For weeks, we’ve all heard about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, which started in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. We’ve seen cruise ships quarantined (the latest of which is off the coast of California), travelers examined inside international airports, and public workers scrambling to disinfect trains, buses, and stations—all in effort to help stop the spread of the virus. Still, the World Health Organization (WHO) is reporting more than 93,000 cases worldwide, and even more disturbing, 3,100 deaths, 11 of which occurred in the U.S.

With the virus now confirmed in 17 states, it only stands to reason that the number of cases (and the number of deaths) will steadily rise in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Today, emergency preparedness is critical, especially among public and private sector organizations, as they must face the physical, financial and emotional consequences of a possible global pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that “all employers should be ready to implement strategies to protect their workforce from COVID-19 while ensuring continuity of operations. During a COVID-19 outbreak, all sick employees should stay home and away from the workplace, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene should be encouraged, and routine cleaning of commonly touched surfaces should be performed regularly.” Further, the CDC offers the following recommendations for an infectious disease outbreak response plan.