sent out some protocols for what to do, but none of those communications have been made public. The public transit agency isn’t doing anything yet, including reducing the chronic overcrowding that will only spread the disease faster if it hits. A colleague was indulging in some black humor with the comment that one of the campus bus routes could be one of the four horsemen of this plague.

      1. Public buses*

        Our pubic buses in our area have it stepped up – in that now they are deeply cleaning every 3 days instead of every two weeks. And also thoroughly every night.

      2. fposte*

        My worry is that cases will explode in my state over spring break and our students will be told not to return. There’s planning that I wouldn’t do this week that I’m moving earlier as a result, since I have a pile of key staff who are students.

      3. Lu*

        We have spring break next week too. I’m worried we are going to get a ton of cases. We’ve only got emails from administrators about washing our hands. Nothing about the possibility of prepping for moving classes online, etc. I’m really curious to see what happens. I don’t feel prepared.

    5. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer*

      Higher ed in the US. Everyone (including staff) has been instructed to self-isolate for 14 days if you return from a Level 3 country. We already have one-day-a-week telework permission so I’m going to try to push for seriously-just-stay-home-all-the-time-my-internet-works-just-as-well-on-Tuesday-as-it-does-on-Friday telework permission, but I’m not actually in charge of anything around here so…….

      1. S*

        Nice of your places to enforce self-isolation on people (if possible). We are extremely international and probably had thousands of students coming back from places like Italy over a recent weeklong break – no instruction for them to do anything – so I am pretty surprised I’m not hearing about more cases.

        1. Rumbakalao*

          We got the same instructions, but the reality is that they can’t actually enforce this policy. They can’t actually keep track of where every person associated with the school is traveling.

          I also work at a university that combines PTO and sick leave (which is unfortunately not uncommon), so I imagine without a blanket rule for everyone to be required to work from home a lot of people realistically are going to come in with germs anyway.

    6. R*

      I’m wondering if we work in the same place or if all British unis are just doing the same ‘signs in bathrooms and occasional email’ routine. I’ve personally seen far too many students leave the bathroom without washing their hands in my time to feel optimistic. I’m surprised we haven’t had any mention of remote working yet, but maybe that will change once term ends?

      1. S*

        I have some anecdotal evidence (I work at one and study at another, both doing the same minimal response) that this response is pretty much the same across the board. Smashing it. Ditto the uneeven handwashing routines.
        All I’ve heard of remote working is an email from a head of division saying that remote work was a possibility on the table but that conversations were ongoing. I’m wondering if unis are just trying to hold on until the end of the month when term ends or something…

        1. R*

          It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this is just the response of every uni. My team can go full remote work at least for a little bit but haven’t heard anything about it yet. I’m young but have asthma so keeping an eye on the situation – we have someone in the wider department with much more significant underlying respiratory issues who is still coming in to work, but I’m keeping an eye out to see when they go full work from home.

          I do think they’re doing their best to hang on until the end of term, I wouldn’t be surprised if we closed or went down to majority wfh over the Easter holidays or something.

    7. Drtheliz*

      Higher Ed in Germany, we’ve been given bathroom hand sanitizer and A Plan
      #Remote work for 14 days if ill/high risk, even if remote work is not usually allowed
      #Even if you can’t remote work (no living room laser) this will not be counted as holiday
      #If your kid’s daycare/school is shut, talk to your boss and we’ll work something out
      #Please book refundable travel

    8. Adjuncts Anonymous*

      Community college instructor in NC, USA: most of the college (not my department, though) was on Spring Break last week. Employees who traveled to China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Washington State, California, New York City or Westchester County, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Oregon, or Texas are required to check with the HR office before returning to work. Official travel to these areas has been suspended indefinitely.

      Of course, they are also reminding us to wash our hands and to use sanitizer when necessary. There has been nothing about online classes or distance learning at this point, but our county is so far unaffected, and there have only been two confirmed cases in the state. My thoughts are with those of you more directly afflicted.

    9. Foxgloves*

      Higher Ed in London and everyone is taking it very seriously here- lots of hand washing, hand sanitiser everywhere, and strong encouragements to work from home if you’re ill- but no one is telling healthy people to work from home. I work on online degree programmes, and everyone is coming to us for advice for how we could do all teaching/ learning/ assessment remotely. We’ve had 60+ cases here and I don’t know anyone whose company has asked them to work from home until further notice. A few “you’ve been to Japan/ Italy so please work from home for a fortnight”, and one “you’re in two teams- one will work from home, one will work from the office, and you’ll alternate weekly”, but that’s about the extent of it. We’re all being very British about it.

  10. Erin*

    We haven’t made any decisions yet, but I think something will be coming about working remotely soon enough. Several conferences we were supposed to send team members to have been canceled, though. It was fun talking to a hotel reservations agent this morning about canceling a dozen hotel rooms, though.

    1. Loubelou*

      We’re in a similar situation except that a planned conference is still going ahead (at the moment).
      I’m actually concerned that very little has been mentioned at my organisation about working from home. I spoke to my CEO about it briefly and she thinks it’s unlikely it will come to that, but we don’t have a contingency plan in place. But then she’s really not keen on remote working generally.

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      I’ve had two work-related conferences canceled already. Fortunately they were local.

      1. Sally*

        I’ve had several all-day conferences and off-site meetings canceled in the past few days,too.

      2. nymitz*

        We’ve had at least four major national conferences cancelled between now and the end of May, but then those attendees are mostly public health and health care, so kinda busy at the moment – I think it has more to do with likely conference attendance numbers than it does with stopping the spread of disease.

  11. DataQueen*

    We’ve been instructed to take our laptops and critical documents home each night, just in case. People travelling abroad should self-quarantine upon return. No pay/sick time/etc. will be docked (we have a great company!). And we’re meeting this afternoon to discuss upcoming large events – we are considering cancelling anything over 25-30 people for the next month or two, but we’ll see what happens. We actually deal with this all the time because so many of our events and staff are outdoors, so every summer when there’s a concern (last year EEE), we have to address it with our staff. We usually go with town/state/national guidelines and adhere to those, with an extra layer of “we do care about you so you do what you feel safest with”.

    1. DataQueen*

      Oh, and hand sanitizer stations have been added at every corner. Like no one washed thier hands before this?

      1. Mama Bear*

        Our landlord added sanitizer stations and posted handwashing/info sheets in the bathrooms.

      2. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

        I still have to tell people to wash their hands. It shocking how resistant people are to keeping their hands clean. It takes less than a minute.

        1. Mr. Anderson, Matrix CEO*

          And those non-shielding, open mouth coughers are now getting dirty looks from everyone (into your elbow people!)

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Yeah, about the elbow thing: My arm doesn’t bend that way. I cough onto the back of my arm.

            1. RoseMai*

              Any effort is appreciated. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen just full-on, open-mouth cough on the subway. So gross.

      3. calonkat*

        You can’t buy hand sanitizer in my town now (they identified one case in the state, but since they’ve tested under 50 people, whoop de doo) but you can buy all the liquid/hand soap you want. Toilet paper is gone, but tissue paper is still there. I mean, what the heck???? Why would you rather put alcohol on your hands than wash them and just REMOVE the yucky stuff??? And who needs a multi year supply of toilet paper? Are they planning to use that instead of tissues???

          1. Alienor*

            I read an article this morning which posited that people are fixated on toilet paper because they want to feel like they’re doing something, and toilet paper is a relatively cheap commodity that they know they’ll use eventually, so they can buy a lot of it and think “OK, I’m prepared.” (Full disclosure: I did buy a larger pack of TP than normal when I went shopping last week, but like…24 rolls, not hundreds of them.)

          2. Oxford Comma*

            I have a friend with Crohn’s disease and I understand why she wanted enough for a month.

            Everyone else….not so sure.

          3. Curmudgeon in California*

            Same here. I actually needed to buy TP this month, and had to go five different places before I found some. Annoying as hell. In Costco over the weekend I saw lots of people with TP and paper towels. I know they didn’t all need it. Yes, I bought slightly larger quantities on my regular Costco run, but otherwise nothing special – I shop in bulk anyway, and since I like in earthquake country I keep a good backstock of non-perishables anyway.

            1. Windchime*

              I’m in Washington. My sister also lives here, but on the less populated side of the state. Even so, her Costco was rationing toilet paper and bottled water. People were queued up to get their package of TP and a fight almost broke out when a couple of women tried to cut in line. It’s nuts.

          4. MistOrMister*

            I bought one pack of toilet paper. I already had abouthalf of one, so I am set for I would say at least 6 months. But I bought mine because I heard people were going nuts and buying all the tp in sight. I just didn’t want to be left with no tp in a few months if everyone is still in survival mode.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Our local grocery chain put a strict limit on TP, bottled water, bleach, lysol, and some shelf-stable staples. Five per customer. You can’t find rubbing alcohol or Clorox wipes for love nor money, but there were plenty of other cleaning supplies — and all the hand soap you could possibly want.

          So far we only have three cases in my state and a few healthcare workers in quarantine.

        2. Valprehension*

          My understanding is that the toilet paper shortage is somewhat related to supply chain issues (although once the stock started dwindling, people have also taken that as a sign to stock up irrationally…)

          1. gmg22*

            I assumed it was because people didn’t want to run out if they had to self-isolate at home, but that should mean we’re also running out of canned goods and the like. Maybe we are and I just don’t know about it … my local grocery store is in the middle of moving to a new building, so the shelves look empty anyway.

            1. pentamom*

              How much toilet paper are people (excluding people with GI issues) using that they would normally run out in less than a month anyway? It’s not like it’s something you buy every week in the first place. I don’t think even everybody buying their normal purchase of TP at once without hoarding would cause shortages everywhere.

          2. Risha*

            I mean, to be fair, once the hording starts, it can then become logical behavior. I got groceries yesterday and picked up a 12 pack of toilet paper that under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have gotten until the next trip (as a single woman with three+ full rolls left). It wasn’t that I thought I’d get sick or have to self quarantine in the near future, it was that I’d heard the reports of stores selling out and didn’t want to get stuck hunting for it on that next trip if that happened to my usual grocery store.

            1. CorruptedbyCoffee*

              I’m in King county, so our response might be a little different than many of your workplaces. Our company president is part of the meetings going on daily with king county health. At first nobody was taking it seriously. We got an email that was like “wash your hands, and remember, you probably won’t even know you’ve got it!” Then the deaths started, the city, county and state declared a state of emergency and told all our high risk people to stay home for 3 weeks. Which I’m doing, because I’m immunocompromised.

              My organization sent out an email telling everyone “they have to make a personal choice” if they are high risk on whether to stay home. Personally, the health system around here is overwhelmed right now, so if I do get it I know I probably can’t expect care, so I’m seeing on the side of following the health departments guidelines. I do not have enough sick and vacation to cover this, so at least a week will be unpaid.

              At this point, about 1/3 to half our staff are out sick. I’m not sure how many of them are high risk, have the flu or have covid because they’re *still* not testing everyone, just people bad enough to need hospitalization.

              The library basically has said it will not close unless ordered to do so. Their current plan is to take 3 out of every 4 computers out of service and limit staff contact to 6 feet away from patrons and each other. It’s ridiculous because we hotdesk and serve a huge population that doesn’t or is incapable of observing general health guidelines, like hand washing or covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched someone cough on their library card and then hand it to me. Bodily fluids are a daily part of our routine.

              Some of the staff have tried wearing gloves, but pretty much everyone was having problems with hand sweat and cracking hands due to excessive hand washing. We’ve been instructed to wipe everything down with wipes every 30 minutes, but if you read the back of the wipes, surfaces have to be wet for 4 full minutes to kill viruses, and we have over 100 computers in one building alone.

              Someone tried to steal our industrial sized bottle of hand sanitizer. The stores have been out for weeks and we weren’t sure we were going to be able to get more, but they were able to ship some in. After that runs out, I’m not sure what we’ll do do, so I hope no one steals it.

              We’ll see.

              1. Mad Harry Crewe*

                I’ve heard that the local diners won’t stock their tables with full bottles of Secret Aardvark (kind of fancy hot sauce), because people steal them – they make sure that the bottles are never more than half full. Could you batch out the big hand sanitizer bottle into smaller, half-full ones?

                1. CorruptedbyCoffee*

                  Those are smaller and thus easier to steal. I figure it’s harder to lug the giant one off the desk and harder to hide. The little ones can go into hoodie pockets or purses, sadly.

          3. Djuna*

            Someone told me today (I’m in Europe) that our larger supermarkets don’t like to keep large amounts of toilet paper in storage because it takes up too much space. They order enough to fill the shelves and then re-order daily as needed. They are re-ordering every day now and it is putting the supply chain under a lot of pressure.

        3. everlong*

          I stocked up on toilet paper on the theory that if I’m quarantined for 2 weeks without notice, I’m gonna need that :P

      4. Diahann Carroll*

        Like no one washed thier hands before this?

        No, no they didn’t. I can’t tell you how many women I’ve seen over the years just waltz their asses out of the bathroom after taking a dump or changing their tampons without washing their hands. This is why, when I worked in-house, I never opened any doors without using a paper towel or napkin and I never touched any other communal item (e.g., coffee machine, printers, water dispenser, microwaves, etc.) in the office without using my sleeve or the bottom of my shirt (which I would then spray with 91% alcohol and/or Lysol once I got back to my desk).

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          One job I had I would be sitting in the stall and listen as women would flush, leave the stall, and head straight for the door. It was one of those open plan benching environments, too (36″ of bench per person.) I got pneumonia within my first month of working there, in 2015. I left before the end of the year, even though I took a pay cut.

    2. Llama Wrangler*

      And we’re meeting this afternoon to discuss upcoming large events – we are considering cancelling anything over 25-30 people for the next month or two, but we’ll see what happens.

      I asked about this in a separate comment down thread, but I’m curious about how other workplaces are thinking of handling these issues. We’re client-serving (and serve young adults) so events generally impact our clients as well as our staff.

      1. Krabby*

        I just got asked to attend an emergency conference (~50 people) tomorrow about how to handle the virus. All I can think is, “why the hell is this an in-person event? We are all tech companies!”

        1. Ego Chamber*

          I saw a thing on Twitter yesterday about a university hosting a hackathon to “help stop the coronavirus.” It’s I think 3 days or something like that and no, it’s not virtual.

      2. DataQueen*

        Our events being cancelled will impact our clients – we deal with all ages and our services aren’t necessary, just nice to haves (for example, a homeless shelter versus a ballet). It will also result in lost revenue for us because those with the means do pay to attend.

    3. sacados*

      That’s basically what my office is doing too.
      1) No booking upcoming business travel (domestic or international) for the foreseeable future; and if you do need to book travel, must come with detailed Reasons why you can’t just get it done via conference call
      2) Anybody returning from international (anywhere outside US, even Canada) must mandatory WFH for 14 days
      3) Mandatory 14 days WFH for anyone who’s been to a large conference or gathering in the last 2 weeks
      4) Our SF office typically caters lunch every day, that’s also being reevaluated apparently (communal food dangers)

      Then they also sent out a memo to our San Francisco office telling people they were welcome to work from home per their own judgment, which about 24 hours later was changed to “encouraged” to work from home. Still for SF only tho, I’m in our Burbank office and for the moment there hasn’t been any particular guidance about our office, other than the fact that in general people tend to work remote as needed anyway.

  12. Miss May*

    I’m currently located in Wisconsin, and there are no active cases. We do have one immune-compromised person on staff, but so far, the company has only sent out a memo stating that if individuals are ill, please stay home.

    Personally, since we share computers and mice, I’ve been wiping them down with antibacterial wipes daily.

    1. sole*

      This is similar for my agency in Michigan – with no active cases, HR has just sent out an email laying out the basics everyone already knows (wash your hands, don’t touch your face, stay home if sick, etc.). There are disinfecting wipes available from the office manager.

      I’m currently immune-compromised, so I’ve had my office on lock down for several months already. I’m lucky in that I have a door that closes and I can do my work without much coworker interaction.

    2. Coder von Frankenstein*

      Just FYI, antibacterials offer no protection from COVID-19. Wipes and sanitizers need to be alcohol-based.

      1. Coder von Frankenstein*

        There are regular e-mail announcements, mostly of the “Be careful, don’t panic” variety, and my boss just got pulled into a planning session for our Emergency Operations Center. That’s at the big picture level. On a smaller scale, I’ve seen a lot of folks pulling out of plans to attend conferences.

