Commentary: Finalize your business playbook for COVID-19

Businesses should help with vaccine distribution and workplace safety measures.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) People line up for their COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, March 18, 2021, as the Utah Film Studios in Park City loans its space to the Summit County Health Department as a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination station.

Consensus medical and public health opinion is that large-scale vaccination is the sustainable way to control the virus and end its disruptive effects. The most immediate and important thing you can do is schedule your vaccination appointment and consider the state’s call to step up and serve as a volunteer, as large scale vaccine distribution reaches Utah. Those willing to help can sign up at utahresponds.org and join the Utah Department of Health and Medical Reserve Corps to end the pandemic.

The next most important action you can take is to ensure your business maintains an environment that follows guidelines from the health care community to combat the virus.

Businesses and entrepreneurs solve problems, and they set an example early on in our efforts to contain the virus and mitigate its economic impact. Having in place a business continuity plan with education resources and flexible implementation, along with incentives for employee and customer participation will be important, as will structuring a system to provide or encourage ongoing testing as employees return to work and re-engage in larger gatherings and events.

The Roadmap to Recovery Coalition has adopted survey results to build a vaccine business resource page for organizations to use as they build a program and toolsets uniquely suited to their needs. To ensure we reach a complete economic recovery, we call on leaders to support and effectively communicate to those with whom you have stewardship, to encourage them to receive a vaccination, and to provide incentives and flexibility, as appropriate.

In a recent webinar, Lt. Gov. Diedre Henderson said that nearly 80% of seniors over 70 had already received the vaccine. This is a good start, indicating that the most vulnerable are receiving protection but we must continue the trend, and to succeed it will become imperative for businesses to provide support and flexibility. The availability of vaccinations will determine when differing age and at-risk groups will be eligible, and businesses that can accommodate will benefit themselves, as employees become resistant to contagion.

The state has reached a milestone of over 1 million vaccinations, including vaccinating 34,290 Utahns in one day. This is encouraging news, however there is still a need, according to Henderson to support vaccine equity in the distribution process. Leading by example, volunteering to support upcoming large vaccination venues or mobile units with information are equally important to get the word out among those less connected to traditional media outlets.

From the beginning, efforts to fight the coronavirus, such as testing, PPE safety precautions, and now vaccine remedies have required a public-private partnership. A few items to consider as you and your business implement your playbook to incorporate ongoing testing and vaccination include:

  • General information around vaccine distribution, categorization and CDC guidelines

  • COVID-19 Vaccination Business Checklist

  • Employee vaccination information

  • Education and training, including webinars and a communication toolkit

  • Economic data included in the Roadmap to Recovery Coalition Dashboard

  • Additional resources from the CDC, OSHA, state of Utah, Health & Human Services

Additional resources are available from the Salt Lake Chamber to help you effectively deal with the challenges of COVID-19. We express appreciation for these tools and the thousands of Utahns who have worked tirelessly to combat the pandemic.

Now, hope is on the horizon. We are close to a return to normal -- opening up commerce, social life, family and worship. It is what we have all been working for, and in the process we have proven that together we can prevail.

Derek Miller

Derek Miller is president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber.

Mikelle Moore

Mikelle Moore is senior vice president and chief community health officer at Intermountain Healthcare.

Scott Parson

Scott Parson is CEO of Staker Parson Materials & Constructions.

Moore and Parson are co-chairs of the Salt Lake Chamber Roadmap to Recovery Coalition.