News and Events

COVID-19: Daily Security Blogs

Oscar Villanueva
March 27, 2020

 

3/27/2020

Workplace Violence at Healthcare Facilities During the COVID-19 Crisis

 

The COVID-19 crisis has created unparalleled challenges for all, but particularly for healthcare facilities. Workplace violence in the form of intimidation, threats, abuse, insults and even physical aggression against medical personal is one of the most prevalent and persistent challenges.

Long before COVID-19, health care facilities have experienced a high degree of workplace abuse, so much so that California has implemented legislation to protect medical workers in the form of the Cal/OSHA Workplace Violence Prevention Act in Health Care (learn more about this legislation here). Many states are joining California in drawing up similar legislation that is expected to be introduced nationally in one form or another at some point in time.

During the current COVID-19 crisis there are reports of medical staff in the UK being told not to wear their uniforms outside their facilities to prevent attacks from people thinking they are spreading the virus (see that news article here). Similar reports have appeared in the US with nurses and other medical staff suffering verbal and physical abuse from patients and their families.

As emotions tend to run high in healthcare settings where a COVID-19 diagnosis can lead to an untimely death for some, healthcare workers need to protect themselves. If you are a healthcare professional, consider following the tips below to prevent or handle a situation of violence at work:

 

  • Whenever possible, avoid working alone with patients who have exhibited a propensity for violence
  • Practice situational awareness and consider how you can quickly exit an area where an incident of violence or abuse has or could occur
  • Ensure you maintain constant communication with coworkers and supervisors and ask for assistance if necessary
  • Ask if your facility has a workplace violence prevention program and become familiar with related policies and procedures and what is being done to protect you
  • If an incident occurs move to a safe place and contact facility security and law enforcement for assistance
  • Identify “panic” devices in your area or consider carrying one with you, and learn how to use it

 

Avoid being a victim by being aware and prepared.

 

Ensure the physical and psychological safety of your organization. Talk to us.

 

For security resources, behavioral health solutions and real-time front lines information, visit us at www.r3c.com, email us at info@r3c.com or call us at 866-927-0184.

 

For more information from our Subject Matter Expert’s regarding COVID-19, check out some of our other daily blogs:

Daily Behavioral Health Blog: https://r3c.com/news-and-events/covid-19-daily-behavioral-health-blogs/

General COVID-19 Updates: https://r3c.com/news-and-events/coronavirus-daily-update/

 

 

 

3/26/2020

Domestic Violence During the COVID-19 Crisis

 

Crisis can bring the best and worst in people. In the case of the current COVID-19 crisis there are many stories of strangers helping strangers and people taking care of one another. Unfortunately there are also reports of domestic violence increasing as people self-quarantine and in many cases face the prospect of financial hardship.

 

Families remaining together in self-isolation for an extended period sets the stage for arguments and family fights often fueled by anxiety and uncertainty. Under normal circumstances there are resources that can help with these issues but during this outbreak, those resources can be severely limited or non-existent. Similarly, victims may not be able to deescalate by leaving the situation and walking away.

 

Signs of abuse may include:

 

  • Bullying or threatening behavior
  • Isolation from family and friend
  • Lack of access to money
  • Physical abuse

 

Some things you can do if you are a victim of domestic violence:

 

  • If you find yourself in imminent danger of physical harm call 911
  • Develop an escape plan
  • Stay connected to family and friends
  • Save some money and put it away incase you need it in an emergency
  • Have options in case you must leave. A family member or friend’s home, a hotel, shelter, etc.
  • Research domestic violence hotlines and other resources that can help
  • Think of how you will keep yourself and your family safe before an incident occurs.

 

Here is a list of resources you can contact for assistance:

 

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-7233; https://www.thehotline.org/help/
  • National Child Abuse Hotline/Childhelp – 1-800-422-4453
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline – 1-800-656-4673
  • National Resource Center on Domestic Violence – 1-800-537-2238; https://vawnet.org/

 

Ensure the physical and psychological safety of your organization. Talk to us.

 

For security resources and real-time front lines information, visit us at www.r3c.com, email us at info@r3c.com or call us at 866-927-0184.

For more information from our Subject Matter Expert’s regarding COVID-19, check out some of our other daily blogs:

Daily Behavioral Health Blog: https://r3c.com/news-and-events/covid-19-daily-behavioral-health-blogs/

General COVID-19 Updates: https://r3c.com/news-and-events/coronavirus-daily-update/

 

 

3/25/2020

Beware of Impostors Offering Free COVID-19 Tests Door to Door and Other Fraud Scams

 

As if dealing with the COVID-19 fraud scams during the crisis was not enough, there are reports from Florida of suspicious individuals in white coats going door to door offering free tests. These individuals are claiming they are from the CDC or state health department.

