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Take a deep breath

Feb 24, 2020

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Coronavirus

What employers need to know about the coronavirus

David Brancaccio and Rose Conlon Feb 10, 2020
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Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Coronavirus

What employers need to know about the coronavirus

David Brancaccio and Rose Conlon Feb 10, 2020
Oli Scarff/Getty Images
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As efforts to contain the coronavirus continue around the world, companies are thinking about how to reduce the risk to their workforce.

It’s a good time for employers to be diligent about addressing illness prevention in the workplace, according to Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University.

“There are a couple of things that really are important, from a legal perspective. You don’t want to negligently or knowingly expose your workforce to a novel infection like a coronavirus,” Gostin told Marketplace’s David Brancaccio.

Gostin said employers should be proactive about protecting employee health, especially if they have an office in China or if employees have recently traveled there.

That means having more conversations about health with everyone, and encouraging workers to take a sick day or work from home if they need to.

Gostin emphasized that this doesn’t mean having these conversations with only some employees or engaging in racial stereotyping.

“Sometimes disease epidemics bring out the worst in us. You should never make special arrangements or single people out based on their nationality or their race,” said Gostin.

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