        Nothing major yet, but I’m sure it’s coming.

        1. Coder von Frankenstein*

          Whoops, didn’t mean to reply to myself there – that was supposed to be a new reply.

      2. Miss May*

        Ah, yeah. That’s a typo on my part. I did ensure that the wipes I’m using are “full spectrum” i.e. viruses and bacteria.

      3. Glenn*

        There are at least three types of wipes that (as far as I’m aware) are effective: alcohol (ethanol or isopropyl alcohol), bleach (must be sodium hypochlorite, AKA real bleach), and “quaternary ammonia”. The first two types usually advertise what they are, but third category are usually just labeled “disinfecting wipes”. If the ingredients list contains the words “ammonium chloride”, this is probably what you have, and they should work against viruses as well as bacteria.

    3. Kelly*

      There’s a dozen cases being tested right now in Wisconsin, and there’s likely more. My sister works for the MN health department and she said that the half dozen or so labs there that have the ability to test for it are at capacity and there’s a bottleneck. She thought that the number publicly released there was maybe 25% of the actual cases in MN.

      Meanwhile, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, bottled water and gatorade were all almost gone when I went grocery shopping yesterday. I may have to go to Menard’s or another hardware store for the first two items if it becomes necessary.

    4. Existentialista*

      Me too. Every conversation I’ve had in the last week is about the virus, but this past weekend it seemed like everyone in my town was out and about, being extra social because “it’s not here yet”. Traffic around our local shopping mall looked like Christmas Eve.

      At work, our big global manufacturing company has cancelled all travel and large meetings, recommends not attending trade shows, and recommended we take our lap tops home every night. We have a questionnaire for visitors about contact with affected areas or people with confirmed cases, and visitors are not allowed to enter without completing it.

      We just recently changed to a PTO system for sick leave, so we’ll see how that is handled as time goes by.

  13. Free Meercats*

    With great seriousness. The first US case was in our city and Administration started working hard on it immediately.

    All group meetings that aren’t absolutely necessary have been canceled. Work from home approvals have been sped up (they used to take forever), but most city jobs can’t be done remotely; we gotta provide services.

    Facilities has hired some temp labor to do more cleaning, all offices have gotten fresh supplies of hand sanitizer and spray bottles of disinfectant for touched surfaces.

    1. Windchime*

      I live in the same town. I work in downtown Seattle for a medical group’s IT department. We are all working from home until further notice. Apparently we will be told on each Thursday whether or not we should continue to work remotely or come in the next week but they are expecting it to last at least a couple of weeks. I’m not extremely worried for myself (although I do have asthma, so I’m being careful), but my parents are both in their 80’s and I worry for them. One person has died in a town not far from where they live so that’s a concern.

      I’m glad that my work is having us work from home. We were also asked to take our (work-supplied) hand sanitizer and wipes to a collection area so they could be given to one of our hospitals, as people have apparently been stealing them from the supply room. :(

  14. Murphy*

    I work for a university. Managers have been asked to check with their employees to make sure everyone is capable of working from home. The university is apparently considering going to “essential personnel only” which would mean in my department that we wouldn’t be allowed in the office and would have to work from home (which luckily we can, through virtual meetings). I don’t know if it’s going to happen anytime soon, but I guess they’re getting prepared. (We have a medical school and there are confirmed coronavirus cases in our area.)

    They’ve also banned work travel to China, Korea, and Italy, and suspended study abroad programs in those countries as well.

    1. Summer Smith*

      Another university staff member here. I work in IT, and I’m aware of an effort to make sure technology (and sufficient network bandwidth) is in place in the event the university cancels all on-campus classes and moves exclusively to virtual classrooms for a time. Not sure what that would mean for those taking laboratory-based classes.

      Regular emails (they seem to be daily now) are also sent campus-wide keeping everyone informed of what precautions the university is taking, travel restrictions, and other pertinent info. They also have a website set up to provide people more detailed information. And of course, we’re being told to make sure we take all necessary work materials (laptop, etc) home each day, in case the university shuts down campus at some point.

    2. Murphy*

      Oh yeah, and if you travel to a state with a declared state of emergency you can’t come to work for 2 weeks.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Interesting! Our governor declared a state of emergency after our first case. SOEs are as much about releasing certain funds and enabling certain actions as they are about it being an actual emergency.

        1. Murphy*

          My guess is that this is the only objective criteria they could come up with for locations to avoid domestically.

    3. TechServLib*

      This is comparable to what’s happening at the university I work for as well (US, medical school and major hospital connected to campus, several cases in neighboring counties). We’re making sure we can keep functioning if we go to fully online classes, and a campus ban of anyone who has traveled to a Level 3 country has been implemented in addition to study abroad withdrawals from those countries. Word of mouth is that it’s only a matter of time before we close, and we’re using this week to prep for that inevitability since it’s Spring Break. There is concern about students travelling over break unwittingly spreading the virus.
      Signs about handwashing and disinfecting shared devices like computer lab keyboards have gone up, but no bans on meetings or large gatherings like sporting events.
      Hand sanitizer is getting difficult to come by, but we have a bountiful supply of hand soap and disinfecting wipes.

      1. Murphy*

        We might work at the same place, haha

        My office is off campus so I see less of that stuff.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          I wonder if either of you work where I do. We get daily updates, plus an intranet site for the latest info, and we have a medical school plus a major hospital that can do its own testing.

          1. TechServLib*

            Assuming your username is geographically accurate, I’m on the opposite coast from you. We’re not getting daily updates, just sporadic “here’s what we’re doing now” emails. There is a landing page for university-wide info, but it’s open to the public and pretty boilerplate CDC language.

        2. Don't Call me Liz*

          Fits the description of my Uni too :) I can work from home and will continue to do so….

    4. J. F. Scientist*

      Also a university but very rural. They have a plan, but aren’t telling any of us what it is in advance. I teach science labs which are… very hard… to replace with remote work, and also instructional hours affect accreditation, and it’s a mess.

      Same with travel restrictions and hand washing encouragement. They’re cleaning common areas more frequently too.

    5. LuckyPurpleSocks*

      I also work for a university (in the U.S.). We also have travel bans right now, and everything set in place for people to work from home if possible (as needed). Some events which would have required people to travel have been cancelled, and students/faculty/staff have been sent regular emails with general guidance on staying healthy, and class and work attendance guidelines/suggestions if sick. IT is also preparing for the increased activity on university websites and email servers should more people start working or sending in coursework from home. Faculty and staff are bracing for after spring break, though, since we know that very little will stop students from hopping a plane to travel to the beach or wherever, which is when most people start to pick up the flu or colds ’round here. In the meantime, we’re washing our hands and staying calm.

      1. memyselfandi*

        Same here in my state that has active cases. In addition the university (where I have an adjunct position) has cancelled all meetings (except for classes) over 100 people. A small conference has been cancelled as well as a couple of other things. I don’t know what other universities in the state are doing.

        1. memyselfandi*

          Whoops! Just got an update – All events that are not related to classroom teaching are canceled until April 13th.

    6. Amarylls*

      State university employee in a major US city – no cases on campus yet but 15+ in the county. Admin is considering shifting classes to online format and asking faculty to start looking in to it, but no changes yet. The main plan is to possibly move courses online but to keep the campus open (similar to what other univs, like Stanford, Berkeley, etc are doing). Which means staff would probably still have to come to campus…

      I’ve been partly working from home over the past several years so I can do 95% of my work anywhere in the world as long as I have a good internet connection and can VPN to the campus network. Some of my coworkers (thanks to the fact that their bosses are very anti-remote-work) are completely unprepared. They may not have computers at home so the dept would need to buy laptops and set them up. I see no urgency, though, just business as usual.

      Campus-wide – there are new Purell hand-sanitizing stands around (the one in our building had no liquid in it though so it didn’t work). Business travel to China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy are banned (domestic travel to those places are discouraged), unless there is an emergency research related need to go (requires vice chancellor approval).

      They just had a campus meeting today and the question was asked why we aren’t moving to online now (before an outbreak) – the response was “well…. our friends at the university across town are having a 3-day trial of online courses so they’ll let us know how it works out”. Um, ok.

  15. OtterB*

    As it happens, we’re all working remotely until early May anyway, due to a major office renovation.

    Our main decision (not mine to make, I’m just a worker bee on this project) is about a workshop in mid-April bringing about 500 academics and graduate students to New Orleans from across North America. They are, I think, in wait-and-see mode. A similar, but somewhat smaller workshop was just held.

    Email from my boss last week that our organization doesn’t have a formal policy on cancelled travel but that they will work with us to make sure we don’t lost money on reservations for business travel.

  16. ThatGirl*

    So far, not much – there are a few signs up about hygiene and an email was sent out saying “stay home if you’re sick, if you need more than your sick time you have to use PTO” and that was about it. Our manager also reiterated that and talked about work from home if needed.

    The majority of us can work from home, but nobody companywide has mentioned that yet. However we do have a distribution center about 20 miles away and I have no idea what they’ve been told; seems like that’s a much higher-risk environment and obviously you can’t ship to suppliers from home.

    Also, we have manufacturing in China (Shenzen), and last I’d heard our office staff there was all working from home but again, you can’t manufacture from home. I don’t know if our shipments have been delayed or by how much.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Oh, and all work travel’s been banned for now – first it was just international, now domestic too (our parent company/overlord is in Germany and has companies all over the world).

    2. zora*

      Yeah, this is my company basically and I’m super not impressed.
      The last email from management was sent out on Feb 28 and there haven’t been any updates.

      Lots of statements about “don’t come to work if you are sick. Anyone with symptoms will be sent home”, but no mention of how they will deal with sick leave, because our PTO isn’t that generous, most of us have a combined 15 days Sick and Vacation, which doesn’t leave a lot for staying home for a 2 week quarantine.

      Most of our people work remotely frequently anyway, so I think they are assuming they will just tell people to work from home if needed. But of course, those of us who are office managers, etc are just being forgotten about, as usual. I don’t know if they would let me work from home if I was sick, or if they would let people not charge to PTO, they haven’t addressed it.

      We also have a lot of people who travel for client work frequently, and the statement about work travel that was sent on the 28th is basically “we won’t actively force anyone to travel if you are uncomfortable” and they haven’t updated that yet. So more than one person I’ve talked to went ahead and flew to a client meeting anyway, because they felt pretty doubtful leadership would be willing to lose the money if they just decided not to go and to cancel the meeting.

      A friend’s company is saying “Please turn all meetings into video conferences if at all possible. Don’t worry about costs from cancelled travel.” That seems like the appropriate level of urgency to me, and I’m pretty disappointed in my company. But not surprised.

  17. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    PSA of the US-centric nature for individuals, copied from the weekend thread:

    Unless you are immunocompromised, have preexisting lung issues, are very young or over 65, or are having true breathing problems, please do not go to an ER for cold/flu symptoms. One, it’s going to be expensive. Two, almost nobody has Covid-19 tests in the ERs yet anyway, the health department has to bring them out. Three, whether you have C19 or the flu or not, going to the ER will both expose you to everyone else’s germs and them to yours. Sharing is still not caring. (Four, I am not kidding, it’s going to be ducking expensive.) [This, minus the “ducking expensive” parts, are actually recommendations from my employer, which is a large hospital system.]

    If you legitimately feel that you are at risk of having been exposed (that is, “I just got back from visiting friends in Kirkland,” not “I have the sniffles and I ate Chinese food last week,” because ugh), call your state health department. They will talk you through the appropriate steps to take. If they do tell you to go to a local hospital, chances are very high that they will meet you in the parking lot in the Ebola moon suits, put you in your own Ebola moon suit, shuffle you in a side door and take you by the most back-route possible to a low-pressure containment suite for your testing. This is probably very scary, but it is only meant to keep anything from spreading to anybody else at the hospital, which is by definition full of susceptible people. In Indiana, our first two patients who they did this to, they confirmed that yes, they were infected, and then they were sent home with strict orders to self-quarantine because they had super mild symptoms. So the moon suits are not an indication that you’re going to be, like, locked up in the hospital and not allowed to leave or anything.

    If you just feel gross, start with a virtual or telemedicine visit. Some insurance companies offer these to their clients, or nursing hotlines. You can also google “(local hospital) telemedicine” or “(city or state) telemedicine” to find options. As a bonus, these are WAY WAY WAY CHEAPER than ER visits (or usually even regular doctor visits), with or without insurance.

    DISCLAIMER: this is my personal advice as a moderately knowledgeable individual, not official guidance from my employer. But I do work for a hospital and one of my degrees is in public heath.

      1. Door*

        I work for a local public health department and second this. For healthy adults without a confirmed exposure (even visiting friends in Kirkland would be borderline for us – we’re really looking for “I just got back from Italy” or “Someone who tested positive coughed in my face”), the absolute best thing you can do to protect your community is stay home until you’re symptom free for 24 hours.

    1. K-12 California*

      My county had been watching a patient on quarantine for the last two weeks. Just last week the patient reached a level of illness that necessitated a test for COVID-19. Patient was driven to the hospital but remained in his vehicle in an empty portion of the parking lot while a nurse in full contamination gear administered the test with CDC watching. Patient then went home for the rest of quarantine. Testing kit was sent in and confirmed COVID-19.

      The hospital did not want that individual anywhere near their facilities.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yuuuup. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, the hospital is not actually where you want to be when you’re sick, because you are a captive audience for everyone else’s germs that they helpfully bring to the hospital to share with you. And the hospital who doesn’t have hospital-acquired infections on its regular metrics list is a rare beast indeed. So the patients don’t want you there, the hospital doesn’t want you there, the health department doesn’t want you there, unless there is no other option, for everybody’s safety.

        (Another bonus to virtual medicine – a lot of the hospitals that do telemedicine visits haven’t actually figured out how to appropriately bill for them. :P I never got a bill for either of the two I’ve done in the past.)

    2. Retail not Retail*

      I slept all day yesterday which seemed to kick the lingering cold/allergy flare up that had me exhausted and sneezing and congested. Like I told everyone – the dust/pollen in my face never made me cough, it’s all good.

      But I still needed to see my doc for a wrenched trapezius muscle. I called ahead of time. “I don’t have a cold I’m not doing that but are you taking walk-ins?”

    3. Retail not Retail*

      I am so worried about my mom though. She works at an elementary school and didn’t get the flu shot even though it was free. I don’t know what 8 years of seizures can do to a body but I am up her butt. “You’re cold? Why are you cold? Are you taking your allergy medicine?”

    4. Curmudgeon in California*

      There is an app you can get for your phone, Plushcare, that has telemedicine doctors available by reasonably quick appointments. They’ll even call in prescriptions for you. Even if you’re uninsured, the appointments only cost $99.

      No, I don’t work for the company. I have used them before, and the doctor was very nice.

      1. RoseMai*

        There’s lots of options in this space. Your insurance company might have a discounted rate with one of the providers. You can also visit on your own: AmWell (~$69/visit) , MDLive (~$75/visit), etc.

        There’s also concierge doctors, and they can come with totally free, unlimited telemedicine visits. If the annual fee to join is relatively low, you could save a good amount of money by joining.

  18. Karin*

    Suspension of all business travel, cancellation of multiple conferences, encouraging remote work, requiring visitors to fill out a form if they’ve traveled or been in contact with someone who traveled to a high-risk location in the last fortnight.

    1. Ms. Mad Scientist*

      Same for mine. Employer is encouraging people to WFH if they can, and will advance them up to two weeks of sick time if they need it.

  19. Sharkie*

    Nothing. Which is fine but I rather have a plan in place that we never need then BS a plan when we need one.

  20. Moth*

    We’re in the mountain west and recently hand sanitizing stations were installed all around the building. Two new full-time janitorial staff were also just hired to literally spend the entire day going around the building wiping down and sanitizing door knobs, water faucet handles, and other surfaces people touch. So far it’s still preventative precaution, there have been no diagnosed cases in our city, but it’s surely only a matter of time. Management is working on developing the rest of the guidelines that will be in place regarding working from home and such, but we have about 65% office staff and 35% warehouse/manufacturing staff, so it’s difficult to make guidelines to cover everyone.

    We have also cancelled all travel to several locations, which has been significant for us as well, since some of our offices and events are in countries that have been hardest hit. But maybe learning to do more of those meetings remotely rather than flying back and forth won’t be a bad thing.

    1. Brownie*

      “Two new full-time janitorial staff were also just hired to literally spend the entire day going around the building wiping down and sanitizing door knobs, water faucet handles, and other surfaces people touch.”