 

Similarly, following the news of a COVID-19 stimulus package from the federal government, unsuspecting victims around the country are receiving unsolicited fake emails, texts and phone calls from individuals purporting to be from the government. These fraudulent communications are mostly asking for individuals to click on an email or release personal information in order to gain access to a stimulus check.

 

Beware of these fraudulant scams and protect yourself from becoming a victim. What we now so far is that:

 

  • There is not yet a cure for COVID-19
  • No government officials, from a lab or otherwise, have been sent door to door to offer a free test
  • The COVID-19 stimulus package is close to becoming a reality but has not yet been approved. And more importantly no checks have been mailed.
  • Be sure to look at legitimate news outlets for the latest information

 

These fraud scams will continue as the crisis goes on and anxiety and stress take a toll on people. Be skeptical of anything that sounds too good to be true and avoid becoming a victim.

 

Ensure the physical and psychological safety of your organization. Talk to us.

For security resources and real-time front lines information, visit us at www.r3c.com, email us at info@r3c.com or call us at 866-927-0184.

 

For more information from our Subject Matter Expert’s regarding COVID-19, check out some of our other daily blogs:

Daily Behavioral Health Blog: https://r3c.com/news-and-events/covid-19-daily-behavioral-health-blogs/

General COVID-19 Updates: https://r3c.com/news-and-events/coronavirus-daily-update/

 

 

3/24/2020

Take Time to Review Your Residential Security

 

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep a significant number of people in self-isolation. One way to make excellent use of this time is to review your home security status. This doesn’t have to be a drawn-out process but a simple review to ensure basic common-sense security practices are in place to help protect you and your family.

 

A review of security at your home will require observations inside and outside the property. Here is a list of important items to review (not all inclusive):

 

  • Review all doors/entrances, including service doors and gates. They all should have quality locks – preferably a deadbolt.
  • Do not leave keys “hidden” outside the home. If you need to leave a key behind when you’re absent consider leaving it with a trusted neighbor.
  • Keep doors locked even when you or family members are at home.
  • Have window locks installed on all windows and be sure to use them.
  • Have locks installed on your fuse boxes and external power sources.
  • If you have burglar or intrusion alarms, check to ensure they work and use them.
  • Keep at least one fire extinguisher on each floor and be sure to keep one in the kitchen. Show family members how to use them.
  • Periodically check smoke detectors and replace batteries when necessary.
  • Keep flashlights in several areas in the house. Check the batteries often, especially if you have children in your home.
  • A family dog can be a deterrent to criminals. But remember, even the best watchdog can be controlled by food or poison.
  • Do not install separate “doggy doors” or entrances. They can also admit small intruders.
  • Know your neighbors. Develop a rapport with them and offer to keep an eye on each other’s
  • If you observe any unusual activity, report it immediately to the police.
  • Educate family members in the proper way to answer the telephone at home.

Following up to ensure you have the above items in place can contribute significantly towards the safety and security of your family.

 

Ensure the physical and psychological safety of your organization. Talk to us.

For security resources and real-time front lines information, visit us at www.r3c.com, email us at info@r3c.com or call us at 866-927-0184.

 

 

For more information from our Subject Matter Expert’s regarding COVID-19, check out some of our other daily blogs:

Daily Behavioral Health Blog: https://r3c.com/news-and-events/covid-19-daily-behavioral-health-blogs/

General COVID-19 Updates: https://r3c.com/news-and-events/coronavirus-daily-update/

 

 

3/23/2020

COVID-19 Has Resulted in Hate Messages and Death Threats

One of the unfortunate consequences of the Covid-19 crisis includes hate messages and death threats against those believed to be infected. Some of the main victims have been travelers from recent cruises.

 

News reports (links below) cover the ordeal of Mark and Jerri Jorgenson from Utah who were onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship and tested positive for the corona virus. They have received hate messages and death threats from anonymous individuals accusing them of spreading the disease. Jerri has now tested negative for COVID-19 and is cleared by medical authorities. Mark is still under observations with no symptoms and is expected to be back home soon. Many others like Mark and Jerri report receiving similar threats. And unfortunately many others will as the crisis continues.

 

Threats of bodily harm, destruction of property or loss of financial assets can be received in person, via mail or online via email or social media. Regardless of the method of delivery, threats are against the law and anyone receiving one should contact their local law enforcement agency to report it. Each state has laws against threats and harassment, as does the federal government.

