For much of 2021, the gradual rollout of safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines has helped mitigate the spread of the virus in North Carolina while powering an economic relaunch for job creators, workers, and our entire state. Unfortunately, with fall approaching, the emergence of the Delta variant as the dominant viral strain in our communities and an uptick in COVID-related indicators are fueling a new wave of uncertainty for employers, public officials, health care providers, educators, and families across our state.
A Revamped Toolkit for a New Moment in the Pandemic
At the Chamber, we understand the COVID complexities facing businesses like yours. After all, we’re navigating many of the same complexities ourselves. On behalf of our entire organization, I want to reiterate a promise we first made to our members last spring – a promise to serve our state’s businesses throughout this pandemic as a convener of key resources, a facilitator of employer-driven dialogues, and a strong voice representing your interests at the policy table.
One way we’re reemphasizing this commitment is by revamping our popular COVID-19 Resource Guide. This week, our team updated this webpage to ensure the most timely and relevant resources – like the latest guidelines for incorporating vaccines and testing protocols in workplace safety plans – can be easily found and accessed directly from the main page.
Our hope is that these changes will make this guide simpler to navigate and even more useful for job creators like you. I hope you’ll let our team know what you think and if you have any additional ideas to make this guide as useful as possible.
Data Drives Informed Decisions
Equipping businesses with data-driven knowledge has been a lynchpin of the Chamber’s COVID strategy since the start of the pandemic. The collective body of data demonstrates that – even considering the rise of the Delta variant – vaccines and robust testing protocols continue to provide employers with the safest, most effective tools to protect our people while helping to sustain North Carolina’s positive momentum. Of course, employers must be trusted to use these resources to design and implement operational plans and COVID-mitigation strategies that work for the specific requirements of their business and their people.
As we engage with Chamber members like you to discuss the strategies now being implemented in your workplaces, some common themes are emerging. Many members are actively encouraging their employees to get the vaccine, with some organizing vaccine drives and similar initiatives to promote the safety and efficacy of vaccines across their talent force. Other companies are asking employees to speak with their doctors and make decisions based on the personalized guidance they receive. Still others are emphasizing a vigorous testing strategy to protect their people and keep their businesses operating.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer for promoting vaccines or establishing testing protocols. Many employers have legal or practical concerns about requiring vaccines. Others may need to take extra care to message about the importance of vaccines in ways that resonate with individuals who have deep-rooted concerns about the vaccination process. The right answers will depend on the precise considerations of each industry, each business, and each individual.
Empowering Business to Keep Powering NC’s Success
Since the start of the pandemic, our state’s business community has provided a steady engine driving our recovery. Last spring, as the virus spread through our communities, we saw job creators shift their operations virtually overnight to begin producing masks, hand sanitizer, and other forms of PPE. Others adjusted their strategies so they could continue supplying our state with the essentials – like food, medicine, and health care – on which we all depend. And businesses managed this all while incorporating the latest health guidance into their operations.
At a time defined by doubt and indecision, job creators have shown the people of this state what responsible corporate citizenship is all about. It’s about putting people first when times get tough, prioritizing their physical, mental, and fiscal well-being. At the same time, it’s about a parallel responsibility to the larger whole, to the health and cohesiveness of our institutions, our infrastructure, our economy, and our communities.
Put another way, responsible corporate citizenship is all about protecting lives AND livelihoods. Throughout this pandemic, businesses have shown we can model these values as well as anyone.
At the NC Chamber, we believe job creators can and should be trusted to make informed decisions to keep your people safe and keep our state moving forward. As we navigate the next phase of this pandemic together, know that our Chamber team remains committed to fighting for your ability to do exactly that.
Gary J. Salamido
President and CEO