Source: David Curtis, NWCUA; NCUA
As of February 4, 2020, the CDC reported 28 countries have reported confirmed 2019-nCOV (Coronavirus) cases. The worldwide spread of the coronavirus has raised pandemic fears, which credit unions should take as a good time to review their pandemic planning as part of their business continuity plan.
The coronavirus was declared as a public health emergency of international concern by both the CDC and World Health Organization. Reports as of February 7, 2020 that indicate the virus has killed over 630 people and infected over 31,000 people are scary. In perspective, the 2019-2020 flu has infected over 15 million people in the United States, hospitalized over 140,000 people worldwide, and killed over 8,200.
Which leads us back to steps credit unions should be taking to ensure their pandemic preparedness planning can be activated and all them to respond in an effective manner to the incident. The NCUA has issued guidance on several occasions related to pandemic preparedness and planning, including Letters to Credit Unions 10-CU-10, 09-CU-13, 08-CU-01,and 01-CU-21.
The NCUA highlights that the credit union’s plan should include a:
- preventative program to reduce the likelihood the operations will be significantly affected by a pandemic event;
- documented strategy which provides for scaling pandemic efforts;
- comprehensive framework of facilities, systems, or procedures to continue critical operations if large number of staff are unavailable for prolonged periods;
- testing program to ensure the pandemic planning practices and capabilities are effective; and
- oversight program to ensure ongoing review and updates are made to the pandemic plan.
Credit unions should review and revise their continuity plans in a timely manner to properly address the management of a pandemic event.
Keep in mind that CU PolicyPro Model Policy 2195: Pandemic Influenza Preparedness & Response provides a general policy that your credit union can tailor to meet your needs. The policy covers:
- Role of the Board
- Role of the Management Team
- Planning for impact to credit union operations
- Planning for impact to employees and members
- Allocation of resources to protect employees and members during an outbreak
- Educating employees
Additionally, the Business Continuity topic within the Security channel of InfoSight provides links to various pandemic resources that the credit union can utilize for their plans.
Other considerations when it comes to any sickness outbreak.
- Communicate and educate employees.
- Emphasize good workplace hygiene and social distance from those with obvious symptoms.
- Reinforce sick leave policies, and even option to work remotely if applicable.