The coronavirus (COVID-19) has altered the lives of most Ohioans as major gatherings such as sporting events, concerts and even school classes have been suspended or canceled until further notice. So far though, the impact on construction work in Central Ohio has been limited.
In humans, coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections. Symptoms of the virus, which may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure, may include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Anyone who displays these symptoms are strongly encouraged to stay home and alert their medical provider.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the virus spreads mainly from person-to-person, generally between those who are in close contact (within about 6 feet). It can also be spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is believed the virus can live on the surfaces of objects for an unknown period.
According to the CDC, risk of infection from COVID-19 is currently low for most people in the U.S., mainly most of the U.S workforce, including the construction industry.
According to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, as of noon on March 15, there have were more than 3,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in the U.S. The disease has caused a reported 61 deaths in the U.S., with the vast majority, occurring on the West Coast, including 19 in a Seattle area nursing home.
There have been five reported cases of COVID-19 in Ohio, including three in Cuyahoga County and one each in Stark and Trumbull counties, as of March 15.
Throughout Ohio, building trades leaders have been monitoring the situation of this fast-spreading virus.
In Central Ohio, Dorsey Hager, Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer, said tradesmen and tradeswomen are performing work as normal.
While actual construction work continues, the virus has caused the cancellation of two major building trades conferences set for late March in Washington D.C. – the IBEW Construction and Maintenance Conference and the North America’s Building Trades Unions Legislative Conference.
Hager said building trades members need to follow good hygiene protocols, especially those recommended by the CDC:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Throw all used tissues in the trash.
- When possible, try to stay at least six feet away from other people.
Hager strongly urges members who feel sick or display symptoms of the virus to stay home in order to not get anyone else on the jobsite sick.