Getting back to business: Business resources and FAQs
Check this page for the latest information on COVID-19, including frequently asked questions and downloadable resources to help guide you through reopening your business.
As your partner through these uncertain times — and always — we want to make sure you have the resources you need to support your business in reopening during the pandemic. This includes information on how to keep yourself, your staff and your patrons healthy and safe when you reopen your doors.
Bookmark this page and check back for the latest updates. Here you’ll find frequently asked questions (FAQs) and additional resources you can reference any time.
Read our Frequently Asked Questions:
Operating our businesses safely
How can I protect myself and my coworkers, family and patrons from coronavirus and help prevent the spread?
Like the flu, the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is through common-sense prevention measures:
- Practice social distancing. Don’t shake hands, avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet away from others.
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after coughing, sneezing and visiting public areas. Alcohol-based sanitizers and wipes with at least 60% alcohol are also good options for hand hygiene.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
- Avoid touching your face, especially your mouth, nose and eyes.
- Keep surfaces clean and disinfected at your home, workplace and school.
- Wear a mask when you’re in public, which helps protect others.
If you aren’t feeling well, the only time you should leave your home is to seek medical care. The best thing you can do if you’re sick — with a bad cold, the flu or COVID-19 — is staying home and self-isolating.
Since the opening of many businesses depends on employees needing daycare services, do you have recommendations for daycare facilities, such as screenings, masks, class sizes and child drop-off procedures?
Visit these helpful links regarding childcare and taking care of children:
How should we interact with staff and customers/clients when we reopen?
We recommend following CDC guidelines on masking and social distancing. This includes:
- Requiring everyone to mask before entering the facility.
- Limiting the number of people in a facility.
- Ask COVID-19 symptom screen questions of anyone who enters your facility.
- Having markers of 6 feet on the floors to maintain social distancing.
- Having directional traffic flows.
If you have infrared (no touch) thermometers available, you can add temperature checks to your screening process.
Avoid group gatherings or back-ups if creating screening stations. If you have a large number of employees, they can pre-screen themselves at home and confirm with their manager that they’re symptom-free before reporting to work.
What are the guidelines for cleaning my business?
Visit these helpful links for guidelines in cleaning your business:
- Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes
- Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2
What if I can’t get cleaning products?
When EPA-approved disinfectants aren’t available, you can use alternative disinfectants. For example, you can mix 1/3 cup of bleach (or 70% alcohol) to one gallon of water.
Don’t mix bleach or other cleaning and disinfection products together. This can cause fumes that may be very dangerous to breathe in. And remember to keep all disinfectants out of the reach of children.
Temperature-taking: What do I need to know?
Daily temperature-taking is one way to screen your employees for possible signs of illness.
We recommend sending anyone home to self-quarantine who has a fever of 100.4° F or higher. This is so they can take care of themselves and get better and reduce the risk of spreading illness to other employees or customers.
What’s the best type of thermometer for my business to use?
We recommend infrared (no touch) thermometers. However, we recognize these may be hard to get right now.
Screening prior to the start of the workday is recommended, although employees should continuously monitor their health during the day.
If an employee presents any signs and symptoms of COVID-19 during the day, they should report them immediately, as a fever (100.4° F or higher) is not the only symptom that can indicate a COVID illness.
Learn more about checking employee temperatures.
Do you expect COVID-19 measures to lower employee density and result in more employees working from home?
Telework can be an innovative way to reduce risks and maintain productivity.
If you have the option for your employees to work remotely, it could help reduce the number of employees who need to report to a facility and help maintain social distancing efforts. You can also use this opportunity to reconfigure workspaces to allow for social distancing when your employees return to work.
If employees are masked, do the areas need to be wide enough to allow for the 6 feet distancing?
While completely refiguring your business is likely a challenge, here are some other steps you can take to encourage social distancing:
- One-way traffic flow, where possible. Using directional signs/arrows will help with this.
- Stagger your workforces’ schedules to reduce the number of employees in the building at one time.
- Arrange for remote work, which can support lower volumes of employees at the physical worksite.
Are there any legal issues with requiring employees, customers and delivery vendors to undergo temperature checks?
