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Sunday, March 8, 2020

Coinbase planning and response to COVID-2019

We’ve made our latest coronavirus planning materials available below and will be updating it regularly to give our customers, other global businesses, and the broader crypto community as much information as we can to help with decision-making.

Notes:

  • We will update this blog with additional communications and context as the situation progresses.
  • We’re sharing these externally in case helpful to other companies. If you have helpful/constructive comments, feel free to send our way on Twitter, @coinbase.
  • Shoutout to our incredible security and comms teams for proactively addressing this. If you’re interested in working at Coinbase check out our careers page. This is one small example of the work product of these teams.

Mar 2, 2020 Communication to Coinbase Employees

Hey all,

Tl;dr:

  • While the overall risk of COVID-19 to Coinbase employees remains low, it is increasing and we strongly encourage you to prepare for the next phase of this crisis, which will likely involve both community transmission and state/local government actions, such as school closures or movement restrictions.
  • Employees that are likely to get sick more easily or for whom getting sick would be particularly problematic should now work with their manager to move to 100% Work From Home (WFH). See our guide [pasted below] to effectively reducing your risk of bringing COVID-19 home (spoiler alert: working from home is only a part of the solution!).
  • Business travel is now restricted to essential travel only. Travel to China, Hong Kong, Japan, Italy, and South Korea remains completely restricted.
  • We strongly encourage you to minimize personal travel. If you are going somewhere, please flag any personal travel to — or layovers in — countries on the restricted list to GSOC so we can help you make a plan.
  • Stop by #ask-security with questions and for weekly updates.

There has been a lot of news on coronavirus out in the last week. It can be a stressful mental place to be. (If you’re up for reading more about it, this twitter thread is a great summary of how to cope and WHO also has a nice PDF on coping with stress in the face of an outbreak). Your health and safety are a core priority of Coinbase. This update includes a number of additional proactive measures we’re taking to ensure that you can all manage your risk and that Coinbase can continue to serve our customers effectively.

A core intent of these notes to you all is to continue to share how Coinbase is responding to this moment and what you can do. We want to remain on the cutting edge of responding to COVID-19, while ensuring that our response is based on fact and science, and avoids both panic and apathy. By transparently sharing this with you all, we hope we can be a trusted source of information in an otherwise crowded information environment. Any time you have questions, you can reach us at @GSOC or #ask-security.

Finally, please remember to be sensitive to others as we all continue to talk about COVID-19. Just because you are in a low risk group doesn’t mean all your coworkers are, or that they aren’t living with someone who is. Please also remember that COVID-19 doesn’t care about your skin color, what your nationality is, or where you live. The best way for all of us to get through this crisis is to listen to the science and operate as a community, not allow fear to drive make-believe wedges between us.

Coinbase has 3 guiding principles as we continue to move forward:

  1. Keep Coinbase employees safe
  2. Continue to serve Coinbase customers with highest standards
  3. Do our part to slow community spread of the virus where there appear to be outbreaks, so that the most vulnerable people are able to get the care they need

The current situation

We are continuing to see the global spread of COVID-19. In fact, we are starting to see the first documented instances of community transmission in the areas of our Portland and SF offices. We’ve seen a handful of cases in Chicago and just saw the first case in New York. We continue to see community transmission in Japan. We’ve not seen community spread yet in Dublin or London, and have seen public health officials in both areas take rapid and effective testing and containment measures. Elsewhere around the world, the outbreak continues to accelerate, except in China where they seem to have successfully slowed the spread.

The US is not testing as broadly as we should be at this point, so the full scope of the outbreak is likely not yet documented sufficiently. Much more extensive testing capacity is coming online in the coming week and we are likely to see the case count in the US jump significantly once that happens.

The best time to prepare was last week. The second best time is right now.
This weekend saw a huge uptick in individuals stockpiling goods to hedge against a broader quarantine and enable effective social distancing. As a reminder, we encourage people to ensure they have adequate supplies of food, medicine (in particular, prescription medication) and critical household goods (think batteries, trash bags, hygiene supplies, etc.) to last at least 30 days. Review our guide below to learn more.

What we know

See my previous message for a summary of what we know, and our FAQs for specific questions. The studies that have come out in the last week have re-confirmed things we already know about the virus.

