As of today, there are a total of 2.18 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States according to CDC.gov. At Laminate Works, we employee 70 employees; including office and manufacturing staff, as well as a remote sales team and truck drivers. As the Novel Coronavirus first appeared in the United States, Laminate Works started to prepare for this as a serious health care issue and immediately began implementing safety processes to prevent the spread of this disease from affecting our employees and customers.
Homeland Security deemed forest and wood products industries as essential during the shutdown, especially in the Health Care segment. Fortunately, that meant we could keep our commitment to serving our customers now more than ever. But, to keep our doors open we knew we needed to keep our employees safe while trying to maintain business operations.
As the virus quickly escalated, we built a solid plan to eliminate as much risk as possible to our team. This plan included split shifts, restructuring our break areas to allow for social distancing, requiring individual face masks to be worn by every employee, sending all employees home that had the ability to work remote, banning work and personal travel, as well as implementing a detailed call in procedure and return to work policy for employees that were experiencing possible symptoms.
Little did we know, COVID-19 would become more of a people issue than a health issue. Employees were experiencing high levels of anxiety and stress as the number of infected people in our local areas grew higher. Our team members were experiencing a new normal both inside our manufacturing plant and in their homes. Several employees had children out of school and taking online classes. While others had spouses working from home simultaneously with them. Some families even experienced the burden of locating childcare so they could physically be in the workplace as essential workers. Employee morale was a huge focus for us here at LW as we adjusted to this extreme change.
Through the guidance of Laminate Works President, Human Resources and Executive Team worked to establish routines for employees and more than ever we pulled together as a team. Communication became the core of staying productive and efficient during this time. Meetings were held to discuss changes and answer questions giving us an opportunity to remind employees that they were not alone and the work they we were doing was essential now. We even got creative and brought onsite employees together outdoors and used portable speakers and a microphone to deliver information while socially distancing.
As stay at home orders have been lifted in our area, our preparedness plan has continued to evolve. Office staff have returned to the building, employees are back to working on one shift, and our PTO policy has been amended to allow employees to take vacation after completing a specific return to work questionnaire. Employees are encouraged to exercise extreme social distancing on the plant floor and in the office, and face masks are required in the building. Challenges will continue to appear as we navigate the changes that COVID-19 has created.
Laminate Works and its employees has learned the importance of who we are and what we do. We have learned that we can be flexible during times of crisis and still get the job done. We have learned that the old way of doing things is not always the best way of doing things. Most importantly we have learned that our guiding principles are not just words on banners hanging in our plant but instead they are what have kept have us moving forward during a time of uncertainty.