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The Delta variant: How associations should respond

Ashley Neal
August 4, 2021
The Delta variant: How associations should respond

In direct contrast to the normal life much of the world was anxiously anticipating, the Delta variant, a more infectious variant of COVID-19, is starting to turn the clock back to a time of worldwide concern, rising hospitalizations and social distancing efforts. Formally known as COVID B.1.617.2, the Delta variant has forced many of us to rethink how we’re reopening — and whether we should. 

“Researchers in China reported in July that people infected with the Delta variant had about 1,000 times more viral particles in their respiratory tracts than those with the original strain,” wrote Jared S. Hopkins and Robbie Whelan, reporters for The Wall Street Journal. “The researchers also reported that people become infectious sooner.”

Not only are individual lives being impacted, the Delta variant is also affecting organizations and associations of all sizes. After starting to prepare for the return of office work and in-person conferences, being faced with this deadly and infectious virus has many organizations scrambling to figure out how to survive another period of uncertainty. 

To combat the confusion, here are 3 ways your organization should respond to the Delta variant.

Encourage vaccinations

One of the biggest things organizations can do to combat the spread of the Delta variant is to convince employees and members to get their vaccinations. Whether it is by offering a free day off, monetary compensation or the promise of a small gift, providing some form of reward is a great way to encourage others to get vaccinated, hopefully sparing the lives of many and leading us away from societal shutdown again. 

And vaccines work. “While the vaccines seem to be slightly less effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 from the Delta variant, research has shown that they remain highly effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalization,” Hopkins and Whelan reported.

While many individuals are already vaccinated, or are planning to be, the vaccine still scares some people. Your organization should share timely and accurate information pertaining to available vaccines to ensure they too consider getting vaccinated. 

Require masks or proof of vaccination at events

If your organization or association is producing a conference or going back to the office, consider requiring vaccinations or, in the case of non-vaccinated attendees and staffers, masking. 

While there is some concern that requiring masks or vaccinations is an unlawful practice, according to The Poynter Institute’s PolitiFact, “There are no legal mechanisms in place that would prevent any institution, whether it’s an employer or school, from mandating COVID-19 shots, though exemptions can be made for those with certain disabilities or sincerely held religious beliefs, as provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” (Still, we recommend you speak with your organization’s counsel before enforcing any such rule as local and regional law may also be of concern.) 

As Associations Now has reported, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society decided to require all attendees, staffers and vendors to provide proof of vaccination in order to attend their August conference. It is likely many venues and offices will follow the precedent HIMSS started and begin to require proof of vaccination as well.

Be candid about exposure

Nothing is scarier than finding out you have potentially been exposed to COVID-19, especially if you find out after potentially exposing friends and family. The quickest and easiest way to control the spread of panic or distrust in your organization is by being completely transparent and candid about contact tracing and exposure at your events, office or employee meetings. 

If your organization takes all three of these steps, it will be easier to ensure safe and effective communication, interaction and organizational stability. And with collective effort, we’ll soon be on the road to recovery once again. 

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Ashley Neal

Ashley joined the Sidecar team as Community Coordinator in 2020 and spends her working hours focused on providing value to our members. In her free time, Ashley enjoys DIY crafts and playing with her puppy, Scooby.

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