What we’re doing

As of this week, if you are likely to get sick more easily, or if getting sick would be particularly problematic, we want you to work with your manager to WFH. If a local school closure impacts your family, you should also work with your manager to WFH.

Examples of this could include people who are already immunocompromised or live with people who are, people who are single parents or primary caregivers, people who are pregnant or live with those who are. It can also include people/teams who are critical single points of failure in the company, whose absence for a couple of weeks could impact our customers. PLEASE NOTE, if you move to working from home but don’t otherwise adjust your life, you will not be effectively reducing your risk. Please read our guide to social distancing below and make sure you are adjusting your life to protect yourself and your family.

As of this week, we’re restricting all business travel to essential trips only. If you think a trip is absolutely essential, please work with your leadership team member to validate that assumption prior to scheduling. Previously announced travel bans remain in effect.

Please consider using video conferencing instead of travel. If you’re planning personal travel to — or layovers in — any country on the restricted list, please reach out to @GSOC so we can work with you. You can find instructions for flagging travel for us here.

We’re moving toward virtual interviewing, asking you all to minimize external visitors (including canceling in-office events) and spinning up a visitor screening program, which will include a set of questions when visitors sign in and will expand to include temperature screening in SF.

Recruiting is working to move all interviews to virtual interviews, starting with SF, Tokyo and Portland. We’ve started the migration but likely won’t be all the way there for a week. If you use an in person tool (e.g. whiteboards) you think will be hard to replace, please ping Recruiting directly. For all offices, please minimize the number of external visitors you bring into our space. Until further notice, we will not be hosting external events in Coinbase space. If you can do a meeting via video conference, please do so. Our guest check in system will now ask visitors about their travel history. We will additionally roll out an airport-style thermal imaging screener in SF, because of the higher concentration of employees, contractors and guests. If we flag a visitor via the envoy or temperature screening program, we will let their host know, deny entry to Coinbase space, and ask the host to reschedule the meeting via video conference. If we flag an employee via the temperature screening we will ask them to work from home.

We have spun up a working group to proactively prepare for moving one or more offices to full work from home postures.

This working group is identifying specific risks and mitigations that we need to get in place to ensure Coinbase continues to function smoothly, for example, how we would manage recruiting operations, onboard new hires, etc.

We’ll continue sharing bi-weekly updates on the coronavirus situation in #ask-security, so please join that channel to ask any questions you might have beyond the below FAQs. If you have questions that are specifically about work travel, please post those in #ask-travel.

Mar 2, 2020 Social Distancing Guide

Whether you’re working from home because you are — or live with someone who is — part of a population more vulnerable to COVID-19, because you are a business-critical single point of failure for Coinbase, or because we have decided to temporarily close your office due to spread of the virus in the surrounding area, our Security team has compiled some information to help you and your family stay healthy during any COVID-19-related Work From Home (WFH) period.

Working from home allows you to avoid crowded areas, such as public transportation and city streets. But there’s more you can do to prevent community spread of COVID-19 and keep yourself safe in the event of an outbreak in your community. Following the advice outlined below, you can further reduce the chances of you and your loved ones contracting and transmitting COVID-19. The general principle you want to follow is to reduce how often and how long you are in contact with people outside your household.

Please note: Not all of the below guidance may be practical for you or your family (e.g., if another family member needs to continue working outside of the home, you are bringing a child to and from daycare, etc.). We are offering this guidance so that you can make informed, risk-adjusted lifestyle choices for you and your family. Sharing this information is part of our multi-phased approach to protecting you and Coinbase from this virus.

If you have any questions, please reach out to the Security team via #ask-security on Slack. Additional information about protecting you and your family from COVID-19 is also available at ready.gov, the CDC and WHO websites. We would particularly discourage you from consuming news from Twitter, Facebook, or similar social platforms, especially if you end up in a quarantine lockdown. While those platforms can provide cutting edge news, they can and do also circulate rumors and misinformation. Take a look at this WHO guide and this Twitter thread (yes, I understand the irony there).

