Congressman Tom Cole

After local and national economies were effectively forced to close in response to coronavirus this spring, communities across the nation are continuing to slowly and cautiously reopen. While it is encouraging to see businesses opening back up and Americans returning to work, it’s important to keep in mind that life as we know it is not yet back to normal. Until there are effective treatments, therapeutics and ultimately a vaccine to control COVID-19, we must continue to take precautions, including adapting our workplace operations.

Though the battle against COVID-19 is not yet over, it is not sustainable to keep businesses closed and workers at home. While employers may feel pressure to ramp up production or operations at full speed ahead to make up for lost time, it is critical that workers are shielded from potential health hazards. Indeed, returning to more regular functions and operations requires thoughtful preparation, gradual action and continual evaluation. 

Fortunately, since the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the United States back in January, we have learned a lot about the sorts of practical steps we can all take to slow the spread of the disease in our communities. Whether at work or interacting with others elsewhere, all Americans should continue to practice hygienic precautions like thoroughly and frequently washing your hands, not touching your face, daily disinfecting surfaces, staying home when you’re sick, keeping a safe social distance from others and wearing a face covering or mask, especially when social distancing isn’t possible.  

To help create safe and healthy workplace environments amid this ongoing pandemic, I am encouraged that the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued guidance and recommendations specifically for employers and their workers. This includes steps to prevent infection and guidance to help employers rapidly respond in the event of a workplace outbreak of COVID-19. OSHA’s extensive resources for both employers and workers can be found at osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19.

As we continue to navigate the days ahead and await discovery of a vaccine, the President’s Coronavirus Task Force continues to provide progress updates at coronavirus.gov. And for health and prevention updates provided locally by the Oklahoma State Department of Health, visit coronavirus.health.ok.gov.

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