Coronavirus & Construction (Mar 13)

Not much programming progress this week: our staff has been distracted by pandemic news and planning. It’s hard to stay focused on code when something possibly-deadly is happening outside.

Coronavirus probably has been around ever since vertebrates first moved onto land. It lives in the respiratory system and spreads mostly via cough/sneeze droplets. Several strains exist in humans. They and rhinovirus cause most common colds. No big deal.

However, COVID-19 is a new variation. It jumped from bats to another mammal to humans last fall. People aren’t used to it, and that’s why it’s dangerous. This new virus is more infectious than influenza, and more lethal. Most people just catch a chest cold with slight fever, so they barely notice it (and spread it to others). 20% get pneumonia and need hospital care. Some of them die: especially if over 60, or in already poor health. With good medical care, the death rate is under 1% (still 10x as bad as the flu). When the disease spreads too quickly, hospitals are overwhelmed and 3% to 6% die.

Countries with significant deaths from SARS in 2003 were well-prepared for SARS-CoV-2. They contained the spread, and are almost back to normal now. It required a huge response in China, and less extreme actions elsewhere.

The rest of the world hasn’t done as well.  Things are real bad in Italy right now, and they turned deadly very quickly. The rest of Europe is only a week or so behind them. Conditions in the USA are more uncertain, since there has been so little testing here.  However, cases are already reported in almost every state. Celebrities are catching it. The shit is almost certain to hit the fan very soon. Exponential growth gets scary at this part of the curve.

It’s too late to stop Covid-19, but it can be slowed. Then hospitals aren’t overloaded, and fewer people die. Word is already getting out about the need for social distancing, but here are some thoughts more specific to construction companies:

      • Shut down for a while, if you can. If you are solo, this is a great time to get some  work done on your own house. If you have employees, can they handle a break? Isolation is the best way to protect your own health, and the health of your community.
      • If not, use face masks. N95 masks significantly reduce the spread of virus-laden droplets. “Easy breathe” masks won’t protect others if the user is infected, but a bit of duct tape over the outlet will fix that. Full respirators and haz-mats are even better if you can stand them. Fortunately, construction sites are less disease-transmittable than most workplaces, and they have other hazards that require masks.
      • Be clear with employees and subs. Send them home ASAP if sick, or don’t even let them come in. This might be time to start paying sick leave, if you don’t already. Emphasize the need for testing and self-quarantine. If you have an ear thermometer, it might help to check people for fever.
      • Stagger work hours & locations if you can. The less time people spend close to each other, the slower disease spreads.
      • Be clear with clients. If you work in client homes, let them know your plans. You might need to add plastic sheeting barriers, and sanitize more thoroughly at day’s end. Switch to outdoor work, if possible.
      • Take the usual precautions. Wash hands often. Cancel group events. Practice social distancing. Listen to local & state health departments. Check out the links below.

What you should do as a Business Owner
Covid-19 FAQs from Harvard U
CDC Covid-19 Website
Vox guide to Coronavirus
Johns Hopkins tracker (sometimes overloaded)

Please stay safe and healthy!

Dennis Kolva
Programming Director

Author: Dennis Kolva

Programming Director for Turtle Creek Software. Design & planning of accounting and estimating software.