 

Become familiar with your local law enforcement resources and be prepared to report any COVID-19 related criminal activity as necessary.

 

https://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2020/03/04/cdr-im-laying-low-st-george-resident-diagnosed-with-coronavirus-on-cruise-ship-returning-home-to-threats/#.XnkL_IhKiUk

https://www.ktvu.com/news/some-people-receiving-death-threats-due-to-coronavirus-fears

 

 

3/20/2020

Securing empty and unattended facilities during the COVID-19 crisis

 

As more and more companies telecommute, others are having to do reductions in force (RIFs) or lay off people, leaving office space and other business-related facilities unattended and empty, and an easy target for vandalism and criminal activity. This is especially true for small businesses that shut down completely.

 

Companies planning to leave buildings empty and unattended should incorporate security measures in their preparations.

  • Double check to make sure the property is locked, and alarms are activated
  • If there is no alarm consider installing and using one
  • If budget allows, consider assigning a guard to protect the property
  • Make sure all systems not in use are turned off
  • Parking areas should be blocked off to prevent access
  • Keep the front of your facility clean and ensure it is maintained regularly (landscaping, cleaning, etc.)
  • Ensure lighting is in good shape and functioning on timers or light sensors
  • Visit the facility on a weekly basis to ensure all remains as you left it
  • Contact the local police department and see if they can include your property in their patrols. Even if they don’t, police awareness helps if an incident occurs
  • Don’t forget to have your telecommuting employee take their laptops and other necessary equipment with them

 

Following these simple steps can help maintain empty and unattended facilities secure and ready for employees to return following the crisis.

 

 

3/19/2020

Cyber fraud is occurring under the pretext of COVID-19 with phishing, fraudulent offers of assistance and questionable products sales

 

Wherever there is crisis there is opportunity…for criminals. There are now many reports of criminal elements using concerns about the COVID-19 epidemic to commit fraud. These are opportunists preying on a concern population seeking answers to a devastating situation as we all go through the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

 

Scams of various types are underway targeting individuals and companies. Some of the most common include:

  • Phishing emails – this scam is a fraudulent attempt via email to obtain your personal information like credit card and bank accounts and identifiers. The emails are designed to look real as if sent from a legitimate business. There is usually a request to click on a link or attachment on the email. Once the unwitting victim clicks the scammer has a way to access personal information.
  • Invoice fraud – this type of scam is perpetrated on unsuspecting businesses. The scam involves sending an invoice for some product or service from a source that seem legitimate and closely resembles a supplier already used by the company. The unwitting business often pays the invoice thinking it is legitimate.
  • Malware – this scam is also delivered email via phishing attempts and can install spyware, viruses or other unwanted software in your computer. Once installed, these programs can be used to track your key strokes and monitor your activity on the device.
  • Fake health products – unfortunately there are several retailers and telemarketers taking advantage of this crisis to peddle their fake coronavirus products. Two of the most prominent individuals hawking fake coronavirus products are Alex Jones from InfoWars (https://time.com/5802437/alex-jones-stop-hawking-phony-coronavirus-treatments-ny-attorney-general/) and Jim Bakker from The Jim Bakker Show (https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/nation-world/article240955226.html).

 

The advice below can help you remains safe from scams:

  • Don’t trust every email you receive as legitimate and don’t open emails from unknown sources.
  • Verify request or documents received via email through a phone call or other non-electronic way prior to taking any action
  • Don’t automatically click on email attachments prior to verifying authenticity
  • Install and update security software
  • Heed warnings from your browser regarding suspicious sites
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the CDC or from expert claiming to have information about COVID-19 or Coronavirus
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations. No cure or vaccine currently exist for COVID-19
  • Be aware of request for donation or crowdfunding connected to this crisis. Not all will be legitimate. Investigate further before giving your support

 

Check out the following links for further reading on this subject:

Federal trade commission – https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/coronavirus-scams-what-ftc-doing

Center for Disease Control – https://www.cdc.gov/

The World Health Organization – https://www.who.int/

 

 

3/18/2020

Can I Be Forced to Quarantine? – Government Quarantine Enforcement Powers

 

As COVID-19 pandemic continues the number of people in self-quarantine or quarantined in medical and government facilities is increasing. While most people comply with quarantine orders there are some who resist, potentially endangering loved ones and others they come in contact with.

 

One example of quarantine resistance is an ongoing situation in Nelson County Kentucky where a 53-year-old man is being actively monitored by sheriff deputies to ensure enforcement of his quarantine and to make sure the man remains at home. The man tested positive for COVID-19 and was told to self-quarantine but refused to do so. You can read about this case at this link (https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/17/us/kentucky-refused-quarantine-coronavirus-trnd/index.html).

