This column is written by retired Lancaster healthcare executive Hilda Shirk, PhD, MSW, who leads the Public Health Mitigation Team for the Lancaster County Economic Recovery Plan, a $33.4 million initiative spearheaded by the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County and the Lancaster Chamber. The plan to help businesses safely reemerge from the COVID-19 pandemic after months of economic shutdown is approved by the Board of Lancaster County Commissioners and funded with federal CARES Act dollars. Visit RecoveryLancaster.com for details.
It was a global concern about public health that derailed our thriving economy here in Lancaster County. And it is a continued concern about public health that will get us back on our feet.
We learned a lot in the past several months about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and how to manage the health of those who become infected. But the reality is, we do not yet have a way to effectively prevent or treat the virus.
Our best way forward, is to prevent its spread so those who do get sick can get the care they need without overwhelming healthcare systems and community resources. We want to return to life beyond our homes, allowing our businesses and community to reopen and stay open.
Following public health guidelines puts us on the path to make that happen.
As a former CEO, I understand the cost to business of employees who are absent due to illness or care of a family member who is ill. With COVID-19, it falls to employers to provide the work environment and guidelines that prevent the spread of infection and keep our employees healthy.
We all know we are vulnerable to what an employee may inadvertently bring to our doors, but once there, we need to offer a safe environment with all the recommended screening, distancing, cleaning, masking, etc., that is appropriate for the type of business we run.
When we invite customers into our workspace, all those safeguards get a bit more complicated, but need to be in place. Of course, our controlled environment ends at our doors, so we need our communities and governments to support guidelines that keep our employees safe where they shop, live, and play.
We are truly reliant on each other to make the simple decisions to use the tools we have to protect ourselves and our neighbors. RecoveryLancaster.com, the website for the Lancaster County Economic Recovery Plan, offers general information on COVID-19, local data that give us current rates of infection, as well as early warning signs so we can know if the virus is overwhelming our community resources, and links to guidance for mitigating risk.
Clear and up-to-date information offer us the control and the power we need to build trust for our employees and customers. Getting back to business is an imperative, and we want to provide the resources you need to make that happen.