CDC Foundation Hosts Online Seminars To Help Key Industries Map Out Reopening During COVID-19

There are millions of confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide. As leaders in public health and health care work towards treating patients and possible medical interventions, other sectors of society are looking toward reopening and recovery. This includes business owners who would like to safely resume operations while limiting risk to their staff and the public.

To help, the CDC Foundation, in collaboration with Leavitt Partners, recently hosted a series of online seminars, each with a specific industry focus. The seminars were designed to provide insights into existing resources and tools, as well as share a risk analysis framework to help business owners and other essential organizations, like daycare and schools, make key operational decisions as they consider reopening while the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Retailers, childcare providers and K-12 education leaders were the focus of the three 90-minute presentations, which were moderated by the former Utah Governor and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, Mike Leavitt, who is founder of Leavitt Partners. Leavitt served as the Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush’s administration. Thousands of participants joined these virtual seminars.

Each session featured presentations from both public health experts and industry leaders, panel discussions to provide insight and recommendations, and a live question and answer session with participants. The discussions provided an outlook on current efforts to fight COVID-19 from a public health perspective, presented a framework to help participants assess their individual risk to possible spread, and ways to mitigate those risks in retail businesses, daycare, and K-12 settings. Participants were also provided with suggestions for how to partner with their local and state health departments in their reopening efforts.

“We recognize there is not a one size fits all approach that will work for all situations,” said Judy Monroe, MD, President and CEO of the CDC Foundation, when speaking to participants during the webinar. “Each setting is unique and therefore is going to require a unique plan to mitigate the risks of COVID-19. That’s why we think this framework is so helpful by giving you a standard approach to think through the risk profile of your unique situation.”

As part of this risk assessment, the framework outlines seven key “situational characteristics,” which are elements of environments or situations that may be categorized as higher or lower risk including proximity, group size and respiratory output for individuals in a space. These characteristics can be adapted when considering many different types of businesses and help owners to think about new approaches to welcoming people into a space, safety protocols for staff and clients, and the best approach to maintain proper physical distancing.

Participants were also encouraged to collaborate with local leaders in their area including state and local public health departments to find creative approaches to unique, community-specific challenges.

“We’re certainly in the best position than any society has ever been to navigate a pandemic successfully,” said Leavitt. “We have the tools of collaboration. We can succeed at this.”

Materials from all three sessions, including webinar discussions and executive summaries available in multiple languages, are online and can be found here.

Candace Wheeler is a communications officer for the CDC Foundation.