Getting ready

  • Stock up on essentials. Ready.gov has a good list to use as the starting point for building a disaster supply kit. This basic kit is designed to help you self-sustain for 3 days post-disaster (hurricanes, earthquakes, etc) without utilities until the government and aid workers can get help to you. Unlike natural disasters, outbreaks tend to have a longer-lasting impact due to recommended or mandatory “social distancing” (read: self-quarantine), but a lower impact as utilities tend to stay available. This can last for 30 days or more. As such, we encourage you to plan to self-sustain for at least 30 days, however you can assume you’ll have power/gas/water during that time. If you build this kit, you will not only be preparing for its potential need because of COVID-19, but future emergencies as well.
  • Food. Buy dry or canned food for at least 30 days. Frozen goods are also a great choice, but most households lack freezer space for 30 days of food.
  • Medicine. Work with your primary care physician to get at least 30 days of any critical medicines, more if possible.
  • Household goods. Buy at least 30 days worth of whatever consumables your house goes through (toilet paper, paper towels, hygiene items, etc)
  • Fuel. Make sure your car(s) have a full tank of gas.
  • Do any critical house maintenance now. Anything that might impact the livability of your house over the next 90 days (roof leak, broken pipe, etc). Anything non-critical, defer until later.
  • Get a flu shot, and other medical or dental care now. This year’s flu has been in 2 waves, so the flu shot is still a good idea. You really don’t want Influenza AND COVID-19 at the same time. If you’ve been putting off that trip to get a cavity filled, or get some other health concern addressed, stop putting it off and go now or know you may have to wait 90+ days.

During a Crisis

Replenishing supplies

  • Always ask people bringing you things to leave them outside your door. Wait until they have moved away before opening your door to get your items.
  • Talk with friends and family members who don’t live with you about supporting each other if a household has to be quarantined. For example, agree to drop off groceries or food at the front door.
  • You should use delivery services if they are available rather than visit a store.
  • If delivery service workers are still conducting deliveries, you can request your delivery be left by your door to limit your contact with individuals outside of your home.
  • UV-C light can be an effective hands off sterilization measure, just make sure you expose surfaces for sufficient time.

Physical health

  • In lieu of going to the gym, try doing some body weight exercises at home to stay fit and healthy during this time.
  • Practice good hygiene to include bathing regularly, washing laundry, cleaning dishes and your home, etc. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose. Throw tissues away after single use.

Mental health

  • Have in-home entertainment plans.
  • Keep in touch with family members and friends via phone, email, or social media.
  • Schedule 1:1s or group chats with other members of your team to stay in touch. Check out https://www.netflixparty.com/ for a way to schedule a remote movie night with friends!
  • While at home, be sure each household member is getting ample time to themselves as well. Having quiet time to oneself is an important part of being well.

Children

  • If school is not canceled, kids are the most likely way for COVID-19 (and really any other virus) to enter your home. Enforce strict hand washing protocols on your kids when they come home. If your child is sick, isolate them as much as possible. If you have young children AND a person from an at-risk population in your house, quarantine the vulnerable person.
  • Talk to them about what is happening and why your family is taking extra precautions.
  • Remove the fear that a lack of information can often create. By educating them as to ‘why’ you are doing certain things, you are empowering them to be actively involved in the process and thus in control of the situation.
  • Make it fun! Cancelling all the playdates and normal weekend activities you might do will be tough on them and you. Take this opportunity to find new fun activities to do in the home. Fort building, writing stories and then illustrating them, and playing hide and seek are all excellent choices.
  • Ask your child’s school to provide assignments, worksheets, homework, etc. via email, if possible. You can also keep in contact with your child’s school or teacher via phone in order to provide necessary information, obtain schoolwork, and stay up to date on school activities. This will help your child be prepared for their return to the classroom and keep them on track with their work!
  • Arrange video and phone calls with your children’s friends so they can stay in touch.

Pets

  • Be sure to also stock up on at least 30 days worth of food and medications for the pets in your home.

Minimizing exposure to people

  • Don’t use public transit, at all.
  • Avoid crowds when possible and stay at least 6 feet away from any person exhibiting signs of illness.
  • Avoid small rooms with others.
  • Avoid any non-essential public gatherings, including concerts, the movies, shopping, sports, etc.

