The impact of the coronavirus on Arizona businesses is yet to be seen. After the market dropped more than 2,000 points on Monday—a record since the financial crisis of 2008—many are fearing the worst, but the ultimate impact will depend on many factors including how quickly health officials are able to contain the disease. According to the evolving McKinsey Report “COVID-19: Implications for Business,” three broad economic scenarios are possible: a quick recovery in the US by the end of Q1, a global slowdown impacting the US economy until mid Q2 and an all-out pandemic-driven recession.

While the long-term economic impact on local businesses is unclear, there is no doubt that COVID-19 is impacting employer and employee behaviors. Major events, conferences and tradeshows have been cancelled. Non-essential travel is being eliminated and employers are implementing work from home policies. One of Arizona’s business leaders, CEO of Scientific Technology Corporation (STC), Mike Popovich, is at the forefront of the conversation. Founded in 1988, Scientific Technology Corporation’s mission is to eradicate vaccine preventable disease. They are working to achieve this through the use of data in their disease surveillance and immunization information systems. Data is translated into information which empowers doctors and pharmacists allowing these providers to influence individuals to be proactive in their health care.

A longtime partner of the Centers for Disease Control and the Arizona Department of Health Services, Scientific Technology Corporation recently launched a COVID-19 preparedness taskforce. This taskforce has taken on the challenge of preparing state immunization information systems, to include Arizona’s, to support a new COVID-19 vaccine if it is available. STC’s public and private health partners made up of key health experts in the US and Internationally, are working to ensure that the entire community is prepared to take on COVID-19 and any future outbreak or pandemic. COVID-19 lab results and case management are already added into STC’s disease surveillance tools so public health can report and send information electronically to the CDC. According to Popovich, “In addition to lab results essential in identifying the spread of this outbreak, in the last 30 days, we have given over 15,000 consumers access to their immunization records in public health immunization systems. We don’t have a COVID-19 vaccine yet, but people want to feel in control of their health, and getting up to date on immunizations is one way they can do that. There are still a lot of unknowns, but we aren’t going to sit around and wait until we know. We are armed and ready to support our public and pharmacy health partners NOW.”

Dr. Scott Hamstra, Medical Director of STC agrees with other health experts that everyone should be focused on what they can control. He suggests frequent washing of hands, eliminating hand to face contact and limiting exposure to public surfaces known to spread germs and disease. Among the germiest surfaces we come into contact with are fuel pumps, mailbox handles, ATM buttons and escalator rails. One study found that 71% of gas pump handles tested were highly contaminated with the kinds of germs most associated with a high risk of illness and contained 11,000 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. One of Arizona’s headquartered companies, Zigi Gas, is addressing the issue at the pump by offering mobile delivery of wet fuel. Founded in 2017, CEO Ben Pijawka and his team have been delivering fuel as an employee benefit to corporate campuses, large fleets and other high density parking lots. Services like these can help protect the public from coming into contact with harmful bacteria as they go about their daily routines.

As we wait to understand the net impact of COVID-19 on the local economy, business leaders are encouraged to stay informed and keep a level head. Employees are looking to leadership for guidance and reassurance and will not be fooled by false optimism. Leading crisis management and consulting firms recommend clear communication. First, reassure your employees that your organization is mindful of the situation. Explain any precautions being taken, including work from home policies, travel restrictions, etc. Point staff towards sources of unbiased official information such as the Center for Disease Control and World Health Organization. Finally, name a key point of contact for employees to express concerns or ask questions. More than ever, employees are looking for business leaders to act decisively and demonstrate the leadership their teams need during this stressful time.