Communicating About Confirmed Case of COVID-19
Please use the following as a basis for discussions with your team surrounding the recent COVID-19 confirmation of a Lac du Flambeau resident.
Background for Supervisors/Managers
As a supervisor or manager, you are a trusted source of information. Your teammates look to you for guidance and reassurance about challenges within the workplace. It’s imperative we only share facts we know are true. Please encourage people to share factual information. Discourage spreading rumors and unfounded comments, because those negatively impact our teams and our community.
Requested Action & Guidelines
- Please assemble your teams virtually via phone or zoom in next 24 hours. If in person meetings, please observe safety protocols. Discuss the following information. But more importantly, take time to listen to each team member. After the group discussion, please circle back to each employee to check up on them and ask how they are doing or if they have any concerns that they did not share in the group discussion. Reinforce the safety measures already in place and the information below. NOTE: Telling people something once, maybe half will remember. Twice and 75 percent will remember. Three times and 90 percent of people will be able to recall a message. Look for opportunities over time to reinforce the facts.
- Show understanding. Communicate that you understand that health and security mean many things to different people. As a means of encouraging your team to share their feelings, share with them that you understand that some people think of physical, emotional and spiritual health. Others think of financial, employment and daily life security. Acknowledge that for some it’s scary and for some it may not be scary. Some may be more afraid of not providing income for their families than fear of getting sick.
- It’s important to ask everyone to be supportive and understanding of others, even if we disagree on certain things. We will be better off together than divided (together even though physically apart, if you will). Share how you are feeling as a primer to asking them about their feelings.
- Ask them how they are feeling and what questions/concerns they have.
- Commit to getting their questions answered with facts. Do so as quickly as possible. No more than 24 hours. This will help build confidence in the efforts to keep everyone safe as possible and help spread factual information. Ensure they know you are always willing to get them facts.
- It’s important you take your leadership role seriously. Your team looks to you and how you react and discuss the situation. For example, if a supervisor talks down the plan or engages in gossip, the team you lead will likely do the same. If you deal in facts and share information you know to be true, they will likely do so as well. Lead by example.
KEY POINTS TO DISCUSS WITH TEAMMATES
- The virus has been around Vilas County for months. Now we have a confirmed case specific to a Lac du Flambeau resident. This positive test for COVID-19 activated the Tribe’s plan to track and trace where the infected person traveled and who they contacted. This plan has been ready for months to activate as a means of isolating the virus and preventing its spread.
What We’re Doing
- We’re following the same protocols that Vilas County enacted when they discovered the virus arrived elsewhere in the county several weeks ago. The last occurrence in Vilas County, up until this most recent case in LDF, we believe, happened in early April. That indicates their protocols of tracking, tracing and isolating those infected with the virus contained the virus without a new case until now—almost two months later.
- We are in the process of testing people who came in close contact with the person who tested positive. So far, the rapid testing has been negative and they are asymptomatic or not showing symptoms of being sick. All close contacts will be in isolation for 14 days, following the protocols and monitoring for symptoms. They will be tested and instructed on what they need to do to prevent the spread of the virus.
What Hasn’t Changed
- Our plans to prevent the spread of the virus remain sound and based on science.
- Social distancing and hand washing top the list of effective actions to prevent virus spread.
- We are prepared to deal with the virus by working with public health experts and PCHC.
- Other safety measures already in place all are designed to help limit the spread of the virus:
- These might include reconfiguration of work areas, staggered shifts, building access limits, and other safety measures such as masks and gloves, working from home and more; please remind teammates of these measures in place for months; remind them the virus had been confirmed elsewhere in the county and region for months; these protocols were designed to help prevent community spread should the virus arrive.
- Our commitment remains in place to provide support needed if teammates become sick.
- We believe, based on the science, the safety measures in place will allow our teammates to continue to carry out their roles.
- We also believe, based on the science—and the delicate balance between physical, emotional and spiritual health and financial, employment and daily life security—our plan allows teammates to pursue all of the above while keeping everyone as safe as possible.
- If there are special circumstances or concerns by teammates, please have them contact human resources to confidentially discuss the situation.
- This virus presents new and different challenges daily. We must remain flexible and adapt to what’s in front of us. We will adjust policies and procedures based on science as needed to keep people as safe as possible. Please reinforce this message with teammates to give them an understanding of what we are all up against with this virus.
What We Have Done To Prepare
- Please know we’re taking action based on expert insights and best available information.
- Early on, we moved quickly to update policies and programs to help our people weather this emergency.
- For months we’ve implemented safety measures (social distancing and handwashing and cleaning and building access protocols among other actions) to keep people as safe as possible.
- These measures appear to have limited the spread of the virus. This is indicated in the fact that one person has tested positive so far in LDF, after months of the virus being discovered elsewhere within Vilas County.
- We planned for the virus to arrive here. We have plans in place to track, trace and isolate the virus.
- Please thank them for their understanding, patience and flexibility. We all are having to adapt to a new normal for the time being to keep people as safe as possible.
- Finally, thank you—supervisors and managers—for your leadership and ongoing communication with your teams. Studies show your actions and words are observed, followed and trusted most by your teammates.
- If you have questions, please contact HR to discuss. Thank again!