Stay Home, Stay Safe
Stay Home, Stay Safe
Number 3 on the list of indicators we are watching as we weigh the decision to reopen: Government-issued stay at home orders.
This one is tricky for us, as one could read the City of Portland’s order as deeming residential cleaning “essential.” The order from the state offers no direct guidance.
We have chosen to abide by the principle of “first, do no harm” and have chosen to remain closed in the interest of safety, until we can be 100% confident that we are not contributing to community spread. We are choosing this course despite the profound economic impact for the business and our employees because we believe, based on the best available data, that staying home is the right thing to do.
I Feel Fine, So…
Of chief concern in my mind is the fact that any one of us could be carrying the virus and not know it. Indicators were pointing in this direction when we closed back on March 18th, and it was a big factor in that decision. Since that time, the CDC has cited a major study that demonstrated pretty conclusively that one can be “shedding” the virus (i.e. spreading it) for 1-3 days before showing symptoms.
Furthermore, people who show no symptoms at all can also unwittingly spread the virus. Sneaky little thing, isn’t it?
This has led to the CDC recommending cloth face masks be worn in public at all times, “especially in areas where there is active community transmission.” We’re looking at you, Cumberland County.
The stay-at-home orders are issued primarily to halt community transmission and give our healthcare system time to prepare for a surge. We need to maintain the utmost vigilance during this time to make sure we aren’t contributing to the problem.
The People Factor
Many of our staff members will have an understandable reluctancy to return to work in a job where they are entering and exiting homes all day, when their government is telling them and our customers to stay home and not allow visitors. Every day, I’m learning more and more that will enable us to ensure the safety of our staff and our customers, and I’m confident we will be able to resume safely, even before all of the social distancing measures are lifted.
Consider this, though: When someone accepts a job as a housekeeper, they are not signing up to be on the front lines of a global pandemic. They are agreeing to clean houses. Sure, germs are a part of the job. In fact, we are exposed to a lot of them. But during normal times that just a routine job hazard, and our standard protocols mitigate that risk to a level that’s acceptable to everyone. Not so during the most severe global pandemic in a century.
Therefore, until the strict stay-at-home orders are loosened, we can expect hesitancy and limited availability of staff. And I can’t say as I blame them. So long as strict stay-at-home orders remain in place, I will make returning to work voluntary for as long as I can reasonably manage.
I should also point out that part of my job as the owner/manager/leader is to work to educate and train our team members, to increase comfort levels and give them the tools they need to proceed confidently and safely. Our employees want to work. They just want to do so safely.
This type of education and training is central to our reopening plan. I’ll cover it in more detail in a future post.
Wishing you safety and health,