      That is such a magnificent thing to do, full kudos to whomever made that decision!

    2. LawLady*

      Our building is doing the same thing. I don’t think they’ve hired anyone new, but the security personnel are now actively wiping all the time.

  21. NPOQueen*

    All non-essential travel has been canceled, and the definition of “essential” has been raised to “the entire project would fail if you weren’t there, physically.” All meetings need to be virtual, if possible, to limit the number of guests we have coming in. They provide wipes for our keyboard stations, and the cleaning staff is supposed to disinfect more often. We are all being required to test our computers and make sure we know how to log in from home. Honestly, I think the response is over the top, but it’s much better to be safe rather than sorry, and easier to pull back on restrictions rather than to put them in place once people start turning up sick.

    1. SpaceySteph*

      One of my thin hopes is that out of this people will realize that virtual meetings and telework are actual viable ways to get the majority of work done, and business travel needs will drop. I don’t think places have really adjusted to 21st century teleconferencing capability.

      Although on the other hand, we’d then have a shortage or cockamamie letters to AAM about being forced to share a hotel room with a coworker.

      1. Rumbakalao*

        This!

        Not so much travel, but realizing that general work needs can be accomplished at home without the need for a commute would be great.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        Exactly! Does it really matter if I come in to a work-owned building or stay at my house to spend 6 of 8 hours on the phone with my colleagues? I like being in the office 1-2 days a week in the event I do get to see someone in person, but most of my work can be done remotely with no issues.

  22. Dragoning*

    We have several posters in the bathrooms and hallways instructing us how to wash our hands, have cancelled business travel to any hot zone countries, and have signs in the company health clinics on campus telling people to notify them if they have any symptoms and came from a region with an outbreak.

    We have pretty much always had things like like hand sanitizer at every desk and in every meeting rooms, although I’m not sure if the ones on various cabinets in the hallways is new or not. And many of us can already work from home if necessary, although I don’t think a lot of us are (we’re not in a hot area, so it’s less of a concern).

    Mostly, on a day-to-day issue, my coworkers and management aren’t really talking about it. We’re all aware of it, but there’s no panic or anything here. But I also work in Pharma, so the biggest topics on conversation are on treatments and vaccines.

    1. AnonyMouse*

      BigFed worker here. The plan is nonexistent to the point of callousness. My supervisor has personally expressed that she thinks that the Covid19 is no worse than the flu, hence our office shouldn’t be affected despite the fact that our personnel works in close and extended contact with the affected population.

      Anyone who has symptoms will have to use their own sick leave (which isn’t very generous). Doesn’t help that there are people who refuse to take this seriously or are heads in the sand about it

  23. fates_recorder*

    My small (~ 30 people) company is in MA and has basically no option to work remotely for 99% of staff. Right now they are focused on sanitizing; we have extra hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes available. Because of the nature of our work, masks and gloves are also available. No new policies have been put into place. Most staff have about 5 sick days each year and I haven’t heard any discussion about how to deal with sick time during this period. The business park that we are in has increased cleaning efforts.

  24. Antilles*

    Been looking forward to this thread since you suggested it in comments on Friday, because there’s a huge difference between my wife’s work and I, so I’d love to see the spectrum here. For reference, neither of us works in health care or similar industries; we’re basically stereotypical white-collar office workers. Also, our state has only two reported cases (a dad and his kid who actually traveled to China), and our county does not have any reported cases as of yet.
    My work has instituted the following: (1) a mandatory “stay at home if you’re sick” period, (2) a formal calendar event reminding us to clean our offices, (3) written large red font lists of things to clean regularly like door handles, keyboards, mice, etc, etc, (4) finally getting IT to set everyone up for remote work so we’re prepared (side note: FINALLY!), (5) our janitorial service is themselves wiping down all door handles and light switches as part of their normal emptying trash and mopping bahtrooms and etc, and (6) at least one email a week related to the current status of coronavirus globally and locally.
    My wife’s office is doing…nothing. No official response from management and to the extent anyone even mentions coronavirus, the management quickly jumps in with a polite “we support you if you want to get tested or use PTO, but the best thing you can do is just act normal”.

    1. Meredith*

      My husband works for a global corporation tangential to health insurance/pharma (just research, no patient care and no product manufacturing for end users), and the first time anyone mentioned it was Friday. They are limiting gathers to 40 (?!) people. As far as he knows, his trip from Philly to Chicago in 2 weeks is still on. I told him to wait for my doctor’s appointment on Thursday to assess how at risk I am, and then he’ll have an excuse to cancel. He’s also hedging his bets that they might cancel it first, which obviously will look “better” for him, but having a wife with immune issues should be a good enough excuse since they’ve mentioned if people don’t feel comfortable traveling, they don’t “have” to.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yeah, he needs to cancel that flight regardless. Philly has confirmed cases, and regardless of your status, it just doesn’t make sense to risk it going through that nasty airport (though I get why he wants to wait to see what happens to you, but geez – employees should just be allowed to say “no” right now without any blowback).

        1. Meredith*

          Well, I don’t think the city of Philadelphia does, but one of the suburban cases is the town next to ours. Regardless, I feel safer with him home than around multiple crowds of unknown people.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            I should have said the Greater Philly area, which includes Montgomery County, has it.

        2. Jessica S.*

          IMO, there’s no reason at all to cancel the flight over 5ish cases in all of Pennsylvania. I just flew from PHL to LAS and back a week ago and had zero issues at all. Flying is perfectly safe.

          –Jessica

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Again – that’s of the people they’ve actually tested. They’re not testing everyone who gets sick. And community spread is a thing and you have no earthly clue how many sick people have come up and through those airports. Flying is not perfectly safe – stop it.

          2. Antilles*

            I just flew from PHL to LAS and back a week ago and had zero issues at all.
            Just for the record, you can’t actually say this due to the incubation period before you show symptoms – according to the latest research by Johns Hopkins, 97.5% of people show symptoms within 11 days of getting the coronavirus…which conversely means that 2.5 % don’t (for reference, this is basically the same odds of rolling snake eyes on a pair of dice). Also, around 1% of people don’t show symptoms until 14 days or later. So it’s within the realm of possibility that you could have picked up coronavirus on your return flight and just aren’t aware of it yet.
            Not saying you should have canceled the trip, nor that everybody should immediately ground all planes – it’s a personal decision as to what risks are acceptable. But medically speaking, it’s too soon for you to confidently say ‘zero issues at all’ because you’re still well within the period of time that you wouldn’t yet know.

  25. Maeve*

    We’ve been told that people who are sick shouldn’t work but part-time employees still only have the state-mandated paid sick leave (at least we have that) and the PTO for full-time hourly employees is very stingy. I manage one employee who has the ability to work from home and was sick all last week so he did that–he’s new so he hadn’t accrued any PTO yet. Our customer facing areas are theoretically being sanitized more but it’s up to each manager to figure it out, so I don’t know what changes have actually been made. In the admin building, where I work, there is a thing of cleaning wipes in the breakroom but I looked at them closely and it turns out they don’t disinfect soooo…I’m just trying to avoid touching things and washing my hands a lot.

  26. Anon for No Reason*

    Finance for a F500 company with a few thousand employees spread across several buildings in Midtown Manhattan. People are a little more alarmed around here due to the extreme population density and limited testing capabilities as Cuomo is still fighting for approval for private labs. I saw lots of gloves on the subway this morning.

    We all took our laptops home over the weekend to ensure everyone can connect remotely. No one wants to have to go that route – it is very, very hard to work with many large spreadsheets on a little laptop screen and being in the city, most people living within the five boroughs (aka me) don’t have space for a true office setup with multiple monitors. I’m used to using three at my desk. It would take me twice as long to get any reporting done.

    I have a hunch that everyone who can work from home will have to should an employee test positive. Unfortunately, in this industry, a lot of people will not have that option lest we want to show blank air on television.

    1. Anon for No Reason*

      My husband, on the other hand, is a physician. His hospital is not currently one of the ones housing patients – I believe most positive cases are getting funneled to NYP/Columbia but it’s likely only a matter of time. He will not have the option of forgoing work unless he gets sick. And if he gets sick, I get sick… can’t imagine how a quarantine in a studio apartment would work.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yeah, quarantining in a studio with two people would be rough – you don’t really have anywhere to go.

        I live in a studio as well and work from home full-time, but, like you, I don’t have the space for a true home office setup. I have my laptop and one external monitor that’s about 21” that I hide away beside furniture at the end of the day (laptop goes back in its travel bag and in my coat closet at night), and I work from my dining room table. If push comes to shove and you do end up having to work from home, do you have the room to get at least one external monitor and put it away somewhere when you don’t need it? They even have smaller foldable/portable monitors on the market that may help you in a pinch.

        1. Anon for No Reason*

          That’s what my coworker and I were just looking into – purchasing external monitors. I could probably find somewhere to stick one. We keep enough crap on the floor as it is, what’s one more thing? We’re also planning to move to a two bedroom place in May so it would be temporarily stored somewhere inconvenient.

          I was just notified that my office will be doing a dry WFH run later this week. I just deeply hope it’s not tomorrow or Wednesday as the bulk of our reporting runs Tuesday and spills into Wednesday.

          I’m personally not too worried about getting sick as we’re both young and healthy, but his proximity to potential cases concerns me to some degree.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            If you and your coworker decide to purchase monitors, ask your boss if the company will either buy it outright for you all or reimburse you for the expense before you buy it yourselves. This really should be a cost they absorb.

          2. Curmudgeon in California*

            Some of the newer TV set can be used as monitors, too, so check yours.

            1. Ego Chamber*

              Yeah, you’d save a lot of money by buying a small TV instead of a computer monitor, this was a very common workaround we suggested all the time when I worked at an electronics store. As long as it has an HDMI port, it should work (remember to get an HDMI cable) but check reviews to see if there are any issues using it as a monitor with whatever brand of laptop you have.

    2. Fitzwilliam Darcy*

      A family member in Manhattan is voluntarily quarantining himself after one of his higher-ups was confirmed to have C19. UGH. The whole company is closed and they’re working from home as able.

      Family member’s roommate is also voluntarily quarantining himself after his company closed and everyone is working from home.

      1. Nita*

        Also in Manhattan. The higher-ups haven’t sent us home yet. Not sure what they’re waiting for – someone testing positive? I hope they realize that at that point, anyone who’s been anywhere near them is also potentially exposed.

        1. What prevention?*

          That’s what I’m wondering, too. What are they waiting for!? The word prevention seems missing in a lot of dictionaries around where I work.

  27. londonedit*

    I live and work in London. The UK currently has just over 300 confirmed cases, and there have been three deaths here so far. Ridiculous panic-buying of loo roll notwithstanding, things haven’t reached general panic levels here yet.

    My employer has suspended all work-related foreign travel (we don’t do much as it is, but there’s a blanket ban nonetheless). Anyone who returns from any foreign travel at all is being asked to self-isolate and work from home (on full pay) for 14 days after they get back to the UK. And anyone who does happen to be diagnosed with coronavirus will be given full pay for the duration of their illness. Anyone who needs to take time off to care for someone with the virus will be given full pay for a maximum of two weeks.

    Apart from that, it’s all common-sense stuff – wash your hands, use sanitiser wipes on your computer/phone/desk, don’t come to work if you feel unwell. Everyone commutes to work by public transport here, so I’ve just been making sure I wash my hands properly when I get to work and when I get home again, and whenever I come back into the office building after being outside.

    1. AL (the other one)*

      I also work in London and commute through Clapham Junction daily…

      I have avoided snacking whilst commuting, and I now try to wash my hands as soon as I arrive at work…

      My employer has sent some very dry and boring memos around about what to do, but there’s been no mention of sick pay/medical status for the 2nd week of self isolation.

      I went round putting up handwashing signs in the bathrooms…

      Those of us that can work remotely are doing so.

      We’ve also had the international travel restrictions and sales people are reporting that many clients are cancelling in-person meetings.

    2. Agent Diane*

      Also UK. Also public transport. I wear gloves anyway so I’m happily keeping them on to press analogue buttons – shame it doesn’t work for touch screens.

      We’ve had a work email telling staff to stop nicking hand sanitiser from the toilets. IKR???

    3. Jules the First*

      And I’m also in London, but my office is totally panicking (possibly because we are international or possibly because 80% of our senior management are over 60). All travel is off limits unless returning to your home office; all staff who have travelled anywhere (including for personal reasons) need to WFH for 14 days after returning; all face to face meetings with clients are cancelled, as are all conferences and events. Internal meetings and events with more than 10 attendees are either cancelled outright or frowned on. We have hand sanitiser everywhere, signs up re hand washing, and are insisting everyone uses paper cups for their tea (I know!). Today’s indignity was an all-hands email requesting that staff “refrain from brushing their teeth” in office bathrooms. I’m half tempted to start brushing mine over the water fountains just to make a point.

      Based on the response when I tried to put through a new starter request today for someone joining my team in a couple of weeks, I think we will be mandatory WFH for non-core staff in the next week or so…which should be interesting for a company where 90% of staff do not have laptops.

  28. GymNerd 29*

    I work for a private tech company in Virginia. We’ve stopped all international travel and all discretionary travel. Anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms or has come into contact with someone with COVID-19 is required to self-quarantine for 15 days and cannot return without a doctor’s note. If we WFH, we don’t need to use PTO. If we are too sick to work, we’ll need to use our PTO. We’ve also been encouraged to to use video-conferencing for meetings versus having in-person meetings as much as possible.

  29. seattlejane*

    I work in private in-home childcare in Seattle, where most people who can are working from home at this point. I’ll continue to go to work to care for the children while my bosses work from home, unless anyone starts showing symptoms. I use public transport. I think it’s great that people who can work from home / practice social distancing. And, life goes on for those of us who can’t.

    1. Insert Clever Handle Here*

      Thank you for continuing to stay open for the families who aren’t able to work from home. I hope you, the kids you care for, and their families are all able to stay healthy.

  30. TomorrowTheWorld*

    My job is adjacent to a local government’s Health Care Agency and we have had many, many discussions about this, along with Very Important People on conference calls with the state, etc. It’s a bit tense.

  31. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    Perfect timing. This is my day off but I have to work because someone has a cold and the default now is to stay home “just in case.” I asked management last week if we have a plan in place and the response was to wait and see what happens. Also, Wash Your Hands. So many people just don’t. The best/worst excuse I heard was “I washed them this morning.”

    1. sam*

      OH my god. my stepmom and I went to CVS yesterday to buy something completely unrelated to corona virus and the soap and cleanser aisles were EMPTY. This is a real reckoning moment for society coming to grips with just how many people do not wash their hands on a regular basis.

      1. Anon for No Reason*

        We’re running low on hand soap so I asked my husband to grab some on his way home from the gym this morning. He just sent me a picture of like three lonely bottles on the shelf at Duane Reade.

        1. Dragoning*

          This is freaking me out because I haven’t been shopping in weeks and haven’t stocked up on soap in a while, because I haven’t needed any, and now I feel like I need to just because I won’t be able to buy it.

          1. Anon for No Reason*

            I went to Morton Williams yesterday, an NYC grocery chain with small stores in most locations, and they were fully stocked in everything, so it’s not everywhere. Go first thing in the morning if you’re worried about stock – most stores restock overnight. Not so helpful here, as many pharmacies and grocery stores are 24/7, but better advice for those who live in an area where stores close.

              1. curly sue*

                Our CostCo is completely out of toilet paper and paper towels, but that was already going to happen thanks to the Wet’suwet’en solidarity blockades cutting off the rail lines. It looks bad, but it’s just bad timing.

            1. sam*

              if you’re in NYC, I’ll also note that the Pioneer on the UWS appeared to be fully stocked with everything, while the Fairway looked like it had been ransacked. So now you know to go to the lowbrow market* :)

              *Pioneer is not my first choice for perishables, but for TP and bleach, it’s fine. My family and I describe it as “just a very large bodega”.

              1. Anon for No Reason*

                That’s actually not too far from me. I’m going to check out the new Morton Williams that opened on 59th and West End later today. It’s absolutely enormous and has its own bar attached called Morty’s. Since no one really lives down there, I can’t imagine it will be quite as bad as more central stores.

          2. Emily*

            pssst…. i can personally assure you that most shower gel is basically the exact. same. stuff. as hand soap. We just package it and market it differently. This does not apply for ANTIBACTERIAL hand soap, but for REGULAR soap it is a great substitute.

