Here are some solid steps to take to monitor and help minimize the impact of any coronavirus outbreak.
Credit unions of all asset sizes struggle with pandemic planning. Many have policies that refer to pandemic plans or contagious diseases but, ask them to see the pandemic or contagious disease plan, and they have nothing in writing.
Currently the World Health Organization has declared the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a “global health emergency.” If this doesn’t move you to take action by at least reviewing your pandemic plan, I guess you think the coronavirus can be cured with limes. Hint: It can't.
In the past, we have had to deal with outbreaks such as H1N1, ebola, measles. We are currently dealing with widespread influenza. Many credit unions' business continuity planning is focused on such threats as natural disasters and cyber events and on business processes and systems. What about the people who maintain the systems and perform the business processes? Most credit unions do nothing about a known outbreak until it becomes more localized. By that time, it may be too late.
Below are some steps your credit union can take to monitor and help minimize the impact of a pandemic outbreak.
- Center for Disease Control
- World Health Organization
- Your local health organization
- News channels (world and local) via television, internet, radio or print media
- Ensure critical business processes can be completed remotely and this capability has been tested.
- Ensure remote work capability for persons completing the critical business processes.
- Cross-train staff in each department to ensure business interruption will be limited or nonexistent.
- Plan for extended employee absences.
- Remind staff of proper hygiene (hand washing, cough and sneeze into elbow, etc).
- Verify third-party vendors have a plan (you may be counting on them to step in and help with your business processes).
- Sponsor flu shots. While advertising the flu shots, encourage members to sign up for online banking. This can help them avoid contact with possible sick members at branches.
These ideas are by no means all that needs to be done but can be used to get the process started. They can be used for annual influenza outbreaks also.
Tim Daughtery is managing director of business continuity planning at Ongoing Operations, Hagerstown, Maryland.