 

It’s important to know that governments at federal, state and local levels have the authority to enforce quarantines. The federal government, for example, draws its authority from the Public Health Service Act, which under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S. Code § 264), outlines the authority for enforcement of “isolation and quarantine” as follows:

 

Apprehension and examination of persons reasonably believed to be infected

  • Regulations prescribed under this section may provide for the apprehension and examination of any individual reasonably believed to be infected with a communicable disease in a qualifying stage and (A) to be moving or about to move from a State to another State; or (B) to be a probable source of infection to individuals who, while infected with such disease in a qualifying stage, will be moving from a State to another State. Such regulations may provide that if upon examination any such individual is found to be infected, he may be detained for such time and in such manner as may be reasonably necessary. For purposes of this subsection, the term “State” includes, in addition to the several States, only the District of Columbia.
  • For purposes of this subsection, the term “qualifying stage”, with respect to a communicable disease, means that such disease—
  • (A) is in a communicable stage; or
  • (B) is in a precommunicable stage, if the disease would be likely to cause a public health emergency if transmitted to other individuals.

 

The states also have similar legislation enacted at their level regarding quarantine laws, and overall penalties vary from state to state but usually include fines or jail time.

 

I encourage everyone to heed the requests to self-quarantine to help effectively deal with this very disruptive crisis.

To read more about this topic please go to the CDC webpage at this link https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/aboutlawsregulationsquarantineisolation.html.

 

 

3/17/2020

COVID-19 related RIFs are occurring nationwide and will continue to occur – and security at these events is often necessary and best security practice

 

As the COVID-19 pandemic crisis continues unabated and the impact goes beyond human suffering companies nationwide of all sizes are feeling the effects of social distancing and the significant slowdown in economic activity. And the resulting financial hardship will force many companies to do layoffs also known as reductions in force or RIFs.

 

These are difficult events for everyone under the best of circumstances but especially difficult now under the current pandemic crisis. Affected employees losing their jobs face poor prospects of getting new employment are almost no existent during the crisis. As a result there is a strong possibility of increased numbers of workplace violence incidents as some employees react angrily to being let go and potentially become belligerent or violent during the RIF notification and subsequent process.

 

When planning a RIF consider following the strategy below to minimize the risk of violence:

  • Develop a plan and have it vetted by all relevant stakeholder involved in the action prior to implementation
  • Include security consideration in the RIF plan
  • Develop and implement a timely communication plan
  • Increase security discreetly during the lead up to the RIF and on the actual day of execution
  • Be prepared to address workplace violence issues as they come up
  • Provide workplace violence training to managers and supervisor, including how to identify triggers and warning of workplace violence

 

Plainclothes armed protective agents are common during these events to ensure any security issue can be addressed and to escort employees out if necessary. Protective agents are less noticeable than uniformed guards and more effective. And their presence is less noticeable thus less confrontational. Thy should be an integral part of any RIF activity.

 

Ultimately the goal should be to remain safe and secure through these difficult job actions, and being prepared is the best way to mitigate issues.

 

 

3/16/2020

COVID-19 Pandemic’s Effect on Emergency Services and First Responders

As the COVID-19 pandemic crisis continues to affect almost every facet of life globally, it’s important to reflect on how the crisis can also interfere with life-saving emergency services. First responders including police, firemen, paramedics and other professionals that routinely provide critical support for our daily lives and are often taken for granted will also be affected by the COVID-19 epidemic.

 

First responders are particularly vulnerable to contracting the virus in their daily work and many are already in self-quarantine as a result of exposure.  Examples of first responders in self-quarantine include:

  • In New York, NYPD and FDNY have several members in quarantine
  • In the Seattle, WA area, over two dozen first responders have been quarantined
  • Several Los Angeles and Orange County first responders are under quarantine
  • Firefighters from the Miami-Dade County are in quarantine after exposure

 

This is likely to become a much larger issue as this crisis continues to evolve and grow. And the consequences can be significant as a result of less police, firemen, and paramedics.

 

In response, police departments are shifting personnel from desk jobs and school resource officer positions to patrols and response duty. The same is likely from fire departments.

 

It is important for everyone to be aware of this issue and be prepared in case there is a crisis in first responder response. Possible issues are likely to include delays in police and fire department response, and no response to minor accidents and criminal (misdemeanor) activity. If this occurs, there will be a need for family members and friends to drive sick individuals to hospitals, and during minor accidents drivers will have to collect and share information with each other.