            1. Copenhagen*

              I’ve just used dish soap for my hands. If it gets my knives clean from raw chicken, I trust it to keep my hands germ free as well. And any spirit over 60% disinfects just as well as hand sanitizer. I used the denatured stuff that is used for cleaning/as fuel in out door stoves to wipe down all my electronics yesterday, since my store was out of alcohol wipes.

              1. Emily*

                dish soap is really similar too, but is harsher because it needs to cut thru more grease. with how often you wash your hands during the day I don’t recommend it for regular skin use unless you’re lotioning up all the time right after. same with rubbing alcohol, it will dry your skin right out. if you’re out of regular hand soap, go with shower gel most of the time and maybe like 2 – 3 dish soap washings per day when you feel especially germy, like when you get home from work.

          3. Oxford Comma*

            I would try smaller groceries, drug store and I would go earlier in the day. The big box stores can’t keep it in stock, but I noticed my neighborhood grocery store still had plenty of toilet paper and soap.

        2. NerdyPrettyThings*

          This makes me so glad that I spree-buy hand soap whenever Bath and Body Works has a sale.

      2. Jaid*

        However, Bath and Body Works is chock full of hand soap, lotion, and candle. It however, was out of hand sanitizer.

        1. Blerpborp*

          Weirdly, hand sanitizer is sold out everywhere here except Bath and Body works! The one I went to on Saturday had tons! (I was about to say no cases in my area yet but did a quick google and today there is the first- one “presumptive” case in the county where I work, so I’m glad I got hand sanitizer and toiler paper when I did!)

      3. Bostonian*

        Ha! This is the ONE TIME I’m actually kinda glad that my husband buys at least a 2-month supply of all essential household items because he hates shopping.

      4. fposte*

        I cynically suspect that quite a few people who are panic-buying soap and cleanser aren’t washing any more than anybody else; it’s the same logic that I use when I feel I’ve read a book just by downloading it to my Kindle.

      1. a small owl*

        OMG that’s an amazing comment.

        I overheard an older elementary school kid and her mom talking after church yesterday – the kid had drawn a smiley face on her palm, and her Mom was saying that might do that every morning, to make sure she was washing her hands very well during the day (the idea being if you got home from school and could still see the smiley face, you weren’t washing well enough).

    2. Meredith*

      I’ve heard hourly. Like, obviously wash in/wash out of the house and your office, wash them before you eat, wash them after playing with animals, and wash them after using the bathroom. But god, now that I’m thinking about this so much I have the urge to just go wash my hands…

      And I’m running low on clorox wipes, which apparently are no longer available anywhere in the US… should have gotten some a week ago.

      1. Sarah in Boston*

        They are. I just bought chlorox wipes (technically I bought Lysol wipes) in JobLot in MA. And that’s a remainder/odd lots chain, so there ought to be plenty of regular stores around with stock.

        1. Windchime*

          My local Target had disinfectant wipes and TP this weekend. They weren’t my normal brand but I was able to pick some up. I have several containers of liquid hand soap and, if that’s gone, I can switch to bars.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          I don’t think most paper towels can survive being submerged in soapy water for days without disintegrating and if you’re going to use cloth, just wipe the surface down with dish soap/bleach water on a kitchen towel or use alcohol in a spray bottle?

          Disinfecting wipes are a convenience item. Making your own is less convenient than using the method they were intended to replace.

    3. Curmudgeon in California*

      Yikes! I wash my hands even at home when I use the bathroom, because ewww. First thing I do when fixing food is wash my hands. There are sinks right there in most homes for that very reason…

  32. writerbecc*

    Hi from Seattle. It’s…weird around here right now. Most of the major employers (Amazon, Microsoft, Expedia, Boeing, Facebook) have told employees to work from home until the end of the month. My wife works for a state school and her campus is closed for the next two weeks, so she has a meeting this morning to figure out how they’re going to make that work. She can’t really do most of her job remote.

    I’m waiting to see if my office is going to implement an all-remote policy. We already have a telecommute 1 day a week policy, I don’t know if they’re going to expand it. They disinfected the office over the weekend. We’ve been told to work from home if we feel under the weather, but that’s about it so far.

    I’m washing my hands so much my skin is cracking.

      1. writerbecc*

        I have about four different hand lotions I cycle between; one of them’s high in shea butter, another has oatmeal in it. The issue is I have eczema on my fingers and washing my hands so often irritates it. But I go nowhere without hand cream these days :)

    1. Not So Little My*

      Spouse and I work in tech for different large employers in Seattle. Both of us are working from home (eating all the foods and trying to keep from driving each other crazy), and our employers have told us to work from home until the end of March. All of my company and team meetings have moved online, and non-critical business travel is cancelled. My team turned all our video screens on in our standup this morning, which helped me feel less isolated.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Same, both of us working from home in Seattle area. Neither of us have end dates yet for the work from home precaution – I was told to plan for a month just in case. I also could go to the offices as they’re still open (and the commute is probably amazing!) but there are probably so few people around it’s not worth it.

        The antibacterial soap and lotion section was completely cleaned out of our Fred Meyer yesterday, but plenty of other types of soap like body washes were in stock. I didn’t check the TP section (we stocked up at Costco before it was a thing). They were oddly out of tofu too, although I hope that’s unrelated!

        The kids still have school in our district but one of the teachers said about a quarter of students are out (caution, not illness) anyway. I know they’re being pretty strict about hand washing, so that’s good to build better habits. I still have to make spring break plans for them, assuming everything will be on track in early April given that all the camps involve day trips to places like museums and fun centers.

  33. TimeCat*

    I will say I am genuinely concerned they will close my office (which has my kid’s daycare) and my employer will just tell everyone to work at home and ignore the fact that, with daycare closed, I will have no childcare and will not really be able to work.

    I guess at least we have the telework option.

    1. Mama Bear*

      A lot of folks are worried about this. If they close schools, they will likely close daycares or at least the childcare in those schools. People who still have to work will struggle with no childcare. I’m also worried about people who work in childcare because it’s very likely they will be laid off or struggle financially if a closure goes on too long.

      If you do WAH with a kid around, ask for flexibility. I worked most before my spouse left for the office, when the kid went for a nap, was at a friend’s house, was playing with something, was watching a movie….I fully admit movies were my go-to when I had a meeting. I took my Skype call in the kitchen with the kid watching TV in the living room.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      I don’t know your details, but is there any way you could do part-days? I’ve known a lot of parents who could do a believable half-day of work, even with kids home. (Some email checking throughout the day, a couple of hours when the kid is asleep….)

      1. TimeCat*

        I think my spouse and I would have alternate schedules. I know my regular babysitter is $20/hr and with demand potentially even higher, there is just no way I can afford that full time.

    3. Ranon*

      Ask one of the daycare workers if they’re willing to come work at your place if there’s a closure? We’re floating that idea plus asking one or two other folks with kids at our center of they’d like to share, should it come to a closure- we’re all geographically close so it’s certainly doable. And particularly if your workers wouldn’t be paid for a closure there’s some mutual benefit

    4. nm*

      I very much hope that the office would be understanding in that situation. Best of luck to all of you.

  34. Lily in NYC*

    I work in a quasi-governmental office and our CEO keeps telling people they are overreacting and it’s not a big deal. Because he REALLY doesn’t want us to start working from home. We have two employees with close connections to the sick family in Westchester and all we did was tell them to work from home for a few days. Our senior staff is meeting about it right now so maybe things will change today. I don’t think we will take action until the Mayor starts telling staffers to work from home. It seems like private companies here in NYC are taking it much more seriously. I know Columbia University is closed this week. I have a feeling our CEO is going to have to start changing his attitude very soon.
    My sister is the #2 at a Federal agency and she shut their Seattle branch – the public may not enter the building and the staffers are working from home.
    Random: I have NEVER seen the NYC subways looking so nice and clean.

    1. NYC NFP*

      Columbia University isn’t closed. They aren’t holding classes today or tomorrow in order to get everything set up for remote classes for the rest of the week. The university is open and no Columbia student, faculty, or staff has been diagnosed with COVID-19. This is how misinformation spreads.

      My organization has banned all international business travel and domestic travel must be approved by the Director. We are getting our network set up so that people can work remotely if needed, and encouraging people to hold meetings by phone or video rather than in person.

      We’re reviewing our contracts to see how much money we might lose if we need to cancel events, as well as thinking about how long we can wait before having to decide whether to cancel events. We’re analyzing our cash flow to determine how many months of overhead we have in case our fundraising events under-perform due to low attendance (or having to be canceled).

      Our staff is taking everything in stride; some of our Board members are more panicked though.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        By closed, I meant not holding classes. Pardon me for not using the perfectly correct term, but in no way did I imply that anyone there was infected with COVID19.

        1. NYC NFP*

          Thanks for clarifying; you may have meant “not holding classes” but that’s not what you wrote. (And classes are suspended for two days, not the entire week.) I didn’t say you implied anyone at Columbia was infected. I included that as additional information since you said the University was closed for a week and this is a thread about COVID-19; people may have wrongly drawn the conclusion that the entire school closed because of the virus, when both of those things would be wrong.

    2. Justin*

      Super empty this morning too, though people were still holding the poles with bare hands, like… don’t do that anyway yikes.

      1. Stormy Weather*

        Nobody was holding the railings going down the stairs when I took the train this morning, but the crowd was about the same.

        1. fposte*

          I do worry about the collateral damage from things like people falling downstairs, not getting treatment for severe non-virus health problems, etc.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Yeah – I can’t go up or down stairs without using the railings. But that is specifically what hand sanitizer is for – disinfecting while you are out and about.

  35. Can I get a Wahoo?*

    Elementary Ed Thread. I’m at a private school with lots of resources so we’re doing a lot of planning for distance learning and teachers having to take time off, but my friends at public schools are sharing that they haven’t gotten any messages yet.

    1. Retail not Retail*

      My mom is a special ed assistant and has already had flu A and B rip through the school.

      She’s hourly and so worried about a quarantine financially. I told her to talk to her union rep and go on up the chain until she gets an answer.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        We have been decimated by flu as well. I think we are wrapping up – it’s definitely tapered off. It’s hard to worry about what *might* happen when we are grappling fiercely with what is already happening.

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      Public middle school. No messages except emphasis on cleanliness/handwashing, making sure students wash hands (already stocked up on sanitizer).

      Related: This morning I finalized transferring an OCD student to Homebound status for the remainder of the year. I worried her parents would resist, but they are relieved. I thought I might get some pushback from district but it sailed through. Her stress level was increasing and there was NO learning taking place within that stress bubble. I am so happy this worked out. We have no confirmed cases in our county.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        As someone who suffers from OCD with fear of contamination as one of my top triggers and compulsions: thank you for working with that student to get her out of there. Everyone likes to brush off our concerns with, “Oh, it’s not that bad” or “It’s just in your head,” but when your mind is going a mile a minute, you can’t hear that – you just have to get away from the thing that’s going to infect you at any cost. You are absolutely right that she would have been too terrified to learn anything.

        1. Cymru*

          Reminds me of that Dumbledore line, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I don’t understand how a school without any kind of remote learning system already in place can implement one for their entire student body in any reasonable amount of time.

      Additionally the student at home needs a decent internet connection for any kind of video or teleconferencing software. This will disadvantage the already economically disadvantaged.

      1. Shirls*

        Yeah, there is literally no way my (large, urban, public) school district could effectively take learning online. We have not received any guidance on what would happen to teaching and learning if schools close, although we have gotten guidance on what the district expects us as teachers to do if we are quarantined (sick time). I am also concerned about what happens if any of our district’s 100+ schools close – will we all close?

      2. Anonymato*

        Kiddo’s school said they’d provide both online and hard copies of materials, exactly because of this, but I wonder how/when that is happening. I mean, do they send the materials now and have parents hold on to them “in case”? Or try to get them to parents somehow once schools close? (Ha!)

        In the meantime, how is it helpful to wash hands only before lunch? Kids need to wash hands when they get to school, after recess and before snacks too. We’ve been making the point way before coronavirus, and it’s still not happening. I makes me truly mad that the county “recommends” but doesn’t mandate teachers to oversee this.

    4. Nita*

      So my kid’s school hasn’t been making sure the kids do any kind of hand cleaning until last week. For real. They wouldn’t even give them time to put sanitizer on their hands, or run over to the sink in the cafeteria to wash, while they wait for their class to get called for lunch. They had a really bad flu season, and anyway cold and flu aren’t exactly a new thing, but you’d think the administration doesn’t know hand washing cuts down on germ spread. I even brought it up with the principal two years ago. No result. It takes a new scary virus to get them to follow basic hygiene rules. Why?!

      1. TeacherBot*

        I work at a HS and I’m just hoping that they decide to close schools of/when it shows up around here. The thought of using up all of my precious sick leave days is abhorrent, and my school never has enough subs anyway. We cover each other’s classes during our planning time. So what point should I self-quarantine, and pass the burden on to my colleagues? And if a quarantine lasts longer than five days, I’ll be out of them anyway!
        The uncertainty is what will get me.

        1. Nita*

          I’m sorry you’re dealing with that. Teachers have it the worst. One of my son’s teachers does a lot of caregiving for her sick mom… she must be feeling so trapped right now. If you’re union, I hope the union will step up and get everyone to not be penalized (and possibly paid?) for taking more sick days.

    5. more anon than usual*

      My school district (in Oregon) has a confirmed case at one of our middle schools and they decided not to close the school. Just told sick people to call in sick, with no special reassurances of any kind in place (I personally have lots of sick leave available, but…) . My school (which is a different school in the same district) is not even cancelling/postponing things like class parties or non-academic club meetings.

      That’s…a decision all right. Our union is not screaming about it, either, which is yet one more reason that I am not impressed with the leadership of our particular union.

  36. matcha123*

    I work in Japan as a ‘part-time’ worker. We have daily announcements over the PA reminding us to wash our hands, gargle, and to cover our coughs. Full-time staff are allowed to work from home a few days a week or can come into work slightly earlier or later to avoid the crowds on the train.
    I was told that I could choose to work from home, but since I wouldn’t be able to access my work files or the internet, it doesn’t seem much worth it.

    1. TiffIf*

      This is the first I’ve heard gargle being recommended. Is gargleing effective? (Also, gargle what?)

      1. TomorrowTheWorld*

        Very warm water and salt are good to gargle if you have a scratchy/sore throat associated with allergies or a cold/flu. (But not if you have strep throat, that needs antibiotics)

        1. fposte*

          It’s soothing for bacterial sore throats, too; it just won’t cure them (but it doesn’t cure viral ones either).

    2. Mameshiba*

      Also in Japan here and my company pulled together a work-from-home/flex time policy at the end of February once the government announced to close schools. We have a “special circumstances” leave type for parents/at risk people that I believe is paid. International business trips prohibited, I believe domestic as well, and no in-person meetings over a certain number of people. Hand sanitizer and signs everywhere, everyone is in masks.

      Unfortunately our head office in the US is behind on this since it’s just now becoming a serious issue in the US. As late as mid-Feb they were still planning a large in-person conference for March with hundreds of attendees from all over the country and some flying in from the US. They’re not laughing at our concerns now.

  37. miss_chevious*

    My company has been issuing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantine procedures for those returning from high risk locations for over a month (much of our work can be done remotely). As of this week, that includes restrictions on visitors to the office, including vendors, company partners and clients, etc. Group meetings over 25 are cancelled.
    Additionally, all of our facilities have engaged additional cleaning services to sanitize common areas and points of access multiple times a day. The company also has a central internal web page with information about the virus (including many of the links Alison provides above) and location-specific guidance about our current policies.

  38. ABinSC*

    I work in an admin-type capacity for a large medical school/teaching hospital that has a huge presence in the community. Right now it’s a weird combination of remaining calm to avoid panicking the general public, whilst at the same time girding our loins for battle. Luckily my department does not have direct patient contact, and we will be able to do a large part of our work at home.

    1. Anon for No Reason*

      How are medical students being treated? I know a number of schools have pulled out of clinical rotations or barred from hospital access, while others are considered potential resources should situations escalate.

      And I know a lot of schools are cancelling Match Day ceremonies next Friday, which makes me sad but is understandable. Opening my husband’s results was such a special moment for us.

      1. ABinSC*

        Other than suspended travel, classes and rotations are carrying on as usual right now. Our state only has 2 confirmed and a handful of potential, so behind the scenes the university is getting things lined up while there is still time.

