BOISE, Idaho — Here in Idaho, there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19, but officials are asking everyone to take extra precautions and do their part to prevent the spread.
Taking those extra precautions might impact what's in your wallet, but not in the way you'd expect. While the virus can spread from person to person, it can also be spread through contact with commonly touched surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, and steering wheels. Another one of those common places is the cash inside your wallet.
Tellers at Zions Bank handle dozens of cash transactions and interact with dozens of people every day, which is why the bank is taking extra steps to make sure their employees and their customers aren't put at risk. Like most businesses, they're encouraging employees to stay home if they're sick--both to protect their customers and each other--but they're also taking extra precautions to make sure the workplace is as clean as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"Tellers handling money is the number one thing," said Toni Nielsen, the Western Idaho Region President of the bank. "Informing and educating our tellers about the kinds of things they can do--disinfectant gloves, wipes--so that when they are handling money they're protecting themselves."
The bank says there are ways to avoid using cash at all, and are working to educate local businesses and consumers about remote systems like direct deposit or online payments.
"There's just so many systems out there that would prevent them from really even needing to deal with money in a lot of cases," said Nielsen. "We're just trying to educate customers about that so they know what their options are."
Even if you don't cut down on using cash, there are still ways to keep yourself safe.
"It's just using extra, really good precautions for hygiene, so after doing a transaction using hand sanitizer," said Nielsen.
Another local bank, Idaho Central Credit Union, agrees.
"As always, we recommend washing your hands or using hand sanitizer when handling money. Online banking and visa and debit cards are a way to transact without handling money," said Laura Smith, with ICCU.
It's important to remember the risk in Idaho is low, and there are no confirmed cases.
Idaho public health officials are monitoring the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation very closely.
Officials are working with CDC and other states and are also in regular communication with Idaho public health districts and healthcare providers around the state.
The CDC says everyone should take precautions to avoid all respiratory diseases, including staying home if you’re sick, avoiding sick people, and covering your coughs and sneezes with the crook of your elbow or a tissue.
Other local banks are also doing their part to stop the spread.
Idaho Central Credit Union say they're encouraging their employees to stay home if they are sick.
"We encourage our team members to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer regularly during flu season and to stay home if they are ill," said Smith.
Cap Ed said in a statement their staff and customers' well being is their priority.
The full statement:
CapEd’s priority concerning the Coronavirus is the health and wellbeing of our staff and members. Although the risk of exposure to the virus is currently low in our area, we recognized staff handle cash and other monetary instruments regularly. We ask staff to exercise good hygiene to prevent the spread of this, and any other illness, by following the recommendations of the CDC, which include:
- Regularly and thoroughly washing their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds,
- Using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available,
- Not touching their eyes, nose, or mouth,
- Cleaning work surfaces regularly with disinfecting wipes,
- Covering their mouth and nose with their bent elbow or a tissue when they cough or sneeze,
- Practicing social distancing when they are near anyone who is coughing or sneezing, and
- Staying at home if they feel unwell and seeking medical care early if they exhibit symptoms of Coronavirus.
We are closely monitoring the situation. We will continue to draw upon our established continuity plan and work with area healthcare and civic leaders as appropriate.