Religious services

  • Consider not attending any religious services during this time. Speak with your community leaders ahead of time and learn if any remote video or audio options are available. Make plans to have any necessary items on hand that you may need to continue practicing your faith from home (items for communion, religious texts, etc). Establish a direct line of communication with your congregation’s leadership so that you may contact them remotely should you need to.

Deliveries and mail

  • Don’t buy/order non-essential items.
  • Do not open the door to receive packages when possible. Politely ask the delivery driver to leave the item on the porch or outside of your door.
  • Open packages wearing gloves and dispose of packaging promptly. Wash your hand with soap and water after opening and disposing of packages and mail.
  • Pay your bills electronically to limit any unnecessary trips to the mailbox.

Home maintenance

  • Postpone any non-critical home improvement projects.
  • For urgent matters (water leaks requiring a plumber), speak with the service provider ahead of time and advise them that you will be requiring them to wear a hospital style N95 mask while they perform the service in your home.

Caring for a sick family member

  • Keep any ill individual’s items separate from others. Try to designate an area specifically for them, and keep anyone who has not contracted an illness out. When cleaning laundry items, wash them in hot water.
  • Use disinfectants to clean areas and items touched by an ill individual. Wipe down or spray disinfectant on items everyone uses frequently in the household (toilets, door handles, countertops, appliances, remotes, etc).
  • Throw away disposable masks and gloves after one use. Reusable masks can be washed in hot water and tumble-dried.
  • If an ill individual is wearing a mask, ensure it is well-fitted and a good seal has been achieved. The mask should be sealed over the bridge of the nose and mouth, and there should be no gaps between the face and the mask.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after taking off gloves or a face mask and before touching anything else.
  • Wear a face mask and wrap-around glasses if you must help a family member with a nebulizer or inhaler.
  • If your home has more than one bathroom, designate one of the bathrooms for use of the ill individual. Leave disinfectant products in the bathroom for items to be wiped down or sprayed.
  • Make sure ill individuals get plenty of rest, drink plenty of water, and maintain a healthy diet.
  • Seek medical attention if an ill individual displays shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (generally defined as an adult taking more than 30 breaths a minute while resting).

Feb 24, 2020 Communication to Coinbase Employees

Hey all,

Tl;dr:

  • We continue to believe the risk of COVID-2019 coronavirus to most employees is low, with a slightly elevated risk to our team in Japan.
  • Even so, we’re now suggesting that individuals should start doing some simple contingency planning.
  • Business travel to China and Hong Kong is still restricted. Additionally, we have added Japan, Italy, and South Korea to the business travel restricted list.
  • Please flag any personal travel to — or layovers in — countries on the restricted list to GSOC so we can help you make a plan (instructions here).
  • Stop by #ask-security with questions and for weekly updates.

It’s been three weeks since our last email update, so I wanted to provide an update both around what is known about COVID-19 and what Coinbase is doing.

We still do not see community transmission in or around Coinbase offices, with the exception of our Japan office. For Japan specifically, we’ve put our tier 1 response plan into place (see below for more) and, among other things, are encouraging everyone in that office to work from home.

However, given the continued spread of COVID-19, we feel that it is reasonable for individuals in locations not yet impacted by the virus to begin some personal contingency planning and preparation. In the event of a local transmission hotspot, the key to safety will be “social distancing,” aka making sure we give the virus limited means to spread person-to-person. You may also see moves from local governments to put travel restrictions in place. Your preparations should focus on what will enable you to minimize your contact with and dependency on others. In particular, we encourage people to ensure they have adequate supplies of food, medicine (in particular, prescription medication) and critical household goods (think batteries, trash bags, hygiene supplies, etc.) to last at least 30 days.

What we know

We’re continuing to monitor the situation closely and gather data from primary sources where possible (including the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local public health offices and retained consultants).

COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus. It is primarily transmitted by aerosolized droplets (e.g. the droplets you release when you cough or sneeze. These droplets can travel over 6 feet if you don’t cover your mouth and nose effectively!), much like the flu or a cold. It may also be transmitted via fecal matter (even very small/invisible amounts). The virus can survive for some amount of time outside the human body, although the specific parameters are not yet known, so transmission can occur by touching a surface contaminated with the virus and then touching your eyes/nose/mouth.