    2. Lovecraft Beauty*

      Same. My higher-ups are being super aggressive about “be ready to work from home” but we can’t shut down entirely because we are literally one of the institutions researching a COVID-19 vaccine. And being on campus is inherently kind of risky, because this is where the patients in bad shape come!

  39. Count Boochie Flagrante*

    So far, cancelling travel between sites (woohoo! I don’t have to wear a tie tomorrow! Bigwig’s not coming!) and kicking up janitorial services. They just announced cases in my state late last week, so I’m waiting to see what happens next.

    That, and loading on the overtime because our clients are freaking out and overburdening all our systems and phone lines.

  40. jamberoo*

    SF tech here. I don’t know anyone who’s going to the office anymore, we can all work remotely and are through the month.

    Even better, a huge group of us just returned from a week-long global conference in Paris — constant mingling with coworkers from multiple countries. China, Japan, and Singapore were disinvited; South Korea arrived the day before their country was marked a no-go. I stayed extra days to enjoy the city (Louvre the day before it closed) and have been staying home ever since to be on the safe side.

    1. Competent Commenter*

      My husband works in SF tech and has a 2+ hour commute on public transit each way. He telecommutes one day/week. Given that much of their work is computer based (and all of my husband’s is, unless they want an in-person meeting), and their company has had difficulty recruiting enough people with the doctoral-level skills they need, I’ve long thought (and muttered to husband) that they should offer telecommuting as a standard thing. My husband has been there less than two years and has hesitated to rock the boat. He also feels like he’s more productive in the office and appreciates the face time. But they’ve announced that everyone’s working from home now starting this week. I’m hoping that this will trigger some long-term cultural changes there and he’ll telecommute more. I’m essentially single-parenting because of his commute and it’s killing me too!

    2. B*

      California event independent contractor here, all my work for the month has been cancelled. Will see what May has to offer.

      1. Glitsy Gus*

        I have several friends who work in events here in SF and some of them are starting to worry they won’t be able to pay the bills if this goes too long, especially those that work at the Opera House and the other city buildings.

        I hope you’re able to have work pick back up soon.

    3. Glitsy Gus*

      I’m also SF Tech. Our Tokyo office is closed with everyone there working from home until further notice. We’ve also been told that national travel is fine, but no one should be traveling internationally for work without talking it over with the Brass (we have offices all over the world, but so far Tokyo is the only one in a hot spot). There was a conference that was supposed to happen next month, but it’s looking like that will be cancelled. I’m not a conference attending person, or even very much of a business travel person, though, so most of this part doesn’t’ directly affect me.

      For us locally, so far it’s pretty much business as usual, though managers are encouraged to be very liberal with WFH options right now and we are not supposed to come in if we are sick. We also have way more sanitizer and soap around than we used to, which is good.

  41. Annie o Mous*

    Nothing, which is a little surprising. We are in state, without confirmed cases, so maybe that’s why. My only concern is we work with a vulnerable population, kids and people who may or may not have access to quality medical care. I feel like they should have said something by now.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’m near Chicago, which doesn’t have a *ton* of confirmed cases but a worker at a Chicago school was diagnosed late last week and she went back to work for a week after coming home from a cruise … feels like she should have self-quarantined for a few days? Also, she’s a paraprofessional working with medically fragile special ed students sooo… yeah I really hope that doesn’t have huge ripple effects.

      Also, trade shows and conventions are cancelling left and right which is not great for our economy.

      1. ...*

        Live in Chicago and I’m SO MAD at that lady. I hope none of those children suffer because they have health issues. I’m just incensed at people not thinking of others.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I know that kids and teens seem to be less affected over all, but if they already have health issues… yeah, someone dropped the ball there big time. Not to mention other teachers she could have spread it to, and kids’ families…

    2. Majnoona*

      I’m in a state with no cases because it’s one of six states that hasn’t started testing *at all*. The latest we heard was they will begin testing, but they have no tests, and will test only using CDC guidelines, whatever they are. So, no idea how prevalent it is here.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yup, and some that are only testing if you appear to be on death’s door. Otherwise, you gotta wait it out at home and pray you don’t have it (they either don’t have enough or don’t have any testing kits).

        2. Archaeopteryx*

          I’m in Seattle and only patients with severe symptoms are even close to reliably being tested. Asymptomatic patience, even with exposure, are being denied testing, as are those with only mild cough and fever unless they get a reporter to call and ask why they aren’t allowed to be tested. I’m guessing they just don’t have the amount of tests and her staff needed to test everyone preventively, which is ridiculous because asymptomatic people can spread the disease.I am in Seattle and only patients with severe symptoms are even close to reliably being tested. Asymptomatic patients, even with exposure, or being denied testing, as are those with only mild cough and fever unless they get a reporter to call and ask why they aren’t allowed to be tested. I’m guessing they just don’t have the amount of tests and/or staff needed to test everyone preventively, which is ridiculous because asymptomatic people can spread the disease

          Also although many employers Such as mine are allowing people to self quarantine Without losing pay or PTO, they’re only allowing that you’ve officially been told to self isolate by a medical professional. Which you’re not going to be if you can’t be tested. So there are a lot of people who aren’t allowed to stay home from work yet because they can’t get tested.

          1. Archaeopteryx*

            Dang I don’t know why my speech to text copy pasted that entire paragraph twice. If my pre-carpal tunnel wasn’t so bad I would type everything on this website out by hand by now. But it’s just so much easier to talk!!

    3. Annie O Mous*

      Also I get in to work earlier than most everyone. I have been wiping down what common areas I can with Lysol wipes. Kitchen, microwaves, copier, handles of stuff. I gives me peace of mind. At this point I just don’t want to get sick with anything, let alone Corona.

  42. 4Sina*

    First active case here in Missouri AND the family members of the positive case broke quarantine. Same area as the cultural institution I work in – we have weekly emails updating us on policies, monitoring the situation, and risk and safety tips (“don’t touch your face!”), but I assume this will escalate. Because we have so many programs and events, I imagine we’ll be seeing some interesting roadblocks ahead. No word on working remotely; it has been discouraged in the past.

    1. Little Girl Blue*

      I’m in the St Louis area and am spending today baffled by the man who broke their family’s quarantine status.
      Our mail production facility (the building I work in) has added several sanitizer stations (in addition to the ones we previously had by bathrooms).
      The company globally has limited travel to only essential meetings with higher approvals needed to authorize a trip. No travel between company facilities at this time. I canceled a client work trip to the east coast that was supposed to happen Wednesday.
      They are now also talking about limiting contact between the office side of the building and the production side in order to protect the essential production workers. The people on my side of the wall are more able to work from home, but the mail production cannot be done remotely.
      Final steps have not been put in place on the division internally, but now that Missouri has a confirmed case, I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens this week.

      1. 4Sina*

        I feel horrible for everyone exposed, and I really am trying not to villainize this guy in every way but I think about all of the people potentially exposed needlessly that night who may not be able to afford to take time off, get medical help, or who will actually be at risk of dying.

        We have a few international trips that are difficult if not impossible to facilitate remotely that are still a go but I assume we will follow suit with what it sounds like yours is doing with travel; likewise, we depend on critical staff who cannot work remotely.

      2. Little Girl Blue*

        Since I posted this, we received an updated travel email this morning that we are now supposed to limit incoming visitors as well. Meaning, no hosting clients or vendors at onsite meetings that aren’t absolutely necessary. Mechanics, cleaning services, things like that are exempt.

      3. Jaid*

        I just read the story and the man took his daughter to a Father-Daughter dinner dance.

        ಠ╭╮ಠ

    2. samecoin*

      the worse part about it was that it clearly came from a place overwhelming privilege. Growing up in the area and Knowing the schools and communities involved it was clear this was a case of “The rules do not apply to me, peasants”

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup – that dude is an ass. Anyone who winds up infected because of him should consider suing.

    3. AngelicGamer, the Visually Impaired Peep*

      Is that the family who had someone go from O’Hare to Union Station to St Louis that tested positive? Or is this someone completely different?

      1. 4Sina*

        It’s the same family. The young woman DID do the right thing once she started experiencing symptoms, but her father broke quarantine despite promising to self-quarantine with the rest of the family.

        The incredible entitlement of knowing you could be a carrier for a pandemic but deciding to take your teenage daughter to a father-daughter dance (creepy!) anyway with so little regard to the people who can’t afford medical care or to take time off is astounding. I’d say it’s a heavy handed allegory for St. Louis if it wasn’t real life. Glad everyone in the thread here also recognizes it for what it is – privilege.

        Some other cases tied to local companies are breaking in the area as well (you can find out who by googling). So, we’re in for an interesting week.

  43. Our very own Lisbeth Salander*

    I work in academia in Europe. My University has decided to advise all staff and students against travelling to risk areas, and all planned visits from risk areas are to be cancelled until further notice.
    Staff and students who have recently visited risk areas are to work/study from home for a two-week period after returning home.

    There’s been one case in another department, no serious illness. A handful of people who’ve been to risk areas are in self-quarantine. There’s a lot of information and we’re very calm about the whole thing.

  44. KGB*

    My sister’s company used it as an excuse to cancel the annual trip for top performers. They travel overseas to an area not currently impacted. In prior years they have traveled to this same location when American’s were being murdered and officers patrolled the beaches with AK47’s. There was no question of canceling the trip then but they canceled this year. Everyone involved is positive they canceled to save money vs the actual virus. It’s just the virus is a better excuse.

  45. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    As far as what my employer is doing for employees — we only have three cases in Indiana, last I looked, but they cancelled all business travel out of state so that people didn’t feel forced to make decisions about whether they were or were not interested in going through airports. My whole department up to the director level is all remote anyway, so that’s not an issue. I’m not sure what’s going on on-site as far as restrictions or whatnot, but people are definitely being encouraged to stay home if they are having any respiratory symptoms, and we have enough PTO that that’s reasonable IMO. And it’s a hospital system during flu season, so they’re already dripping in signs about hand-washing, respiratory symptoms, hand sanitizer everywhere, cleaning, etc.

  46. Silver Radicand*

    I work at an airport, managing a department of the parking. Our traffic has been way down in the last week, and most of my employees don’t keep very high sick time balances so I just had a conversation with them that we would be doing our best to try to keep as many hours available as possible, to minimize the impact to them, but that I’d have them doing some less typical tasks such as cleaning to do so.We, of course, have gloves and as much hand sanitizer as I could get and my employees are very aware of the coronavirus as they regularly handle customer items. My corporate, unfortunately, is not offering any additional sick or vacation time, so most of my direction has been based on what I myself have read.

  47. Gazebo Slayer*

    My office has said “if you’re sick [with anything] stay home” and is offering sick leave, though I’m not sure how much – unfortunately, I and one other person in the company are 1099 contractors with no sick leave and a role essential to our daily supply chain that involves physical goods and thus can’t really be done from home. My boss has sent mixed messages in the past – he has told me taking unpaid days off for sickness are OK, but repeatedly and anxiously asks me about how I’m feeling if I do and has definitely implied he expected one doctor’s visit to take care of my chronic condition right away. He also has come in apparently contagious himself because, as he said, his job (and mine?) just needs to be done, and when I was working a second job and having trouble combining that with the sometimes 50-60 hour weeks here he told me disdainfully “I work a lot more than you do.” So I don’t know what they expect from me, and I’m afraid they’re just going to tell me my contract services are no longer needed if I ever get sick for more than a day or two. Which… I guess is part of the deal when you’re a contractor, but this job is the vast majority of my income, I have few other prospects, and I only am paid $16 an hour in Boston.

    1. Cor*

      Yikes, are you sure they haven’t illegally misclassified you as an independent contractor? This level of control over your hours doesn’t seem consistent with it, but I’m not a lawyer. Might be worth looking into though.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Probably. But I have a godawful work history, no in-demand skills, and no bargaining power, so I’m not doing or saying anything about it. I’m lucky to have this job at all – I’ve had much worse.

  48. RabbitRabbit*

    I work in a combined hospital/clinic/med school/university that has successfully treated a COVID-19 patient and is well-equipped for pandemic infectious disease cases. We have solid plans, frequent updates (sometimes daily as needed), and a hospital response team coordinating everything. The CDC guidelines are being followed for travel and other cases.

    Current plans are strengthened restrictions on inpatient visitors, cancelled all business conference travel for at least a month, self-quarantine based on return from ‘hot spots’, and discouraging congregating in very large groups.

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      Oh, and we’re being encouraged to stay home if ‘flu-like symptoms’ are being experienced. Work-from-home requirements are not in place for office/non-essential staff yet.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        “Encouraged” is not the right word – “told” is. We have a decent PTO plan here, so that’s good.

    2. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

      I also work for a health system/university, one that’s kind of a leader in this area, so it’s been non-stop over here. I’m in PR and our team has been doing round-the-clock media and outreach work, as well as helping with our extensive pandemic planning process.

      We’re still finalizing our PTO/self-quarantine but we’re limiting visitors, cancelling travel and requiring self-quarantines from certain areas/clinical staff and recommending virtual meetings. I’m currently working to potentially cancel all on-site events for the next few months. I feel like COVID is taking over my life! It’s all we talk about or work on lately.

  49. Catalyst*

    We are all well set up to work from home, so self quarantine is not a general concern for us. We have been canceling big meetings and/or gatherings and a lot of travel. Lots of emails have come out with what to do if you recently traveled etc. I think my company has been handling it quite well.

  50. Rosemary*

    Public university in the U.S. (non-affected region) here. We have signs up in the bathrooms and admins emailing us to tell us not to panic.

    Meanwhile, we have a major annual conference coming up in May with ca. 3000 attendees (mostly U.S. and Canada, but some from Europe, especially the U.K.) and we’re trying to figure out if and when that would need to be canceled.

    1. Justme, the OG*

      I also have a large industry conference at the end of May and it was suggested I hold off on all travel arrangements just in case. There are no confirmed cases there yet but it’s a large port city and popular with tourists for spring break.

  51. Please make it stop*

    We received an email last night that all offices were now work from home for the next two weeks. I’m already remote, so it doesn’t make a huge difference for me. All non-essential travel has been cancelled. I have a trip planned for the first week of May that I have not yet booked. I asked if it was considered non-essential and was told to keep in touch with the organizers for guidance which surprised me. Important travel, yes, but I’m not sure I would consider it essential.

    I’m a little concerned that our department is 24/7 and deals with life or death situations. I’m working on a plan for what happens if we have multiple people out. It could get a little scary.

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Goodness, could you share a little more about your industry type? Is your trip in May work related or do you mean your firm is monitoring/approving your personal travel as well?

      1. Jules the First*

        I’ve been asked to inquire about destinations on staff personal travel, but so far we’re not prohibiting it, just demanding that they wfh for two weeks after they return.

  52. sam*

    My company has updated their policy multiple times since the crisis began.

    Generally – if you don’t feel well at all, for any reason, work from home. International work travel is now banned completely, domestic work travel is discouraged and can only occur with company leadership approval. If you’ve taken personal travel or come into contact with anyone at risk, you are required to self-quarantine for 14 days (work from home).

    (we have fairly comprehensive work from home capabilities).

    1. TiffIf*

      This is pretty much exactly what my company is doing right now. My particular office is in a state that does not have a record of an outbreak yet (there is a cruise passenger case who is currently in a local hospital but I’m hoping that proper protocols were followed in transferring a known positive case to the state and proper protocols are being followed at the hospital).

  53. coughita*

    Hi, all. I survived SARS in Beijing AND in Toronto, and MERS in Abu Dhabi! Here are some tips:

    1. Wash your hands.
    2. STOP. USING. MASKS. There is a shortage, and healthcare workers need them more than you do. They are only sterile for a very short time, and it’s wasteful. If YOU’RE sick, by all means, use a mask if you feel more comfortable.
    3. Hand sanitizer is good, plain old soap and water is far better. Out of hand sanitizer? Get some rubbing alcohol and aloe vera.
    4. Who is at risk: not healthy adults. I have chronic respiratory problems, and even I’m not a good candidate for, you know, coronavirus death.
    5. Go outside? Wash your hands. Your partner came home and you gave them a hug in their coat? Wash your hands, change your shirt.
    6. If you have children, PLEASE do not send them to school if they are at all sick. That’s in general, as a former teacher, but it’s really important now.

    1. Steve*

      There is zero alcohol available for sale in the greater Seattle area. It would make terrible hand sanitizer but there isn’t even any bleach. Some places have limited stocks of hyrdogen peroxide.

