Seattle as a Model of Public Health and Corporate Wellness: Safeguarding Areas from COVID-19

By
Concetta Cippoletti
,
Founder and President
American Bio Services
,
of

The City of Seattle has an opportunity to be a model of public health and corporate wellness. This opportunity depends on the city’s commitment to preventing the spread of COVID-19. Procedures that safeguard businesses from an outbreak of COVID-19 are, therefore, essential to making Seattle a leader in the recovery of jobs, investments, growth, and economic opportunity. What Seattle does can have national and global implications for the good of everyone.

 

To start, any such procedures should include high-level preventative sanitizing regimens. Where total prevention is not possible, businesses must be transparent about containment and mitigation of an outbreak. Transparency is key to establishing and maintaining public confidence in the safety of a specific business or an entire business district. Transparency is also the basis for the promotion of corporate wellness and, by extension, public trust.

 

Among Seattle’s most notable companies, whose ranks include Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks, and Costco, safety is a subset of wellness. Safety is integral to not only what these companies do, but also what these companies must do to protect their workers. No doubt these companies follow strict CDC and FDA guidelines, in addition to state and even community mandates to best mitigate exposure and build consumer confidence. But even the strictest standards are no guarantee of absolute safety. 

 

What is critical, as a matter of public health and corporate wellness, is the response time following an outbreak of COVID-19, which is also vital to preserving a brand’s hard-earned value among consumers and workers. Responsiveness is an important first step in minimizing the spread of an outbreak. Should a COVID-19 outbreak occur, the site should be secured and quarantined immediately.

 

This response not only arrests further potential spread, but also demonstrates a company’s competent, coherent, and proactive resolve to a skeptical, if not fearful, public. This response defines what it means to support corporate wellness with actions rather than words alone.

 

Helpful, too, is a company’s decision to perform a risk assessment to determine the presence of active microorganisms, beyond allowing a business to perform a CDC-approved sanitization cleaning procedure to eliminate active, harmful organisms. Post-testing from an industrial hygienist can be an accurate way to detect the presence of active microorganisms. After high-level disinfection and sanitization are performed, ongoing testing can ensure the continued safety of a site. 

 

Even though it may be determined that there is a low risk of exposure, it is a responsible best practice—and a necessary part of any corporate wellness campaign—to take a proactive approach. Adhering to strict CDC protocols and reassuring the public in those efforts is an important first step to creating and maintaining community confidence. 

 

Any Seattle-based business would undergo substantial public scrutiny if it did not publicize efforts to not only prevent but also to respond to any potential COVID-19 exposure. The public needs to know how containment would happen and when the sterilization process would begin. The processes should be decisive, the timeline direct, the outcome definitive. Without these procedures, perceptions about safety become more subjective while the public becomes more suspicious. Without these procedures, corporate wellness reduces to yet another vacuous catchphrase.

 

There has been a lot of change in the information on what steps ensure the highest level of safety and what time frame is appropriate to ensure public safety. There is a moving target with recommendations on how long a business is required to stay closed after exposure to COVID-19. Companies have several factors to consider before resuming business as usual. Often it is more about the potential liability rather than the safety and containment of a site.

 

The ripple effect of one COVID exposure reaches the furthest shores. The impact of just one COVID exposure not only closes a business, even for a short time but also impacts the psyche and confidence of the surrounding community. The presence of some of America’s largest companies in the Seattle area magnifies this risk. 

As a major transportation hub for the West Coast and around the globe, an infectious disease like COVID-19 could easily cripple and compromise the Seattle/Tacoma port of entry. Everything and everyone from Boeing’s newest airplane to Starbucks’ newest store would suffer without an effective mitigation plan for a COVID exposure. 

When businesses and municipalities leverage the proper licensed and trained, professional, biohazard mitigation and cleanup companies, their technical acumen can make a shutdown and quarantine of a facility from a COVID-19 exposure move from weeks to a matter of hours.

 

To meet with a minimal shutdown, the successful plan must include the identification, vetting, and perhaps, contractually-retained mitigation and remediation cleanup companies. With proper planning at the corporate and county or state levels coupled with deliberate execution, local society, as a whole, assists in the safety, health, and freedom for the country and the world.

No one wants to put Seattle’s business community at risk by not remediating properly. No one wants to undermine Seattle’s importance as a model of corporate wellness either. Clarity is invaluable to what happens after a site has been disinfected and cleared because a business can reopen within a few days unless the city’s ordinances deem otherwise. The big variable may not be what the City of Seattle says a business can do, but how residents in Seattle react to what a business wants to do. Any reaction will affect the success of that business’s statements and actions regarding corporate wellness.

 

By advancing and following the right protocols, businesses can influence Seattle’s efforts to contain COVID-19. These protocols are a chance for everyone to put Seattle at the forefront of public health and corporate wellness. These protocols are essential to safety in general.