Unlike most other coronaviruses, the period of maximum contagiousness appears to occur early in the virus’ life cycle, somewhere between 1 and 3 days after the first sign of symptoms. Some number of individuals that contract coronavirus remain asymptomatic, but can still spread the virus (although we don’t know how common this is). The virus’ incubation period appears to be somewhere in the 5–7 day time period on average, but has a fairly wide range (summary of research), and likely depends to a large extent on where the virus lands in a given host (e.g. did the virus get transmitted via someone rubbing their eyes and has to work it’s way to the respiratory tract, or did it land in the lungs directly and can get right to work). According to a study by the CDC in about 80% of cases, symptoms are mild and look a lot like the flu or other viral respiratory illness and may include coughing, fever, body aches, etc. This category of cases generally self-resolve with little to no medical intervention. About 14% of cases develop severe symptoms (including pneumonia or shortness of breath). This category of cases will require medical care, but probably not intensive care. About 6% develop critical symptoms (shock, respiratory failure, etc). This category of cases will require care in an ICU or similar.

The Case Fatality Rate (CFR, the percent of cases that result in death) is impossible to determine reliably at this point. The WHO quotes a 2% rate, but caveats it extensively. The latest published paper (summary) addressing the topic breaks the CFR down by age group and quotes between a 0.2% and 0.4% CFR for ages 0–40 and significant jumps for groups older than that. The most at risk populations appear to be the very old and those with already weak immune systems. The paper above also addresses comorbid conditions, with the highest CFR being those with Cardiovascular disease at just over 10%, and the lowest being those with no pre-existing conditions at 0.9% (across all age groups).

What we’re doing

We’re continuing to restrict business travel to China and Hong Kong. As of this week, we’re adding Japan, Italy, and South Korea to the business restricted list, as well as mandatory WFH measures to employees returning to Coinbase offices from Japan, South Korea and Italy for a period of 7 days. If you’re planning personal travel to — or layovers in — any country on the restricted list, please reach out to @GSOC so we can work with you. You can find instructions for flagging travel for us here.

We have a standing Crisis Management Team continually reviewing new information as it comes in. We have established a four tier escalation ladder (from tier 0 to tier 3) for response to changes that impact Coinbase offices. The primary criterion for moving up the ladder is the number of community transmission events within a commute radius of a Coinbase office. All Coinbase offices except Japan are at tier 0. Tier 0 includes improved sanitation measures (both in terms of office cleaning and in terms of making things like hand sanitizer available) as well as continuous risk monitoring via a crisis management team. At tier 1, which is currently active for the Japan office, we encourage as much work from home as possible, limit in-office meetings, visits and services and make or review concrete plans to move critical workflows to offices that are not impacted. At tier 2 we close the office to non-essential personnel/activities/events and execute those workload movement plans. At tier 3 we lock down the office entirely, and go to 100% mandatory wfh.

We’ll continue sharing weekly updates on the coronavirus situation in #ask-security, so please join that channel to ask any questions you might have beyond the below FAQs. If you have questions that are specifically about work travel, please post those in #ask-travel.

Employee FAQs:

What IS a coronavirus?

“Coronaviruses” are nothing new. This specific strain started being called “2019-nCoV” and is now designated “COVID-19”. “MERS” and “SARS” were also Coronaviruses with similar spread and impact, but the common cold is also a coronavirus.

COVID-19 is primarily transmitted by aerosolized droplets (e.g. the droplets you release when you cough or sneeze. These droplets can travel over 6 feet if you don’t cover your mouth and nose effectively!), much like the flu or a cold. It may also be transmitted via fecal matter (even very small/invisible amounts). The virus can survive for some amount of time outside the human body, although the specific parameters are not yet known, so transmission can occur by touching a surface contaminated with the virus and then touching your eyes/nose/mouth.
Unlike most other coronaviruses, the period of maximum contagiousness appears to occur early in the virus’ life cycle, somewhere between 1 and 3 days after the first sign of symptoms. Some number of individuals that contract coronavirus remain asymptomatic, but can still spread the virus (although we don’t know how common this is). The virus’ incubation period appears to be somewhere in the 5–7 day time period on average, but has a fairly wide range (summary of research), and likely depends to a large extent on where the virus lands in a given host (e.g. did the virus get transmitted via someone rubbing their eyes and has to work it’s way to the respiratory tract, or did it land in the lungs directly and can get right to work). According to a study by the CDC in about 80% of cases, symptoms are mild and look a lot like the flu or other viral respiratory illness and may include coughing, fever, body aches, etc. This category of cases generally self-resolve with little to no medical intervention. About 13% of cases develop severe symptoms (including pneumonia or shortness of breath). This category of cases will require medical care, but probably not intensive care. About 5% develop critical symptoms (shock, respiratory failure, etc). This category of cases will require care in an ICU or similar.

