It is important to note at this time, the risk to Iowans remains
low, however it is certainly a good practice to begin thinking of the “what-if”
scenario on almost any normal day to day function.
From the beginning, a great start is to develop a business
emergency plan. The business (or government in this case) emergency plan covers
response actions that are pre-determined based on policy/best-practice
development prior to an incident. The plan can help turn what would be
“emergencies” into minor inconveniences. If needed, I can provide you resources
to begin that process and develop general guidelines to how you will respond to
emergencies. From a generality standpoint, we typically encourage organizations
to build plans on principles, not on incidents. Those principles can then be
broadly applied to whatever situation you might encounter. Every county in Iowa
has an emergency manager and many would be happy to help support plan
A Business Continuity Plan can help develop solutions to how the
doors will stay open and how essential functions will be managed.
Both of these planning methods are multiple step processes that
involve a wide participant base to create a well-rounded, diverse plan. While
some of these plans have been created when faced with challenges, it is
typically more productive, collaborative and beneficial when an appropriate
amount of time has been invested in its creation, without external pressures.
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has released general
guidance for businesses, that applies similarly to government functions. You
can find it here: https://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/userfiles/7/Business%20Guidance.pdf.
You can also find general Coronavirus information from IDPH here: https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus.
Here is some more specific response to the questions below. *Considerations are provided as an example and are not all-inclusive.
If your museum needs to be closed to the public for two weeks,
what are the essential functions of the museum that would still have to be
performed and who are the essential staff?
Great question, some things to consider are; Can your museum
financially handle not being open for two weeks? Are there state code
requirements involved, in which exemptions would need to be granted? Are there
maintenance and upkeep requirements for the materials within museums? Is there
adequate staffing (including backup staff) to support operations, should the
primary staff become ill?
If the museum was closed for a period of time, could your staff
work from home or how would your museum handle this?
This is an internal policy decision. Some things
to consider are lasting economic impact; if employee A is off work for 1 month,
unpaid, what effects does that have on the employee/employee household? The
community? Are there alternate functions that an employee could do from home?
For example, archiving paper documents or other task?
How are you mitigating the spread of germs while open?
I will leave this to Dallas County Health Department to add any
additional information, however I suspect there will be a recommendation to
follow the business guidance as listed in the link above.
Perform routine environmental cleaning:
• Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace,
such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning
agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the
directions on the label.
• No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended
at this time.
• Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for
example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped
down by employees before each use.
Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand
hygiene by all employees:
• Place posters that encourage staying home when sick, cough and
sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to your workplace
and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen.
• Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by
• Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an
alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95% alcohol, or wash
hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water
should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
• Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the
workplace. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs in
multiple locations or in conference rooms to encourage hand hygiene.
• Visit the coughing and sneezing etiquette and clean hands webpage
for more information.
AJ Seely, IA-CEM, Coordinator, Dallas County Emergency Management Agency