How companies in the U.S. should prepare for the coronavirus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week called on Americans to start preparing for a potential coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., raising questions about what measures employers large and small may need to deploy to protect their workers while staying open for business.

Americans should expect quarantines and ready themselves for a “new normal” over the next several weeks, CBS News contributor Dr. David Agus told CBSN Thursday, warning that “our way of life will change.”

The CDC on its website outlines steps employers can take to help curb the spread of the virus. Yet some of these recommendations — like restricting employee travel — conflict with the demands of conducting business both domestically and abroad. Others are at odds with the often-cutthroat corporate culture in the U.S. The federal agency’s top recommendation to companies? Work from home.

“Actively encourage sick employees to stay home,” the CDC advised. Dr. Agus echoed that point of view and also took it one step further, saying companies should be planning for their whole staffs to work remotely.

“There are going to be areas of quarantine in the U.S., and workflow is going to be dramatically changed. So the great companies of the world will start policies for employees to work from home,” he told CBS MoneyWatch.

“You then have to think about how they will work from home, and questions like, ‘How do you deal with supply chains? Do you arrange for equipment for employees working from home?’ This is a wake up call for companies,” he added.

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