Mario's Corner - March 2020.

Doing Business in the Age of the Coronavirus.

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I have been following closely the news in the last few days regarding the new coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on business and on stocks.


As a brief background, coronaviruses are not new.  The first ones were discovered in the 1960s, although it is believed they have been around for centuries. Initially identified were infectious bronchitis virus in chickens and some in nasal cavities in patients with a cold. They are responsible for 15% to 30% of all common colds in humans and most people recover without negative long-term impact.


​Unfortunately, some, such as the SARS virus in 2003 and COVID-19 (the one recently discovered) can make people quite sick and can even kill them.  Although this is a deadly disease, businesses need to think logically and not panic.  Instead, they need to assess the impact of the disease in an intelligent manner that protects their employees.

What can companies do when the concerns around this disease are growing?  I believe there are three key steps that should be taken to ensure that the public understands the dangers of this new coronavirus while at the same time not falling prey to the current public panic reaction.


1.  EDUCATE THEMSELVES AND THEIR CUSTOMERS - Understanding the disease and its impact on humans is the first step to understanding the real risks.  For example, the current death rate of the disease is approximately 2-3%. Although we should not diminish its seriousness, it is also important to point out that the common influenza kill an average of up to 6% of infected people every year.  Additionally, most of the deaths of COVID-19 at this point have been elderly adults or people with underlying health conditions- the same population that is most impacted by the common flu.  At the same time, research shows that most people only have slight symptoms while sick and some are asymptomatic. 


2. REDUCE THE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH THE DISEASE - Since COVID-19 (and other viruses) are transmitted through close contact via respiratory droplets generated by sneezing and coughing, people should continuously wash their hands and stay away from people who are sick.  This is easier said than done, but businesses can reduce exposure by allowing employees to work remotely and reduce business travel.  Instead, employees should be allowed to meet via telephone or videoconferences, thus reducing the danger of exposure.  Unfortunately, the use of masks, unless they are the correct type and used properly, do not reduce the risk of infection.  Thus, companies should not promote this practice, although they should not discourage it either.


3.  UNDERSTAND THAT CORONAVIRUSES ARE PART OF THE NORMAL RISKS TO WHICH HUMANS ARE EXPOSED IN EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES - Although this is a serious disease, so are many others to which humans are exposed on a daily basis.  Additionally, accidents are also part of everyday life and many more people have been killed in auto accidents over the last year than are expected to die from the COVID-19 virus this year.  Businesses need to continue to educate employees on any dangers/risks that exist in today's world without causing panic.


Ultimately, reducing risk exposure and promoting healthy clean habits are the most important steps that can be taken to combat the disease.  On the other hand, unless humans want to live in a bubble that protects them of all diseases and viruses (not possible), we will need to learn to live with yet another disease on our midst.


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Please do not hesitate to call me at 1 (617) 391-0347 or e-mail me at mariocastaneda@bluesailconsulting.com to talk about this or any other subject.  I always like to hear from clients and readers.  

Additionally, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@bluesailconsulting.com if you are facing strategic or implementation issues ranging from launching a product to improving your business culture  We can help you to do this.

I look forward to seeing you here again in April.


Best Regards,

Mario

Blue Sail Consulting: Business Planning, innovation, And Execution