      1. coughita*

        Then just don’t use it, fam. You got soap? Do soap. Soap is better and won’t leave your (okay, MY) hands a cracked and bleeding mess!

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Except, if I just got off the elevator/subway/Uber etc., and want to sanitize quickly, soap isn’t really an option.

          1. coughita*

            Have you tried just eating your own hands? Healthy low-carb snack AND a great way to avoid touching subway railings!

            1. fposte*

              But please remember not to touch your mouth with your raw hands; hands should be cooked to a safe temperature before consuming.

          2. ...*

            My routine has just been come into work, wash hands and sanitize phone immediately, proceed with day. I’ve been skipping the very crowded bus in lieu of uber and I will say paying $12 instead of $2 to get to work is getting old. I might just start walking as its above 40 degrees and only 2.5 miles. I figure walking has to be good right? The streets aren’t so crowded that I need to brush up against anyone or anything.

          3. Avasarala*

            Don’t touch anything on public transport, use your sleeves or elbows to press button elevators. Wash your hands once you get there and don’t touch your face.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        I am not a doctor or healthcare professional, but if you guys are truly out of rubbing alcohol, peroxide, and disinfectant wipes and sprays of any kind for the foreseeable future, you may just have to buy the highest proof vodka you can find and put it in a spray bottle to use as a quickie disinfectant until you can get somewhere with soap and water.

        1. Copenhagen*

          Everything above 60% alcohol works which might make it difficult to find spirits that will do. But they do exist (I’m looking at you Stroh Rum 80%…).

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            For booze, anything that is above 120 proof is good (120 proof = 60% alcohol).

    2. Ferret*

      But note that most N95 masks available to the general public are designed for working with hazardous materials (e.g. for builders, carpenters) and don’t actually have any filter on the air going out so will do bugger all to protect anyone else

    3. AnonRN*

      The CDC is saying that sick persons can wear surgical masks (not the N95 masks, which honestly need to be fit-tested and can make it hard to breathe for people with chronic respiratory issues) to prevent droplets from spreading.

      I work in a hospital and our guidance says that if we’re treating a suspected case: N95 mask (we get fit tested annually) and eye protection. If we ourselves feel sick: call the employee health department for guidance. They have recently cancelled all travel to hot-spot areas (I don’t know how much of this was likely in the first place, but like many teaching hospitals we have an international group of medical residents.) Our union is pushing for any quarantine time to be paid by the state (we’re state employees).

  54. Delta Delta*

    I’m self-employed as an attorney so I can sort of make my own rules. If I have court appearances I think I still have to appear in person (my regular courts haven’t said otherwise yet), although I think if I was not feeling well and felt concerned they may allow me to call in. With clients, anyone who’s told me they don’t feel well, I reschedule or meet with by phone/skype.

    I am concerned that I have a conference to attend in Chicago later this week, and I’m not sure if it’ll be cancelled. I am really looking forward to it, but I also completely understand if it gets cancelled.

    1. sam*

      FYI, the federal court in lower manhattan (SDNY) just banned people who have traveled recently to the five hotspot countries (plus some other rules).

    2. Delta Delta*

      Updating: I just heard a court in my area has issued a standing order that if anyone (attorney or client) is exhibiting flu-like symptoms that they may call in to their hearings as long as they are not evidentiary hearings. This seems like a smart way to go.

    3. Liz*

      I’m an assistant to a quartet of self-employed attorneys — they’ve already reassured me that I can consider my sick leave unlimited for the duration, and we’ll work something out with regard to working from home. (For some reason no one wants coffee they haven’t prepared with their own hands right now, so that’s a big part of my duties gone.)

  55. AndersonDarling*

    I’m in healthcare and we are ready to implement work from home. But I’m worried about nurses and other health workers. So far, the only communication has been “make sure you have childcare plans.” But if you are a nurse, tech, or doctor and your kid’s school is closed and daycares are closed, what can you do? Not everyone has family to watch their kids.

    1. Sophie Hatter*

      I really wonder how healthcare facilities are faring… they’re the ones who need to be staffed more than ever, what happens if a bunch of workers stay home?

    2. Overeducated*

      Oh, that’s frustrating. School and day care ARE most people’s childcare plans. We don’t all have, or can afford, nannies on retainer.

  56. Ms. Cellophane*

    I work as a staffer for a law firm. They are staying on top of the status of things. But in the worst case scenario, staff does not have the ability to work from home. If we are forced to stay home, we will likely have to use PTO, which will SUCK. Attorneys have the ability to work remotely, but not staff.

    1. Mistress of the Calendar*

      Hello fellow law firm staffer! Our firm is finally starting to consider what’s necessary from a technical standpoint to allow assistants and paralegals to be able to work remotely, but I don’t know what’s being considered for the other staff (file room, mail, reception). We were told this morning in an all-hands meeting that if we need to stay home because we’re sick with anything, or have an at-risk relative at home, or were having anxiety attacks about the whole situation, or any other reason, to take the time off and not worry about it, and that if we wanted to drive or take a cab/Uber/Lyft instead of public transit, the office would cover the cost, no questions asked. It was a surprisingly generous standpoint from an office that’s been slow to move with the times, despite being in the San Francisco area.

      I was also personally told by my attorney that if I needed to work from home he’d make sure I got whatever I needed.

      My husband works at a Big Tech Company in Silicon Valley. The company shut down its campus late last week to all non-essential personnel, so he’s working from home for the next few weeks.

  57. Kitty Cathleen*

    Basically no one at my level at my job can work from home. I suppose if they truly wanted to set something up they could, but that’s not going to happen now. We’re being advised to wash our hands frequently and stay home if we’re ill, but there’s no discussion of what to do if you need more days off than you have available PTO. New hand sanitizer dispensers have been mounted near the doors and elevators. Anyone with a company-issued device has been mandated to bring it home. Any work-related travel has to be approved by an executive vice president.

    The impact is probably more noticeable at my employer for people who are higher up than I am. As someone doing day-to-day processing work, it almost feels like nothing has changed. I find that concerning.

  58. notMichelle*

    Staffing firm in a major metro area that has confirmed cases – we’ve been getting emails about best practices, limiting travel, cancelling training workshops, and now pushing for us to make sure that we have all the necessities to work from home (testing the apps, making sure there’s a good set up). Honestly, it feels like we’re getting ready to shut the offices down soon.

    1. Jack Be Nimble*

      I’m in a major metro area with about 15 confirmed cases – my office is cancelling international travel, encouraging remote work, and distributing hand washing posters. Our office tower has been noticeably less-busy lately, although public transit has been crowded as ever.

      That’s what really scares me – transit is really crucial in our city. So many people are dependent on the trains, and there are a lot of people who don’t have sick leave or health insurance using those same trains to commute. I’d be okay if I got sick, but what about my neighbors and fellow commuters who have to chose between working sick and missing rent?

      1. notMichelle*

        Yeah, I just heard that the head of Port Authority has corona, so that’s not good. I have to make several transfers for my commute and I just make sure I’m doing the best I can with preventative measures.

      2. Filosofickle*

        I’m basically a WFH hermit already but my partner travels to school by subway several days a week. If I get it, that’s probably how.

  59. saradactyl*

    I work in Austin and before SXSW was cancelled we were all going to be remote the entirety of next week. Now that the event is off we’re expected to be in the office barring our normal one remote day a week. The company is letting anyone who takes public transit use the company Uber account and we’ve cancelled almost all company travel.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      The company is letting anyone who takes public transit use the company Uber account

      I love this in theory, but rideshares are not anymore safe to travel in than trains and buses since you have no idea if your driver is sick and you’re in a much smaller space with sketchy ventilation. You also don’t know if any of the passengers they’ve picked up have had the virus either or whether the driver has been cleaning their vehicle between rides (sometimes they can’t).

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          This is true, but then I think about the Uber driver in NY who got it from that lawyer in Manhattan…yeah, still not safe enough for me (I’m stressing because I rely on rideshares to get me back and forth from appointments and I’ll need to take one Saturday morning – yeah).

  60. Sammy*

    Everybody who can isolate themselves should. It will help protect those who can’t. It will reduce the inevitable stress on the medical infrastructure. It will save lives.

    This is what I’m doing and I’m endlessly grateful that I’m able to (can work from home and do not have kids). The network is infected, leave the network if you can. Tested numbers in the U.S. mean nothing. There are certainly tens of thousands of cases and most of them are out touching stuff at Target right now.

    I socialize very little and I just found out that my partner’s mother, who I had dinner with and hugged at the end of February, has clients who frequently go on cruises. That’s all it takes. Thankfully since that day I have been out of the network nor do I have any symptoms so that’s at least one removed vector.

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      We’ve managed to test fewer than 2000 people in the US, last I checked. South Korea is testing 10,000 people a day. I worry about the 15-20% rate of infected people requiring hospitalization – that can bog down a health care system very fast.

      1. londonedit*

        Wow, latest figures are that nearly 25,000 people have been tested in the UK (population here is about 67 million). 319 people have tested positive so far but the numbers are continuing to go up every day at the moment (that’s up from 273 yesterday).

        1. Dragoning*

          The US Administration is trying very hard to pretend this basically isn’t happening right now.

      2. Majnoona*

        I’m in a state with no cases because it’s one of six states that hasn’t started testing *at all*. The latest we heard was they will begin testing, but they have no tests, and will test only using CDC guidelines, whatever they are. So, no idea how prevalent it is here.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      This is me, Sammy. I’ve only left my apartment once since this thing really started popping off here in the US, and I’m avoiding major gatherings altogether – this means I’ve had to exchange my tickets to the symphony for dates late in the spring (I may end up canceling everything if this doesn’t die down by early May).

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Not gonna lie – I’m mainly only concerned about keeping me and my mom safe as we both have underlying medical conditions that could make catching this virus deadly for us. I like to think that even if we were both perfectly healthy I’d be a good citizen and still keep my behind inside, but who knows? Maybe I’d be as blasé as I’ve seen other people be about it.

          1. Alexandra Lynch*

            Good to know.
            I just texted my ex, who has CHF, COPD, and diabetes, that if it got epidemic around here I’d pay to have groceries, cat food and litter, etc. delivered to him so that he didn’t have to go out to the grocery store with a lot of people who work jobs where they can’t take time off because there’s no paid sick leave.

  61. Beancat*

    I work for a placement company. The placement company says “we follow our client’s directive”. So if the office we’re placed at decides to stay open, there we are as well. As far as the office I’m placed at, they’re beginning to direct people to take their laptops home every night just in case. Other branches around the country are beginning to roll out exclusively working at home, but not here yet.

  62. Re'lar Fela*

    We are a domestic violence services agency. Our administrative office has been given clear directives to stay home as needed (thankfully we have a fairly generous sick leave policy). We’ve not yet discussed working from home, but I imagine that’s coming soon as our state now has two confirmed cases less than an hour away from us.

    We also operate a residential shelter and non-residential case management for clients, so that’s trickier. Our shelter is a 24/7/365 facility and our non-residential clients won’t stop needing case management, so for the time being we are just sanitizing everything like crazy and encouraging clients to let us know if they’re feeling sick so that we can a) get them medical care if needed, b) take extra precautions in terms of cleaning, and c) quarantine as we’re able so that illnesses don’t spread. Essentially we are taking a “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” approach for the moment. Our statewide DV coalition has sent out some best practices info for handling infectious diseases and has promised to stay in touch as the situation changes in our state. We’ll see what happens!

    1. Re'lar Fela*

      Oh, and I’m supposed to be flying to a conference on Sunday. No word on whether or not that’s still happening. [Insert shrug emoji here]

  63. Steve*

    I work at a small tech company in Kirkland, WA. A day or two after the big tech companies announced WFH policies, mine followed suit.

  64. RandomWords*

    I work for a construction company with offices and construction sites across the country and internationally. We’ve received two communications: one reminding us to wash our hands and sneeze/cough into a tissue, and one last week discouraging (but not banning) international travel. So they’re doing very little.

    1. Retail not Retail*

      What are the recommendations for the workers? Is being outside safer? I hope it is since even the indoor days are in a leaky greenhouse.

      1. RandomWords*

        Just went back and checked in case I missed it, but it’s the boilerplate CDC guidance: wash your hands, don’t touch your face, cover your mouth with you sneeze/cough, seek medical care if you have symptoms. No mention of whether people who work outside are safer, or what they’re doing on worksites.

  65. Potato*

    My boss seems to be convinced it’s no big deal, so not responding at all, including continuing to have large gatherings. I’ve been avoiding my one coworker who likes to cough and then immediately touch me as much as possible and washing my hands a lot

  66. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    We have one case in the area. One. And the person’s father went to a function at a hotel over the weekend, so anyone in my company who was at the hotel at the same time is being instructed to work from home and self-quarantine for the next 14 days. Meanwhile, the “normal” flu has ripped through our offices like a tornado, and we still only get 4 sick days per year. I am immunocompromised and ended up in the hospital for 3 days. No more sick days for me this year.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Omg, that’s awful. I used to work for a company that only gave five sick days a year and 10 PTO days – like, what the hell are people supposed to do with this? All it takes is one bad cold, not even the flu, or a slip and fall during the winter, and you’re done for the year. These businesses should be ashamed of themselves.

  67. Temperance*

    National law-firm employee here.

    All non-essential travel has been banned. All travel to Seattle, Italy, Iran, and China has been banned; if you have personal travel planned, you are barred from the office for two weeks after your return.

    Employees who have been exposed (or exposed to a person who has potentially been exposed) are subject to a two-week home quarantine.

    1. LawLady*

      Also at a big law firm. Very similar approach. It’s tough for staff, but lawyers can work from home, so they’re really emphasizing that if you feel at all poorly, you should work from home.

  68. Mike C.*

    I work for the largest employers in Snohomish County and it took way too long before middle management begrudgingly allowed folks to work from home en mass. It was like pulling teeth.

    Shockingly it’s working out just fine, who would have known! Some are already talking about coming back but that’s an absolute pipe dream.

    1. fposte*

      My hope is that a legacy of this virus will be better work from home policies and a few more sick pay laws.

      1. pancakes*

        It isn’t just better policies that are needed, though—many places in the US don’t have the infrastructure. Approximately 40 million Americans don’t have access to broadband internet. There’s a good article about this on Cutylab titled “There Are Far More Americans Without Broadband Access than Previously Thought.”

        1. fposte*

          Right, and I’m associated with a project about that. But making WFH more normalized isn’t going to hurt those people, and it’s going to help a lot of others.

  69. Aneurin*

    Few-thousand-employee company here, main office (2,000-ish) in the UK. Response so far:

    – Lots of signs & email reminders about hand washing, and I’ve noticed big hand sanitiser bottles appearing around the place (all bathrooms already have the wall-mounted ones in addition to the sinks).
    – Recent big conference/event switched from onsite to online presentations.
    – All employees (where relevant, ie not warehouse positions) given laptops, with teams carrying out dry runs of all team members working from home (on a rolling basis, so the whole company isn’t at home at once).
    – I haven’t heard of any quarantine cases yet but in such an event you’d be expected to work from home (if well), with paid sick leave (dr’s note required after 1 week off) kicking in if you wind up ill.

  70. Ellie*

    I work for a hospital in a state that hasn’t had any confirmed cases yet – we are getting periodic updates but more in the way of preparing for the influx of paranoid people to our ER’s and making sure we can still stock our respirators we need to do autopsies because people are buying them left and right…generally as far as employee health goes they are treating it exactly like the flu. Work with your manager to work from home if you show symptoms, self quarantine for 14 days if you have recently returned from one of the WHO travel level 1 or 2 restricted countries, and continue standard hygiene practices (hand washing, cough or sneeze into your elbow/shoulder, don’t lick strangers, etc).

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      don’t lick strangers

      Can you tell my five-year-old niece this? I swear, this child will put anything in her mouth – I’m terrified for her.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Get her a labrador or a corgi. The dog will lick/eat anything before she does, and a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s, so clearly even if she takes it from the dog it’ll be sanitized!

        (this is a joke)

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Lol! She actually wants a dog, but I just can’t see that happening – she probably would try to eat after it for shock value. She thinks it’s hilarious when we’re all screeching after she puts some dirty foreign object in her mouth.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            That’s why I suggested those two- they’ll eat /anything/, especially the corgi. Sir Fusspot once ate an emetic and begged for seconds (after eating an entire bar of pure dark chocolate).

