It’s been just over a month since the first case of the Omicron variant was detected in the US, and recent reports show that we’ve already set a record with 2 million new coronavirus cases – many of them caused by this variant – in one week.  If you haven’t thought about your response to this latest development in the pandemic, now is the time.

Thankfully most of us got through the holiday season before things got out of control, but 2022 is off to a rough start. We’re seeing a return to virtual school here in Madison, WI (at least for a few days), as well as a few shops cancelling or postponing special events, closing temporarily, or returning to only offering curbside pickup and delivery. 

One of the main reasons for this is that stores that were already short-staffed are having employees call in sick – or letting their employers know that someone in their household has tested positive.  Fortunately the CDC requirements for quarantine have recently been revised, so people with COVID-19 are only required to isolate for 5 days if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving. 

It’s important that you communicate to your employees what your policies are regarding a positive diagnosis, because chances are good that this will occur.  We have basically sent out a version of the CDC’s guidelines as our policy – and have asked staff members to stay home if they aren’t feeling well. If someone tests positive, we’ll notify anyone who has worked with that person so that they can get tested if they want.

We’ll continue to require masks at work, and have a supply of KF94 masks for our staff if they want to use them.  We’ve left our plexiglass shields up, and fortunately our local mask mandate for customers has been extended into February.  That makes it much easier to get compliance with our store’s mask policy. Everyone on our staff is required to be vaccinated – and boosted if eligible – and we do what we can to encourage vaccination in our community.

There is a great deal of anxiety that comes with this latest pandemic development, and you are undoubtedly wishing it would just go away. Happily the curve of this exceptionally contagious variant is predicted to have a fairly rapid decline, which will be a welcome development. In the meantime, be kind to yourself and your staff. We can get through this together.

Happy retailing, 

Carol “Orange” Schroeder