Our country is certainly facing numerous challenges right now as we all work together to do anything and everything needed to keep our employees, friends and family safe as our nation confronts this coronavirus pandemic. Scary stuff for sure.
For weeks, it has been like watching a hurricane off the coast. Knowing that this viral virus was heading our way but continuing to hope that preventative measures would kick in quickly enough to keep the brunt of the illness at bay. Here in Arlington, Virginia, home to NTCA’s headquarter operations, we watch as our local schools closed today for the next month and the number of Arlington cases doubled overnight.
That has led to some quick moves by our national board and leadership team to cancel a significant upcoming meeting for next week and moving to a remote working environment thanks to that capability brought about by broadband access – the same type of access our member companies provide to their communities. Maybe we are all realizing how essential that connectivity really is now that our access will literally be mission critical. I continue to really feel for those under served communities where children are now supposed to do online education, workers are trying to connect and remote healthcare could be a more robust option. (Although NTCA’s GHP has a Teladoc program that I am grateful we were able to get in place last year- what a powerful tool for rural American’s seeking immediate healthcare options!)
Thankfully, we have a standing Business Continuity Team in place in Virginia and North Carolina, so springing them into action a month ago gave us a head start on figuring out what remote work really looked like for us not only as a large national trade association but also as a critical benefits provider. Using guidance from local, state and national health authorities, we instituted our work-from-home policy for staff here in our Arlington operation beginning on Monday and have discontinued non – essential staff travel. Certainly better to be safe than sorry and we take our social distancing obligations seriously even as Arlington itself morphs into a little bit of a ghost town. The upside is that traffic is way easier to navigate with folks off the road.
However, even as we adjust some of our workplace policies to allow our staff to respond to the health and well-being of themselves and their families, we are committed to continuing to provide excellent member service and will certainly stay on top of member needs, requests and advocacy. That has included being on a call with Chairman Pai yesterday afternoon as he looks to work with the industry to ensure that carriers are supporting the connectivity needs of their customers while recognizing that some folks will be suffering from some economic hardship with the halt of much of American commerce and activity. That is not even a concern in our communities given that NTCA members always stand up to support their neighbors/consumers during challenging times. Sustaining critical connectivity in rural communities is at their core.
And now much of what we need to do are things our mother taught us when we were young…
- Wash your hands
- Don’t play with your face
- For goodness sake, stay away from your nose!
- Stay in bed if you don’t feel well
- Stop breathing on your brother!
- Cover your cough (but really into the crook of your elbow…who knew, but it makes sense?!)
- Don’t spit in public (my mom actually never needed to tell me that one…)
- Eat some good Jewish penicillin…chicken soup (ok, that is just one of my go-to wellness moves)
- Make sure you always have toilet paper in the house (ok -just kidding but I couldn’t help it with the paper products flying off the shelves here!)
- And wash your hands again for good measure