The EEO laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Rehabilitation Act, continue to apply during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they don’t interfere with or prevent employers from following the guidelines and suggestions made by the CDC and state and local public health authorities about steps employers should take regarding COVID-19.
What are your recommendations for when someone claims they can't wear a mask due a to medical condition such as asthma?
Generally, employers should be providing training to employees when face coverings are distributed or required. Also, the training process should include identification of any medical issues that could interfere with wearing face coverings, such as claustrophobia, asthma, COPD or other conditions. Employers are advised to engage in the interactive process with such employees as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar state and local provisions.
Where can I find the current models of how many cases are in my area and when the peak will be?
Here are some helpful resources for looking at models for COVID-19 in your area:
- Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: Coronavirus
- Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH): Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Is Geisinger testing all patients who may have COVID-19?
Geisinger is following CDC guidelines for testing. If a person meets CDC criteria for symptoms and/or potential exposure, Geisinger, like many providers, can obtain specimens for testing. In fact, we’re one of a select few Pennsylvania healthcare providers whose laboratory developed its own COVID-19 test. While Geisinger has the in-house expertise to test COVID-19 specimens, testing is only available to Geisinger patients who meet the strict CDC screening criteria for COVID-19 testing.
Are you testing patients who are admitted to the hospital and who have respiratory symptoms?
Only patients who meet the CDC guidelines for testing are currently being tested.
If someone receives a negative COVID-19 test result one day, can they test positive the next day?
Of course, it’s possible to contract COVID-19 after testing. Therefore, there certainly can be cases where someone tests negative initially but then later tests positive for COVID-19.
What is the turnaround for receiving COVID-19 test results?
On average, we’re providing results within 72 hours.
Is Geisinger prepared to handle the surge as numbers continue to increase?
As of December 1, Geisinger has enough beds to manage the volume, however capacity will be a concern if we continue to see positives cases and hospitalizations increase. We need your help by doing your part with masking, handwashing, and social distancing. We remain hopeful those precautionary measures will help ease the burden on the national and regional healthcare infrastructures. In any case, we’re prepared.
Will telehealth appointments continue to be offered after COVID-19 is behind us?
We use telehealth in our Intensive Care Units (ICUs) to monitor patients who need round-the-clock monitoring.
We’re also offering telemedicine virtual care appointments for people who’d like to schedule a new appointment or are limiting travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For those who have a health concern and want to speak with a doctor immediately, we’re partnering with Virtual Care by TDH, powered by Teladoc, to offer 24/7 virtual doctor visits for $45 per visit.
Geisinger Health Plan (GHP) members who need care now can use telehealth services — including COVID-19 screenings — at no cost through October 31, 2022.
COVID-19 things to know
What are the signs and symptoms of COVID-19?
The symptoms listed below are based on what we know as of 5/11/2020. Please check with the CDC website for the most up to date information on symptoms.
COVID-19 symptoms can appear as early as 2 days and as late as 14 days after exposure. Symptoms are similar to those you’d have with a cold or flu including fever, cough and shortness of breath, and can last up to 14 days.
The following symptoms may indicate that someone has COVID-19:
- New cough, and/or
- Shortness of breath, and/or
- Fever (defined as 100.4°F)
Alternatively, someone may have COVID-19 if they have two of the following symptoms:
- Chills or repeated shaking
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
What symptoms should we look for in our children?
The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults. However, children with confirmed COVID-19 have generally presented mild or no symptoms.
It’s not known yet whether some children may be at higher risk for severe illness — for example, children with underlying medical conditions or special healthcare needs.
Do I need to get tested for COVID-19?
Geisinger is following CDC guidelines for testing. If a person meets CDC criteria for symptoms and/or potential exposure, Geisinger, like many providers, has the capability to perform testing. We have not received testing kits from the CDC and are one of a select few Pennsylvania provider organizations whose laboratory developed its own COVID-19 test.
While Geisinger has the in-house expertise to test COVID-19 specimens, testing is only available to Geisinger patients who meet CDC screening criteria for COVID-19 testing. There are strict guidelines for who should be tested, therefore only people who meet these criteria will be tested. If you believe you need to be tested, the best thing to do is speak with your healthcare provider.
