RG's Team Memo:

As you’re no doubt aware, the coronavirus and its associated disease, COVID-19, is a dangerous and rapidly spreading epidemic in the US.

As a company we’ve worked with our customers to put in place measures to reduce exposure of our employees, and we continue to monitor the situation for additional actions we can take.

We thought it worth giving you a summary of the information we have regarding the virus, as there are specific things we can each do to help mitigate the situation.

The US now has the highest number of confirmed cases in the world, with over 85,000 confirmed cases and over 1,300 (thirteen hundred) deaths.

  • The current mortality rate is already twice that of the flu and three times the rate of fatalities from car accidents or guns.
  • The virus is highly contagious, partly due to many infected people not showing any symptoms – being asymptomatic – while being infected with the virus and being able to transmit it.
  • This is distinctly different to the standard flu or common cold, which are most transmissible while people are symptomatic – fever, coughing, sneezing, and so on.
  • The virus has an unusual incubation. Many people initially show few mild or low-grade symptoms, and even after they recover are likely to still be able to transmit the disease for an unknown period, but possibly to 2 weeks.
    • Initial symptoms – within 24-48 hours of infection – are a mild to severe fever and other flu-like symptoms, including a dry cough. Sneezing is not a symptom.
      • The person may also lose their sense of taste and/or smell
      • Once this subsides, the person will feel normal, although may retain a persistent dry cough
      • However, they will likely be highly contagious as the virus is consolidating and multiplying in the throat and sinuses, where it can then infect the lungs or gut.
      • Other symptoms can include diarrhea or other gut ailments
      • Between 5-14 days after initial infection, the person can suffer a critical reaction to the virus requiring further treatment or hospitalization.
      • The most dangerous is an immune reaction which rapidly causes the lungs to fill with fluid, often in a matter of hours, requiring ventilation and intensive medical care.
    • It’s estimated that around 1 in 10 people infected will become critically ill and require medical attention.
    • Contrary to some reports, while children seem remarkably resilient the outbreak in the US up to 40% of hospitalized cases have been people in their 20’s through 40’s, which is much higher than elsewhere.
    • It is also extremely dangerous to the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions including:
      • A history of pulmonary conditions, like bronchitis or asthma
      • Obesity
      • Diabetes
      • Heart disease
      • Anything which compromises the immune system.
    • The virus is hardy and can remain viable for days on many surfaces, including cardboard, stainless steel, and plastic. It can also linger in the air for up to 2 hours after someone coughs or potentially even exhales.
    • The Princess cruise ship still had viral contamination in passenger staterooms 17 days after it had been evacuated.
    • The high rate of asymptomatic period and long period where people can continue to transfer the disease, as well as it’s hardiness, is what makes this virus so dangerous.
    • Someone infected yesterday and who experiences no or mild symptoms could be walking around for 2 weeks before rapidly becoming ill. This is why medical authorities stress we are probably still in the early stages of the epidemic. During this time, everything they touch or interact with could host the virus for 2 weeks or more.

There are things you can do:

  • Until enough testing has been done to determine the number of infections in your community, it’s best to be safe and take precautions.
    • Don’t panic. While dangerous, approaching this situation with appropriate caution and thought will minimize the risk to you and your family and friends.
    • Do what you can to minimize the demands on the health system. Follow the guidance for reducing your chance of exposure, understand the symptoms for the coronavirus and COVID-19, and prepare to treat people in your household.
      • However, if you have the opportunity to be tested, get tested. Knowing how far the virus has spread is essential to understanding how to respond to it.
    • Maintain your physical distance from people as much as possible, and specifically from vulnerable people.
      • While children seem highly resistant to symptoms, they may still be able to carry and transmit the virus to others, potentially reaching vulnerable people.
    • When visiting stores or other places, take additional care with hand-washing, touching your face, and use disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer. Consider you or others may transfer the virus into your vehicle.
      • Simple soap and water is the most effective way to destroy the virus on your hands or face – more effective than alcohol-based hand sanitizers
    • Regularly disinfect surfaces using a CDC recommended cleaner, especially in shared or high-traffic areas.
    • Don’t forget to clean door handles, phones, laptops, TV remotes and other frequently handled items you otherwise might ignore.
    • Know the difference in symptoms between COVID-19, influenza, a cold, or allergies. There are some useful guidelines on the CDC website to help you stay informed.
    • Daily monitor your body temperature and those of your household (and make sure you disinfect the thermometer between people).
      • Your temperature will vary daily, which is natural, and general guidance is to note if it goes above 101F
    • If you have someone in your household who is sick or displaying symptoms, then
      • In general, treat them as if they have the flu, with OTC medications, hot drinks, soup and keep them warm
      • Isolate them as much as possible, such as using texting or messaging to communicate
      • Closely monitor them for any difficulties breathing
    • Make sure you still communicate with friends and family, and reach out to people who may be feeling isolated. The “virtual happy hour” and other activities really do help.
    • I’ve personally used it as a good reason to chat more often with my friends and family in Australia, Canada, the UK and California.
    • Find activities which can engage the people you live with and distract from being trapped into the news cycle and social media.
      • Some of my friends are playing board games with their children rather than letting them retreat onto an iPad or phone.
      • Others are brushing up on their guitar skills, learning a language, or writing
      • And Emily and I have been baking bread, making pickles, and – in her case – learning how to move her business online.
    • Share your experiences, suggestions, and ideas with your colleagues, and also if you have any questions or concerns then please reach out to Tony, Brad or Liam.