The Washington Department of Health confirmed on Saturday the first coronovirus-related death in the United States in Oregon and confirmed at least five additional coronavirus-related deaths this week. As concerns grow over cases of unknown origin, Vice President Mike Pence, who’s been designated as the lead on the coronavirus for the White House, said that the risk for the average American still remains low. There have been over 90,000 coronavirus cases reported worldwide. This week we take a look at how industries are utilizing their enterprise risk management programs.
SCHOOL’S OUT FOR...?
All schools in Japan closed this week and will remain closed until the school year ends in late March. The closure – thought to affect 13 million students – is to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. China’s schools – affecting 200 million students – have been following classes online from their homes and will continue to do so until April. Schools around the U.S. are canceling trips abroad and updating their emergency plans to prepare for possible school closures that could stretch for weeks. Schools are stressing that the risk of exposure is low and are working on prevention with cleaning crews paying extra attention to surfaces that students touch throughout the day. There is also growing fear that colleges and universities will see a major decline in international students this fall, which accounts for $43 billion annually in the U.S. A handful of universities have taken out insurance policies in recent years to protect them from a significant drop in Chinese students. In the 2018-2019 school year, nearly 370,000 students were from China.
DO THEY HAVE FREE SHIPPING?
As the coronavirus outbreak spreads, the world’s biggest companies have been reporting how the outbreak is affecting supply chains and disrupting manufacturing operations. There are predictions that the peak of the impact will occur in mid-March, forcing thousands of companies to throttle down or temporarily shut assembly and manufacturing plants in the U.S. and Europe. The most vulnerable companies are those which rely heavily or solely on factories in China for parts and materials. Automotive suppliers are warning car companies they could run out of certain parts used in North American factories in coming weeks, with particular concern over shortages of electronic components. The FDA has just reported the first drug shortage of a certain drug and is monitoring 20 other drugs for shortages.
IS ANYBODY HERE?
The Tokyo Organizing Committee pushed back on speculation that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics could lead to the cancellation of the Summer Games, after an International Olympic Committee official appeared to suggest otherwise. Japan’s overall cost for the Summer Games is at about $28 billion and 4.5 million tickets have been sold to spectators. On Sunday, 200 elite runners of the Tokyo marathon ran to empty streets as 30,000 general participants were told to stay home to combat the spread of the coronavirus. In the U.S., major tech conferences and large company internal events have been canceled and major companies have pulled out of conferences that are still forging ahead. In college sports, the National College Players Association is calling on the NCAA to consider holding the March Madness men’s basketball tournament without an audience.
AS THE SAYING GOES…
The best measure is to wash your hands frequently. The World Health Organization has additional tips for prevention. Stay healthy.
CAN WE GET SOME HELP?
The National Governors Association (NGA) last week urged federal lawmakers to pass cybersecurity legislation this year that would offer assistance to state and local governments. Specifically, the NGA called out three federal bills that would authorize cybersecurity grant funding for states and localities to help improve the preparation, response, and recovery efforts related to cyber incidents. The bills mentioned are the State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act, the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act, and the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act.
HOW BAD CAN IT BE?
During the first half of 2019, nearly two-thirds of ransomware attacks targeted state and local governments. Last July, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency after multiple public school systems were hit with a cyberattack. States, public schools, and local governments are gathering and storing more critical data than ever before. The Congressionally mandated Cyberspace Solarium Commission, a group aimed at tackling how the U.S. will approach a national strategy, will release its report with specific recommendations March 11. We’ll keep tracking to see if more federal resources are allocatedted to state and local governments.
Making Our Way Around the Country
Law makers introduced a new bill (S.B. 7843) that would require the NY Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) to hold a hearing announcing a final decision before a workers’ compensation case would be closed. It would require the WCB to stenographic all hearings and would require the minutes to be provided to the injured workers in their native language – with no cost to the injured worker. The bill is in the Senate Labor Committee.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will reduce rates by 13% for Ohio private employers beginning July 1. This would save employers nearly $132 million. This reduction marks BWC’s third largest rate cut in 60 years and follows last year’s 20% rate reduction. Public employers saw a 10% rate reduction that went into effect Jan. 1. Overall, the average rate levels for private and public Ohio employers in the BWC system are at their lowest in at least 40 years.
The Virginia legislature passed a bill that directs the VA Workers’ Compensation Commission to examine the implications of covering workers’ injuries caused by repetitive motion through the workers’ compensation system. Originally, this bill sought to include repetitive injury claims, like carpal tunnel syndrome, under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Virginia is the only state that doesn’t allow for repetitive motion claims in workers’ compensation.
Reminder to set your clocks forward an hour on March 8 for daylight saving time. Be careful adjusting to the time change as fatal car accidents in the U.S. spike by 6% during the workweek following the “spring forward.” I’ll be celebrating my mom’s birthday that day with some good Korean BBQ!