  71. Justin*

    I just got back to the office from paternity, and…. things are mostly the same here. A lot of signs and everyone is using napkins to open doors. We had plenty of cleaning supplies in the first place. They’re telling anyone who seems sick (though these folks don’t have The symptoms) to stay home, and we’re lucky as we do have sick leave etc.

    But we can’t yet work from home officially until there’s an official clarion call, which may occur in future weeks. We use a gov’t database for our work (I work for a university but located inside a gov’t so we can’t really use it from home without special permission. Currently on hold with the state to get my permission (along with much of the office) in case we have to work from home.

  72. Miraculous Ladybug*

    Office worker for a local chain of cafes in New York: So far, on the office level, we’ve gotten the same guidance as from the CDC from what our founder is calling the “Ad-Hoc Coronavirus Task Force,” which is to wash our hands, sanitize often, stay home if sick, etc. Now that we’re under a state of emergency more might happen but right now it feels like the office is in a sort of waiting / holding pattern. Bated breath, etc.

    On the STORE level, though, is where things are really starting to change: we’ve suspended a bring-your-own cup program, have stepped up sanitization of all stores, and we’re really pushing our paid sick leave to our hourly workers to make sure they know it’s available to them and to use it if they need it.

    So far I’m pretty impressed with the response, and I feel like the store level is where it really matters for us. Probably more to come since it doesn’t look like this is slowing down any time soon.

  73. Crazy Chicken Lady*

    My employer is making sure that all employees can work remotely if needed. All- including admin staff. I’m glad that they are trying.

    I have two kids in college. The he oldest is set to graduate next month. His university may be moving to online classes after spring break. He’s supposed to be traveling to Princeton later this week for an admitted grad school student event. Not sure yet if it’s on, but he’ll spend some time in DC and New York this week anyway, even if he never makes it to New Jersey. Other kid is in Montana, which isn’t exactly a hotbed of Coronavirus activity.

    1. Sunflower Sea Star*

      I have two kids (+ one of them is engaged, so an almost SIL as well!) graduating this year, and I honestly can’t decide if I hope graduations happen or not. I don’t love sitting through the long, long ceremonies but they all want to walk, so…. I guess we will see how that plays out.

  74. Alton*

    I work in higher education in a state that hasn’t been very affected yet, and so far we’ve mostly had notices sent out about self-quarantining if you travel to high-risk regions. Some student programming has been affected. I’m starting to be more cautious about spending time in high-traffic parts of campus, such as dining locations. I’m hoping that if things do get worse in my state, HR will be good about letting people work from home. My position doesn’t normally allow for it, and it would be hard for me to be productive without access to my office, but I’m prepared to ask about temporarily modifying my schedule if things do get bad.

  75. Smithy*

    I work for a large international humanitarian organization it’s been striking compared to a friend who has a job with a large company in the entertainment field.

    My organization already has a team focused on staff safety as well as a health team. So very early on, those teams were working together in updating staff or organizational choices, letting staff know where to go with questions,and sharing regular updates. By this point, the overall approach has been so methodical and thoughtful, it’s made everything feel very “keep calm and carry on”. Even with all non-essential travel canceled, more working from home, etc. – every choice has been announced so calmly, it’s made a difference.

    My friend’s company’s senior leadership has really let the worries of a massive impact to tourism make people very concerned about their own employment futures let alone illness. I’m not saying her fears of a large down-turn in tourism having an impact on her industry are unfounded – but it’s hard to see someone terrified of losing their job. It’s brought this larger level of anxiety to her overall life that is making processing all news difficult.

  76. Princess of Pure Reason*

    I work for a healthcare organization that includes two big academic medical centers, both on the forefront of all this. We get daily emails with updates to things like travel restrictions, meetings and conferences (no conference travel or participation allowed either attending or hosting – with a note that the organization will incur the cost of your plans having to be changed/cancelled, currently no meetings with over x number of internal attendees are allowed), where to find information and resources for both employees and the general public, what to do if you’re hourly rather than salaried re: PTO, etc. My job can be accomplished remotely (as can my entire department) and we already work remotely two days a week, as do many who don’t have patient facing roles or other jobs that can’t be done remotely. The infrastructure and culture around remote work are already in place and I am so glad for it. That plus clear daily information and updates from the hospitals and I feel exceptionally fortunate.

    1. Sherm*

      Similar place here. Not quite at the forefront, but everyone is very concerned. All business travel to and from is suspended. We are encouraged to conduct all meetings via Skype etc. I expect soon that anyone who can work from home will be working from home.

  77. BlueWolf*

    We’ve received various notices and updates as the situation has progressed. They have increased sanitizing of the office. Complete ban on travel to CDC Level 3 countries. Also, only essential travel to Level 1 or 2 countries. They have also requested that we notify the firm of any planned international travel (personal or business) to determine any actions that may need to be taken. They have also asked people to bring laptops home each night if they have one in case of any sudden need to telework and are also working on plans for mass telework if needed (since not all staff currently have telework capabilities). They have also implemented limitations on visitors who may be at risk (based on travel to affected countries, contact with people who have traveled to affected countries, or a person diagnosed with the virus).

  78. Matilda Jefferies*

    I’m in Toronto. Nothing at my job, except for a note from the CEO with the usual advice about handwashing and so on. No direction about working at home, which seems odd given that we’re moving to a new open plan/ flexible seating office in the next year or so – I would have thought the org would at least bring it up as a possibility in a “discuss it with your manager” way.

    I’m also curious about if – or how – this will impact the plans for the new office. It seems to be that soft surfaces like cubicles would be at least a little bit helpful in preventing the spread of germs; and the idea of “every desk is everybody’s” seems a little unhealthy at this point as well. We shall see.

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      Anecdotally, I have a friend who works for a software company with offices all over the world. Her job is threat assessment and business continuity planning, so she’s up to her eyeballs making sure they have employees and backup plans in all their various countries.

    2. Bree*

      Also in Toronto, working in health care (but not in direct service provision).

      We’ve got a new hand sanitizer stand in the lobby, stations throughout office. Extra facilities cleaning of doorknobs, etc. Reminders that staff are always expected to take a sick day/work from home when ill (not just COV-19). We’ve got a pretty good remote office setup and sick leave, so this makes sense. Staff asked to voluntarily disclose any travel plans to HR – business travel out-of-country is cancelled.

      1. Bree*

        Also, the water in our office bathroom sinks has always been cool and suddenly it’s nice and warm. Probably not a coincidence, though I don’t think it’s actually more effective at germ removal. Not complaining!

  79. Retail not Retail*

    I have to chip away at anonymity because my “offices” are… a zoo and a baseball/soccer field.

    Both places are city owned so got the “disinfect EVERYTHING” before our city got a case but after the first state case.

    We sprayed down wooden fences. Like… okay? And at the game saturday they said disinfect any ball that goes into the stands but there was nothing where I was stationed and most balls the fans tossed back themselves!

    The local cases were announced yesterday when I was off – tomorrow will be interesting.

    Of course most maddening about zoo job is 90% of the staff works better without the public so if we’re shut down because of crowds, would we still go to work?

    Also woo! Spring break! Jobs at tourist locations!

  80. Admin of Sys*

    Hand sanitizer has shown up next to all the doors, but other than that, nothing of our day to day work process has changed.
    That said, I’m in IT, and what we’re working on has shifted. We’re in massive planning mode for having most of the staff working remotely. The existing vpn manages when we’ve got snow outages, but that’s only like 30% of folks dialing in usually. We expect that it will get entirely overwhelmed when the entire workforce goes home and tries to remote into work. As such, we’re testing 3 or 4 potential solutions and also trying to figure out what the folks who generally don’t work from home will need to do. (endpoints/firewalls/etc)
    Mind you, all of this is somewhat unrealistic, as our local ISPs are going to fall over and die if the entire town tries to use the same cable internet service to connect all at once. And that’s not even considering the at-home kids trying to stream netflix at the same time as the parents try to remote into work.

    1. Admin of Sys*

      Forgot to say – I work in IT at a private university. The university has setup travel restrictions for CDC2 or higher, requires self quarantine for anyone who does visit those areas, they asked spring break students to reconsider international travel and anyone who travels to a state with an outbreak to monitor themselves for symptoms. But we’re off campus, so idk if there’s been changes to residence / dining / etc.
      I did just see Princeton basically said all classes post spring break will be remote. wow.

    2. Dragoning*

      Last year, we got hit by the polar vortex and every single employee in the area was WFH or taking the day off unless they physically had to be in the building for something (so…almost no one). Except no one could WFH because our VPN was bogged way, way down.

      1. Admin of Sys*

        Yeah, I really hope a lot of other internal IT departments are thinking through the complications of trying to send everyone home for 2+ weeks. But honestly, if we were a smaller university or company, idk that we’d be able to spin up the solutions we’re testing right now. I think a lot of folks are going to be very disappointed at their actual ‘work remote’ options when / if it comes to that.

  81. IT Kat*

    Federal government on-site contractor here.

    We see lots of emails going back and forth for the government employees.

    My contracting company (which is a huge one) has given nothing but the standard ‘let us know if you’ve traveled recently’ and ‘stay home if sick’. Still expected to come in as normal.

    My company hasn’t even given us hand sanitizer.

    1. IT Kat*

      Oh, and I forgot to mention, we’re in a desk-sharing situation too. Which means shared keyboards, mice, chairs, etc….

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Your company really needs to get you guys hand sanitizer and wipes if you’re sharing equipment. It’s negligent not to.

  82. Anon for this Thread*

    So far, we’ve gotten an email from HR about hand washing, touching things, etc. and “If you do not feel well, have a cold, cough or fever, we ask that you stay home and seek proper medical care.” For reference, we get 5 sick days per year, and vacation is paltry on top of that (up to 15 years you get 10 days, at 15 years you get 15 days). There are people in my office that are probably out of sick time by now due to the flu and other illnesses that went around earlier. There’s also a person in my office that is sick, a lot, with respiratory issues, and she hasn’t been asked to go home or given a laptop.

    Office work here, and probably 99% of my work could be done remotely on an ongoing basis. I drive 25 minutes to an office to log into a computer system over a thousand miles away, then use email and phone to communicate with colleagues and customers all over the world. That being said, I was given a laptop (without asking) and my manager making sure I’m getting set up with IT to be able to work from home should there be “bad weather” or “if you have to stay home for an extended period of time”. I’m concerned because not everyone has a laptop, and we only have a few cases in our state so far, and while I’m happy that I’ll still be able to work and get a paycheck, I’m concerned about my coworkers. I have a printer, high speed internet, extra computer stuff at home, so I’m good, but again, I worry about the others, like people who have rent and small children and all sorts of expenses could blow through all their paid time off and be out of luck for the rest of the year. HR hasn’t said anything about paying if people have to stay home due to a government mandate.

  83. That Girl from Quinn's House*

    Is there anyone here who works in a coverage related service sector job where calling out is just…not done? I’m thinking back to my lifeguarding days, where The Pool Must Be Open so we had people lifeguarding with the flu and fevers and all sorts of contagious maladies.

    I’m glad I’m not there any more because between that sick policy and the number of senior citizens who used our pool, we’d have a tragedy on our hands.

    But I’m curious how the service sector is handling this.

    1. MatKnifeNinja*

      Show up. Call in sick means no pay for part timers.

      If you tested +, those two weeks you are burning through all sick, PTO and vacation. Use STD if you got it.

      My boss thinks this is all over blown nonsense, and beside wash your hands and cover your mouths, that’s about it.

      Nursing friends are worried are getting static from the higher ups saying “the flu kills (x) amount more every year, and you weren’t screaming for PPE last year, buck it up.

      It has gotten so bad at the local hospital, they pulled the masks, gloves and hand sanitizers out of the exam rooms because people are stealing them. Now everything is rationed, and locked in the med room.

    2. Retail not Retail*

      If I still worked at grocery store, I’d be drugging myself through any cold or allergy flare-up. We had no sick time. 2 personal days and vacation that had to be taken in week chunks. (It could be less than 40 hours based on what you worked last year.)

      At my current job, we are definitely non-essential. But the crews that had to come in on thanksgiving, christmas eve, and christmas? The animals need care! They need food!

    3. Dragoning*

      The idea of being in a public pool right now is making me shudder, even though I know it’s chlorinated to all heck.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Chlorine kills most things within 15-45 minutes, depending on level of chlorination. But that doesn’t help you if the person swimming right near you is contagious, or if the pool is not chlorinated correctly.

    4. probable vector, victor*

      I work for a tiny business in tourism/travel sector. My boss has not said or done absolutely anything at all. Not even telling people we should start sanitizing the tablets every single customer handles. Full timers have minimal PTO (8 days per year). I’m in Austin, where most people are just angry that SXSW was cancelled and think coronavirus is overhyped – a lot of individuals and businesses in entertainment, tourism, and hospitality industry stay solvent by the grace of SXSW. That is not an exaggeration. In my old job we used to make so little money December-February that we’d all be hanging on by the skin of our teeth, saying well I’ll pay that bill after Southby… maybe I can wait to pay March rent until after the first weekend of southby… I’ll get that tooth pulled after southby.. Oh I’ll have a working car/phone/glasses after southby…

    5. Puffs*

      Bike messenger here. Yup, you have to show up to work to deliver all of the documents to everyone who is either there or not.

  84. Malory Archer*

    Healthtech here, with offices in SF and NYC. We’ve always had unlimited PTO and very flexible WFH policies, so we’re not very affected thus far. WFH is encouraged for those who are sick with anything and mandatory for anyone who’s been to a high risk area, and all travel has been suspended for 30 days (to varying degrees of enforcement…)

    Management has generally been pretty awesome and has repeatedly messaged that no matter whether we want to WFH or come into the office (both are still open) they support us. I’ve been coming in because I like the face time, but I expect it to be a ghost town for a while. They are getting rid of a lot of the communal snacks though :(

  85. Stormy Weather*

    I work for a large non-profit as a contractor. A lot of people are working from home right now. I haven’t yet been told I can and I’m not sure I’m allowed to as a contractor.

    There are containers of disinfecting wipes in all the conference rooms and in random places. On Friday, CIGNA came to our office (not sure why they chose us) and passed out little bottles of hand sanitizer with their logo on them.

    I live in NYC and go through a couple of the busiest subway stations. I’m more worried about exposure there. Or falling down the stairs because I don’t want to touch the railings.

    1. animaniactoo*

      Ditto on living in NYC. Did you see this morning that the Mayor is advising waiting for the next train? I still have a large red mark on my forehead from hitting the keyboard with it.

      1. Stormy Weather*

        Spoken like a man who gets a ride to City Hall every morning. Sheesh.

        I go through GCT and Fulton. Waiting for the next train is NOT going to help.

    2. Anon for No Reason*

      Also NYC and I go through Columbus Circle and Rockefeller Center. Luckily my train ride is short (and I’m about 25 minutes away from work by foot, so walking is certainly an option that I really should start taking) and I know the feel of the track well enough to avoid holding on to poles. I saw quite a few people wearing gloves this morning.

    3. Malory Archer*

      I saw the MTA wiping down the emergency call boxes in one of the stations the other night. At least they’re *trying* to help?

  86. aelle*

    Global engineering services firm in Germany. They’re taking it very seriously. We get updates and instructions from our CEO every few days. Early on, our engineers coming back from assignments in China were quarantined with full pay. Now the instructions are: all non essential in-person meetings and travel must be cancelled (phone conferences strongly preferred), no trade fairs or cons for work purposes, remote work is encouraged, no handshakes (or hugs or air kisses, since we have a culturally diverse staff, and people complied on the spot), and we are strongly encouraged to be conservative in getting a sick note if we feel unwell. We are instructed to air offices regularly, got the drill on proper hand washing, and the cleaning staff apparently also has special instructions. Also candidates and other non-employees coming to our offices must self disclose in writing that they did not visit an affected region in the last 14 days.

    Our main client (with a separate industrial site) has put in place very conservative self disclosure instructions as well, with anyone with a temperature or a couch being denied entry. Since it’s cold and fully season, it means a ton of remote work / sick leave anyway. We haven’t seen any major impact on delivery yet, but we’re planning for it

  87. I was never given a name*

    Today is my first day on a new job (accepted offer a few weeks ago). Got email last week that first-day onboarding would be remote via video call. I’m still going into the office this afternoon to meet up with my manager, but that was optional. The entire company is remote-optional for the next two weeks.
    Most memorable first day I’ve ever had, to be sure!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      While it’s not at all the same thing, a few years ago I started a job on the day the internet went down at the office and, because of construction, didn’t work for a few days and we all got sent home. It sucked, but it certainly made the transition slightly easier because I could deal with a lot of the first-day nerves at home.