How dangerous is COVID-19 to healthy people?
So far, most healthy people under age 60, including children under age 10, have avoided serious impact or complications from COVID-19.
What is the difference between the coronavirus and COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a large family of diverse, common viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from a common cold to a severe lower respiratory tract infection, like pneumonia. The novel (new) coronavirus you’ve been hearing about, which originated in Wuhan, China, results in an illness called COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that usually includes not only an upper respiratory tract infection, but also a lower respiratory tract infection, which can lead to pneumonia and breathing issues. Read more about COVID-19.
Why does washing my hands help the limit the spread of the virus?
Washing your hands vigorously for 20 seconds with soap and water is the best way to slow and stop the spread of diseases. Without regular handwashing, you can transfer germs on your hands into your body by touching your face, eating or drinking. If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer instead — rub it in until your skin feels dry.
What is the difference between social distancing and physical distancing?
While technically the same thing, our experts have begun calling “social distancing” something different: “physical distancing.” This is because of the unseen impact of social distancing and isolation on our mental health and emotional well-being.
“Social distancing” sends the wrong message, because connecting with those who are meaningful in your life is important. “Physical distancing” puts the stress on keeping a distance of at least 6 feet. You can learn more about the difference between social distancing and physical distancing here.
What is the proper type of mask to wear?
According to guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, wearing a homemade mask in public is an extra level of protection against the virus. Learn how to wear and make homemade facemasks.
Wearing a surgical or N-95 mask in public is not necessary. It’s best to save those masks for healthcare providers who are caring for our neighbors and communities.
For more information about homemade masks, click here: health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Stop-the-Spread.aspx
What is the actual risk of transmitting the virus when everyone wears a mask?
Face coverings (masks) themselves do not fully protect people from transmission. Masking, handwashing and social distancing combined are the best way to limit risk.
Read the CDC recommendations for using cloth face coverings for more information on masking.
The below list of resources are available to download and share on your social media channels or print to hang in your buildings. You can also visit our coronavirus blog for the latest in COVID-19 health and wellness.
- Infographic: How to wash your hands
- Infographic: Social distancing
- Infographic: Stay apart to stay safer
- Infographic: Supporting a stressed coworker
- Infographic: Home isolation
- Flier: COVID-19: Terms you should know
- Flier: Social distancing in the elevator
- Flier: Wearing a mask (English and Spanish)
- Flier: Keep your community safe (Amish community)
- Flier: Which mask is right for you?
- Flier: Caring for someone with COVID-19 in your home
- Flier: Cleaning and disinfecting
- Flier: Hygiene to Stay Healthy
- Flier: Why, when and where to wear a mask
- Flier: Masks and children during COVID-19
- Flier: Tips for returning to work safely
- Flier: Social distancing in the workplace
- Flier: Get the most from working from home
- Flier: Virtual meeting tips and tricks
- PA Health magazine (English)
Información en español:
- Infographic: Aislamiento en el hogar: cómo hacerlo correctamente
- Infographic: El poder del distanciamiento social
- Infographic: Cómo laverse las manos
- Flier: COVID-19: Términos que debe conocer
- Flier: Mantenerse alejados para estar más seguros
- PA Health magazine (español)
Vea las noticias de WFMZ-TV 69: Cuidar a los ancianos del coronavirus
El Dr. Guillermo Rodríguez explica por qué la edad es un factor cuando hablamos del COVID-19 y cuándo buscar atención médica, esté o no relacionada con el virus.
Call our Health and wellness team with additional questions:
We recommend these CDC and PA Department of Health resources for further information for you and your employees:
- Which face coverings are most effective?
- Recommendation Regarding the Use of Cloth Face Coverings
- How to Protect Yourself from COVID-19
- Testing for COVID-19
- Prepare your Small Business and Employees for the Effects of COVID-19
- Checklist for Teachers and Parents
- Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes
- Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting
- How to Clean and Disinfect
- Process to Reopen Pennsylvania
- PA County-level and Zip Code level data - COVID-19
- New COVID-19 cases at Geisinger. The 14-day trends
- Geisinger 21-Day COVID-19 test results by zip code
- COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard
- COVID-19 Data for Pennsylvania