Feb. 28, 2020
Editor’s note: Donna Morris, Executive Vice President, Chief People Officer – Walmart, and Dr. Tom Van Gilder, Chief Medical Officer – Walmart, sent the following note to Walmart U.S. associates.
Coronavirus Information and Precautions
To: Walmart associates
From: Donna Morris, Executive Vice President, Chief People Officer – Walmart and Dr. Tom Van Gilder, Chief Medical Officer – Walmart
You’ve surely noticed the increase in media coverage surrounding the global spread of the coronavirus. We want to assure you that we continue to monitor the situation, and our focus remains on the health and welfare of our associates, our customers and our partners around the world.
We’ve set up an Emergency Operations Center task force, and we’re in close communication with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as other health organizations to help us respond properly. We’ll address the needs of each store, club and support center in each of our markets, and adjust business operations and travel as needed. Your safety is our priority.
You’ve heard the term “coronavirus” used a lot recently. Coronaviruses are a type of virus. There are many of them and they are fairly common. COVID-19 is the name given to the disease caused by the new coronavirus that appeared recently in China. Because COVID-19 is new, you might be hearing information that is confusing or conflicting.
Here’s what we know: The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu with fever, coughing and shortness of breath. It appears to mainly be spread through close person-to-person contact. It may be possible for someone to touch a surface or object with the virus on it and then touch their nose or mouth and become infected, but this is not the main way the virus spreads, according to CDC and other health experts.
In addition to all the normal things you do to stay healthy, the preventive measures are the same as for the flu or other viruses, according to CDC:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
There has been a lot of information in the news about face masks, and it is important to understand face masks are not recommended by CDC for general use. The best uses for face masks as identified by CDC are for those who are sick to avoid spreading to others and by health workers and caregivers who are taking care of someone in a close setting.
We’ll continue to share information as it becomes available and do our best to keep you informed about what we are doing as a company and how best to prevent the spread of the virus. If you have travel planned and have questions, please reach out to your manager.
We want you to know how much we appreciate your flexibility and commitment – especially in China, where associates have done exceptional work serving our customers during a challenging time.
Thank you, we’re here for you, and we’ll get through this together – just as we always do.