We’re still in the eye of the storm of this COVID-19 pandemic and while some people what things to get back to normal and want the economy to open up with no strings attached there are some people like myself that are scared and feel stuck with the choices we’ll have to make.
Before I talk about my thoughts about this whole situation let me preface it by saying I’m not a doctor. Nor am a I a scientist or economist. I’m a small business owner. In fact, I started my business in 2008 and have had a very successful business up until this COVID-19 thing hit.
Boom. Just like that my business came to a screeching halt, much like many other small businesses around the United States and even the world. Although I’m not struggling as much as I thought I would, my fears are real and this little wave I’m floating on now will lower unless our economy gets going again soon.
You see, I depend on my clients to travel, to work, to go on vacation and visit family in other states. When they stay home, my work stops. I’m a professional pet sitter and dog walker and there’s not much need for what I do when my client’s are home on the couch or out walking their own dog.
The Numbers are Scary
As I pause and think about the numbers we’re looking at right now, around 30,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S., although that’s not completely accurate because the count doesn’t include the people that have died in nursing homes as far as I know. We’re up to 22 million in unemployment claims the last time I saw and some states have done very little to protect their citizens from this virus.
And with warmer days approaching and money being lost daily, increasing efforts to open stores and businesses are prompting ‘the leaders that be’ to put us all in some scary predicaments..
What Should Employers Do?
As an employer myself, I never want to put my staff in dangerous situations. However, if our businesses are allowed to open back up, like nothing has happened, that’s incredibly dangerous for me professionally, legally and ethically.
Let’s say we’re all encouraged to start working again and schools open back up.
A new client calls me needing daily dog walking visits. This person was doing a self-quarantine and then when the travel restrictions were lifted, she travels to Michigan to visit her parents. While she’s there she comes into contact with many old friends and relatives, stops and eats at a couple different restaurants and then travels home. Her job contacts her and says to come back to work. So she calls me.
I go over, meet her, get everything set up for me to start the following week then she starts showing symptoms. She keeps taking ibuprofen and Nyquil when she’s at home to stave off the chills and fever. She fails to tell me this then I go into her home and visit her dog at lunch time for 5 days. She fails to tell her employer. And she exposes every single person she comes into contact with at her call center job.
On Saturday of that first week of her being back to work, she emails me and says that she doesn’t need me next week because she’s staying home – sick.
Meanwhile, I’ve come in contact with so many people I can’t even remember. I try and trace my steps and go through my phone and calendar. Maybe I start showing symptoms, maybe my staff does because we’ve had several meetings in the past week.
I could be held legally liable (possibly) for sending my staff into a situation where they contracted COVID-19. Do you know what implications that could have on my and my business? Imagine what something like this could do to a large shopping center or factory? If proven that they contracted the virus and became partially disabled because it damaged their lungs so bad they’re entitled to government disability – yikes! – that’s on me!!
This whole thing can snowball again and cause another lock down like we’re in now. I can’t imagine what business owners will do if they start facing situations like that. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer but come on, we could have a lot of suicides, foreclosures, business closures and a nightmare on our hands.
Employers – Be Careful – Demand COVID-19 Testing
Employers should be extremely careful now. Err on the side of caution. Demand COVID-19 and/or antibody testing for all of your staff, employees, sub-contractors before they’re sent back into the field or brought back into the stores.
But not doing testing, we’re in theory, allowing the virus to spread.
Employers will be faced not only with trying to rebuild their business and step it up to the demand they’ll face, but they’ll also need to deal with employees that start calling in sick and stop showing up for work.
The business won’t be able to keep up with supplying products, goods or services and they’ll eventually have to stop and close their doors. Maybe temporarily or permanently, who knows, but this doesn’t have to happen.
At this time and in my opinion, all businesses, both large and small, should speak out for mandatory COVID-19 testing for their staff. People can have this virus and not show any signs of it but if we can catch it early, we’ll be in a better place to handle it.
While I long for the day for our economy to be back to where it was, I’m hesitant in wishing for that to happen unless more COVID-19 testing is done across the nation and world. This pandemic has changed all of our lives, let’s just hope we change things now so history doesn’t repeat itself.
Thanks for reading, stay safe,
Kelley Stewart CEO|Pet Sitter
“Your pet sitting, dog walking poop scooping specialists!”