The Office of Personnel Management issued a memo for federal agency leaders with an update on the situation with the coronavirus as it pertains to the federal workforce and the operation of federal agencies.
OPM said it is monitoring the situation and wants to ensure federal employees have the most current information from the Centers for Disease Control on the virus to help prevent its spread.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared the coronavirus to be a public health emergency in the United States at the end of last week, but the action was taken to help “focus efforts as we are dealing with unknowns.”
Officials continued to stress that the risk to the general public remains low, a point which OPM echoed in its memo.
OPM reminded federal employees to use good health habits such as hand washing and for sick employees to seek medical treatment and use sick leave or other appropriate workplace flexibilities to avoid spreading any illness to others. OPM said that agencies should consider implementing social distancing, including the use of telework, where necessary.
OPM will continue to provide any new information as it becomes available and said it has established a working group of key agencies to determine what human resources guidance is needed to assist employees and agencies in dealing with concerns about exposure to the virus.
OPM plans to issue any necessary guidance as soon as possible to assist agencies in meeting two equally important goals: (1) the safety of the Federal workforce, and (2) the continuity of operations.
A copy of the OPM memo is included at the end of the article.
About the Coronavirus
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats and bats, according to the CDC. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread.
Symptoms can include fever, cough, or shortness of breath and may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 after exposure.
The CDC said the best method of prevention is to avoid exposure to the virus and avoiding close contact with people who are sick. Washing your hands frequently, using hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol, and staying home when you are sick are other recommended preventative measures.
The CDC does not recommend the use of face masks for the general public to prevent the spread of the virus.
CDC is updating its website daily with new information about the virus as it becomes available.