Local organizations advise business owners on how to protect their employees during COVID-19 pandemic

Local News

PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — With the number of COVID-19 cases in Illinois rising, local agencies are advising business owners on how to keep their employees safe.

The Tazewell County Health Department and Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce united on this effort, Tuesday morning, through a presentation via Zoom.

Sara Sparkman, communications manager for the health department, led the presentation and cautioned employers to never assume the virus isn’t present.

“Make sure that you are assuming that it could be in your community and it could be in your business,” Sparkman said. “So, act as if it is.”

Sparkman also emphasized the importance of practicing good hygiene and proper cleaning in the workplace.

“Here at the Health Department our maintenance staff is going around cleaning our door handles and light switches,” Sparkman said. “We are responsible for cleaning our own work stations.”

Other strategies she recommended included encouraging sick employees to stay home. She also mentioned taking your temperature before leaving home, and making sure it doesn’t rise to 100.4 degrees.

Sparkman also said business owners should offer flexible sick leave policies, discourage hand-shaking and promote mask-wearing.

Dan Pfeifer, a State Farm agent in Pekin, said his employees implement many of these suggestions and focus heavily on social distancing.

“Half of my team works from home, half of them are here in the office,” Pfeifer said. “However, we’ve had to close the lobby and limit it to really really essential people coming in.”

Pfeifer said the safety changes implemented, including video chatting, are challenging but it’s all for the best.

“But I think we’re all in this together and it’s been welcomed by all of my clients,” Pfeifer said.

Sparkman is also pushing for employers to take their employees mental health into account and recommends taking mental health walks.

“As an employer, recognize people’s mental health,” Sparkman said. “Recognize that stress and making sure you’re doing what you can to help them.”

She also suggested going through emergency plans and make sure the policies match what’s being practiced.

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