      I’m just glad they didn’t call you and ask you to postpone your start date!

      1. Retail not Retail*

        My first day had some high straightline winds after about a week of rain. So I was getting enrolled to clock in/out and we heard a pop! and a huge crash. Transformer blew so parts of the grounds were without power, all the radios only worked on one channel (so we heard everyone’s chatter), and oh yeah. HUGE tree went down right next to a building. Massive hole where the roots were.

        This does have me wondering if there’s a point to job hunting right now.

  88. Katrinka*

    I work in a school (in the office). We have about 1,000 students and staff in the building. And hundreds more people come through in any given week. We are encouraging our students to wash their hands frequently, I’ve stocked up on larger bottles of hand sanitizer than usual (67 oz.) and Clorox wipes – every office here will have them both. Our head custodian is giving each classroom a spray bottle of a disinfecting spray that will kill flu and Covid-9 germs so that they can spray desks and communal areas frequently. At this point, that’s all we can do. While there is one confirmed case in our county, it’s an older woman and she’s in the hospital. But we’re basically holding our collective breath. We know there will be more and at some point we’ll probably shut down. We are in a low income area. These parents/guardians can’t afford to take time off the job if they or their student are sick. We already know this because the flu hits us hard every year.

    1. Katrinka*

      Oh, and for the time being all already-scheduled field trips are continuing, but no new ones can be planned. Some of the high schools had international trips planned, they have already cancelled those.

  89. Fiddlesticks*

    My boss is being an idiot. He has literally said that EVERYONE, as in everyone in the country, should just go on and get it at at once, then the economy can get back to normal. We are all overreacting, etc., and he won’t reschedule in-person meetings to teleconferences or postpone large workshops that we’re putting on. I am the sole caretaker for three elderly relatives, one of whom is partly disabled, and one of whom has MS and cancer, and I do NOT appreciate this cavalier attitude. They don’t need me to get coronavirus and be quarantined and unable to assist them, and they certainly don’t need coronavirus themselves.

    I live and work just outside Seattle. I can’t believe my boss is being so stupid about this.

      1. Fiddlesticks*

        Thank you. Yes – this is partly how this disease will continue to spread, because some people won’t take any reasonable precautions even though we live in the national hotspot right now! It’s just infuriating. There have been some rumblings that the governor may take more stringent actions about restricting large crowds and regional movements, but unless he imposes telework requirements, it won’t help workers with situations like ours.

    1. Salty Caramel*

      Great galloping gophers, what an idiot. I’m sorry you’ve got to deal with that.

    2. Ferret*

      I mean even if everyone or nearly everyone is eventually infected delaying and reducing the peak has a substantial benefit in terms of reducing the overall impact, and particularly the burden on medical services – which therefore increases the survival rates

    3. emmelemm*

      Wow. I’m sorry, that is just idiocy. Even being at super low risk myself, just seeing the news reports about how many of the residents of that one nursing home have died makes it super clear that if it gets into a place where it can be spread among the elderly, it WILL be a problem.

      Fun side note: my office used to be *literally* on the same block as that nursing home. Imagine me seeing it on the news! (I now work about a mile away.)

    4. Diahann Carroll*

      Yes, because what’s a few million lives when we need to be focused on the stock market? The fuck?!

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        I bet he’s thinking almost entirely about *his* investments, too. It feels like every day I see people plumb new depths of “screw you, I’ve got mine.”

  90. Not Today Satan*

    Mine is not at all, unless you count posters telling you to wash your hands. Employers are not ready for this thing. We need to start preparing for scaled back operations, a big increase in telecommuting, and extra paid sick time now. But it’s not happening.

  91. Roxy_84*

    Standard company-wide informational emails, but as of last week they also:

    – banned any business travel to CDC warning level 3 countries
    – banned non-essential business travel anywhere
    – started requiring SVP approval for essential business travel to non-warning level 3 countries
    – recommended against personal travel to warning level 3 countries, offering to reimburse all cancellation costs
    – will require 2 weeks of paid self quarantine time for anyone returning from a warning level 3 country

  92. Dezzi*

    LMAO we are totally screwed (sorry if I shouldn’t be using that word here, but honestly anything less just doesn’t do the situation justice). We just released a policy, of sorts….which doesn’t actually address what to do if we have a staffing shortage. Which we will. And we’ve got legally mandated staffing ratios. So that’s going to be fun. I don’t know if they have a plan but they don’t want to tell all our frontline workers what it is (because it’s probably going to require them to do things like stay at work for 24+ hours at a time, which sucks even if you are getting paid for sleep time), or if they legitimately don’t have one.
    We provide services to a lot of really vulnerable folks, and we didn’t start trying to stock up on PPE until last week.
    Most of the stuff that gets done in offices can be done remotely. The vast majority of what we do, with over 5oo staff? Cannot.
    We’re screwed.

    1. Dezzi*

      That said, things we have done: stopped any unnecessary trips, cancelled big activities, instituted twice-daily disinfection of high-touch surfaces in our office building, asked all staff to take their temperature daily before reporting to work, and suggested avoiding having staff work at more than one site (without taking into account that we have a pool of PRN staff whose entire role is filling it at any site where we need them).

  93. Not my usual user name*

    All US offices and almost all ex-US offices of my company have gone to work from home for the foreseeable future. I am US based and there are several confirmed and pending confirmed cases in employees based in my office and a few other offices. It’s frustrating that we are hearing updates from local news channels before we here them from company officials. We have been given a reasonable amount of information about the virus, what signs to look for, what to do if you think you are infected, etc. The overall message is don’t panic and carry on from home.

    Out of an abundance of caution I stocked up on food and household supplies this weekend, shopping at a very early hour to avoid crowds and having my husband pick things off the shelf so I didn’t have to touch anything. I have no symptoms at all and feel fine, but suspect that several of the cases worked in the same building that I do, so I’m preparing just in case.

    1. Not my usual user name*

      Oh, all travel is suspended, all buildings in the US are being deep cleaned and sanitized, and the onsite daycare is closed.

      1. Majnoona*

        Oh, in addition to banning all international travel, they are also (and clearly reluctantly!), agreeing for domestic travel to pay for “for any reason” travel insurance, fully reimbursable flights, and will reimburse for hotels or fees we can’t get back for now. Also a constantly updated link to what they know is going on in the area (which isn’t much)

  94. The Original K.*

    They’re testing remote work this week 1/3 of the company on Wednesday, 1/3 on Thursday, and 1/3 on Friday. There’s a LOT of discussion around it since so many of us use public transportation.

  95. Lyudie*

    A major industry conference was just cancelled and at least some of it is going to be done virtually instead. We’ve cancelled all non-essential/non-customer travel. We’re healthcare-adjacent so maybe more conservative in some respects here, we have a lot of employees with clinical backgrounds. We’ve had a few “we’re monitoring the situation closely” emails and I wouldn’t be too surprised to hear we are recommended to work from home in the near future. Interestingly, there is also a corporate movement to flex seating/no permanent cubes which seems like not a great idea right now.

  96. animaniactoo*

    Company’s response: Self-quarantine WFH for 2 weeks following any overseas travel has been in place since the beginning of February.

    Last week they added more dispensers and bottles of Purell everywhere, and added 3 days of PTO for everyone, 2 of which may ONLY be taken as sick days and are not able to use for vacation. Our normal PTO allotment is: 5 days in Year 1, 8 in Year 2, 10 in Year 3, 13 in Year 4, and then 15 days for Year 5 and beyond.

    However, our Mayor has just told us – in an epic out-of-touch-with-reality moment – to avoid overcrowded trains and buses. Go ahead and wait for the next one if the one that arrives is packed. “Common sense”. Yes. I will arrive at work somewhere around mid-day if I follow this advice…

    1. animaniactoo*

      Also – stated that more thorough cleaning is being done in the offices, but truthfully I have not seen much sign of that.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Update: IT is currently going around turning on VPN permissions for everyone to be able to work from home if need be. This is major, as there has been a long-standing policy of NOT allowing VPN connections for any but the most urgent matters, and then only on a case-by-case basis.

    2. Nonke John*

      animaniactoo, I’ll match my contempt for Mayor Bill against anyone’s, believe me. But in this case, my understanding was that he was specifically addressing people who are sick but have no choice but to use public transportation. My home station is Grand Central, and my office is on 14th, so I’ve never encountered this phenomenon known as a less-full subway car, but if it works for your route, the bus often does make it easier to avoid close contact with multiple people.

      There’s dark comedy in being harangued at to bike to work when I’ll by someone famous for using an SUV to get to the gym when he’s blooming with health, though, for sure. Maybe he could start ferrying citizens with the sniffles to work?

  97. NYWeasel*

    Our company is following a lot of similar policies as noted above—discouraging travel, encouraging working remotely, etc. But, I sort of have to question their approach when a colleague came in the office after flying through an affected area. They sent him home immediately for self-quarantine but no one came by to disinfect his work station. His coworkers were left to spray Lysol and hope for the best!

  98. Meredith*

    My company is very generous in that we close on snow days for the local school district. If you have children and your local school district is closed, or it’s too treacherous to get to work, you are also welcome to work from home. Ditto for if you are sick, or you have a plumber coming over, or you have a doctor’s appointment in the middle of the day.

    Obviously, some employees are better equipped to do this than others, and some prefer it more than others. But we are creating a plan to work to 100% remote work if the local schools close down to control an outbreak (we’ve already had local schools close for cleaning because of possible exposure, but nothing long-term yet). They are moving everything they can to the cloud and making sure people have the ability to remotely access our office network/desktops, as well as making sure everyone has a home office set up that works for them.

    As someone who is immunocompromised and lives within a mile of someone who was just diagnosed, depending on how this week goes, it might be my last week in the office full-time, regardless of what everyone else does. I got my home office ready yesterday, including extra monitors!

  99. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

    My company isn’t doing diddly. We have hundreds customers in and out of here every day, the boss is a traveling guy who travels overseas on the regular, yet we have no plan if anyone gets sick and……we have no sick leave and no health insurance. Which just thrills me, as someone who is immunocompromised.

    1. Jaid*

      Oh wow, I haven’t heard from you in a huge minute. I hope your job is better than that last one… ;-)

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

        IKR? Things have been crazazy….this job is better but I really need benefits and PTO. It’s not full time work (~30 hrs per week), but for this point in time it works for me. I make a decent hourly wage and have access to take home heavy equipment (things like trackhoes, stump grinders, pressure washer, lawn vacuums, etc.) so the timing is….fortuitous…..considering I’m starting to remodel my home. This place has its issues, but the last place had a whole damn subscription so I’m ultimately better off.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

        I’ll deal. And I have a super duper employment attorney already so I’ve got that going for me. LOL….

  100. Kristi*

    I work in engineering for a large manufacturing company. My office is mostly engineers and related professionals, plus a laboratory. All international travel is banned. Domestic travel is allowed only if absolutely necessary and approved by executive leadership. No meetings of over 25 people allowed. No conference attendance allowed. And there are hand-washing signs everywhere. We have a generous sick leave policy (basically, if you’re sick, stay home and you still get paid.) So anyone who comes to work sick already gets peer pressured into going home.

  101. Chris*

    Nothing from my employer so far. I intend to raise the subject in a staff meeting tomorrow.

  102. Staja*

    WFH is encouraged in our China office (which just reopened today after being closed since then end of Jan), Italy, Korea, Japan, and the Bay-area. All international travel has been postponed. Most large company gatherings have been postponed. Individual departments have tested WFH viability (my team tested last week). I work in Finance for a software company.

    Waiting to hear any company word regarding employees in our building who have been exposed. I’m in NH, and our local patient zero didn’t listen when asked to self-isolate.

    1. Holy Moley*

      Oh wow. That is not okay. I do not understand people who don’t listen to the self-isolation. Its like they just dont care about anyone else

  103. Josephine Beth NotAmy*

    Anyone else work in home visiting roles? I work for a non-profit that provides in-home support services to families of young children, teaching parenting skills, etc. I personally work with about 20 families and supervise a group of staff who work statewide. We do a lot of our staff meetings and one on ones remotely, but obviously the day to day stuff is in person. The guidance I’ve seen for schools and childcare doesn’t really apply, and despite the formation of a Coronavirus Committee (don’t even get me started…) there’s been zero info from leadership besides “wash your hands”. My group is pretty stressed about it and I really hope we get some info today.

    1. Anon for this one*

      I do. We are recommending calling before in home visits to make sure visit is still on, that no one in family is ill. (We do that with flu outbreaks as well). We have staff working from home for their admin time. We will do staff meetings and supervision remotely. If a home visitor is sick and can’t see families for several weeks, we try to juggle it so a supervisor or someone else can visit them. We will suspend intakes if it is confirmed in our county.
      I agree that the guidance isn’t really a good fit. It’s hard to know what to do.

  104. Mae B.*

    My company has put out a policy where all personal travel to any of the countries on the CDC advisory list must be disclosed to the company (there is zero work travel done at our jobs so that isn’t relevant). If anyone travels to a place on the CDC list or lives with anyone who traveled to a place on the CDC list, they are not allowed to come in to the office for 2 weeks. Due to privacy and security rules and laws our work is impossible to do from home, so there is no teleworking or checking in if we aren’t in the office. We also never see or meet with clients in person in our office, so there is no need for us to deal with them bringing it in. The 2 weeks is not paid unless we want to use our own vacation days. We will get as many 100% paid sick days if we actually do get coronavirus. If anyone doesn’t tell HR about the travel to the CDC places, or anyone doesn’t stay home for the 2 weeks, the penalty is firing. We live in a state where there have not been any cases so far and I’m keeping my fingers crossed it stays that way.

  105. What’s with Today, today?*

    I work for a small family media company and it is business as usual. We’re in Texas, and our city and hospital system officials are telling us we should be far more worried about the common flu(during on air interviews on our station). My media company boss is also a state rep., he participates in a few weekly calls with statewide updates, but I’m not privy to that info. South by Southwest was canceled, which shocked the hell out of me. I’m going to the Houston Livestock Show next week for a concert, hoping that doesn’t get canceled as well.

  106. Ali G*

    We’ve always had pretty liberal flex time and WFH policies, but we’ve reinforced that you should stay home if you aren’t feeling well. We have a good leave program and people feel able to take off when needed.
    The biggest thing going on now is we are convening a conference in late April, and we are already within the cancellation period, so we are biding our time for the next few weeks to see how it goes. As the conference organizer, I really don’t want to cancel, but obviously once you fall below a critical mass, it’s not worth holding anyway.

  107. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I work remotely from a different state from my company’s home office. My company sent out an email about precautions and staying home. We all have the capability of working from home, so they’ve recommended that people take their laptops home every night just in case. Knowing the people in my office, there is a lot of frantic discussion and, probably, hand-washing police. One person in our office is immunocompromised, very dramatic and HATES working from home (they refuse to do so), so it’s been a little rough for some of my co-workers.

    Our most senior people are in travel-heavy roles and so far no changes have been made or suggested. One co-worker flew to Seattle for a presentation and I know he was unhappy about it, but he absolutely could have declined to go so that’s on him (he tends to be a little overly concerned with what the clients will think when… the clients will think he’s trying to stay safe and will probably appreciate the video conference!). We– the entire executive team– are scheduled to attend an industry conference in LA in less than three weeks, and so far it’s still on, though I expect it will be cancelled. I’m still planning to go and moving ahead as if it’s happening. (I got upgraded and I have a feeling it was because the flight will be empty.)

    But my biggest concern is that I have an interview tomorrow with an organization that hosts a massive conference, and presenters/vendors are dropping out of the conference right and left. I am, selfishly, concerned that my interviewers will be pretty distracted by everything. Trying not to let that get to me too much in terms of my own nerves but also trying to be sensitive to these unusual circumstances.

  108. Sarah-tonin*

    i’m a public librarian in illinois and we’re mostly amping up our sanitation procedures – like having extra wipes and sand sanitizer around, and wiping down the (public and staff) computer keyboards each night (although a lot of us wipe down the staff keyboards each shift anyway). I’d hope we’d close if it got bad enough – I am not risking my health, even if our closing is an inconvenience for our patrons. but I don’t see us closing, although they sent out information on how to protect ourselves, and that they’re going to have more sanitation supplies around.