Where are we banning business travel?

We’re currently restricting travel to China, Hong Kong, Japan, Italy, and South Korea.

Why isn’t Singapore on the banned business travel list?

Singapore has done a really good job of tracking where their cases have come from, and as a result we’re not seeing a lot of transmission “in the wild” there, so we don’t believe that there is currently a reason to ban business travel there.

Have any employees been traveling in impacted regions?

Several employees have recently traveled to impacted regions, and we are working actively with them to plan for their re-entry to the company in a way that maximizes safety for all other Coinbase employees.

Have any Coinbase employees been infected with coronavirus?

No.

What kind of precautions should I be taking?

Beyond travel restrictions, the best preventative measures to take are the same as with the common cold or the flu:

  • Washing your hands frequently (after traveling on public transportation, before and after eating…)
  • Coughing/sneezing into your elbow, not your hand
  • Arranging with your manager to WFH or take sick time as appropriate, if you have symptoms

See more: CDC Prevention Guidelines

(References from the CDC, ISOS, and WHO.)

Other companies seem to be doing more than we are. How are we sure this is the right approach for us?

We’ve been benchmarking (and working directly with) myriad other companies across several industries. In each case we observed that the risk exposure to these companies varies greatly based on operations in the most heavily impacted regions (e.g., Disney has actual operations in China). This is to say that those teams are assessing the risk likelihood and impact in the same manner we are. Companies with sustained, numerous operations or travellers in China are at a much greater risk than Coinbase. Still, their approach is often in line with ours and we are confident we are enacting the right strategies at this time to protect Coinbase employees. We will continually be reassessing the situation and adjusting our strategy accordingly.

Do we stock masks in each office? Should I wear one?

We have sufficient N95 masks stocked in the San Francisco and New York offices, and more will arrive in our other offices in the next few days. That said, we are not suggesting that anyone needs to wear masks, either inside or outside of the office. Evidence suggests that since the general public isn’t trained on how to properly wear or dispose of masks, the benefit of wearing one is low, and the CDC doesn’t recommend it. We want you to make the best informed decisions possible, so it’s up to you whether or not you choose to use a mask.

Do we stock hand sanitizer in each office?

Yes. Each office stocks sanitizer at reception, and depending on the office, in other areas as well. In addition, the Workplace Experience team has installed hand sanitizer stations in San Francisco, with other offices soon to follow.

What would need to happen for us to change our current approach? What happens if this gets a lot worse?

We have a standing Crisis Management Team continually reviewing new information as it comes in. We have established a four tier escalation ladder (from tier 0 to tier 3) for response to changes that impact Coinbase offices. The primary criterion for moving up the ladder is the number of community transmission events within a commute radius of a Coinbase office. All Coinbase offices except Japan are at tier 0. Tier 0 includes improved sanitation measures (both in terms of office cleaning and in terms of making things like hand sanitizer available) as well as continuous risk monitoring via a crisis management team. At tier 1, which is currently active for the Japan office, we encourage as much work from home as possible, limit in-office meetings, visits and services and make or review concrete plans to move critical workflows to offices that are not impacted. At tier 2 we close the office to non-essential personnel/activities/events and execute those workload movement plans. At tier 3 we lock down the office entirely, and go to 100% mandatory wfh.

As the shape of this health crisis expands, how are we thinking about precautions for each affected country and each Coinbase office?

See above for our escalation ladder, but in general, we’re evaluating quarantine protocols on a by-location basis, focusing not just on headlines, but on the underlying data. We are also factoring in our specific risk factors at Coinbase, including company operations and employee travel. We use all of these inputs to make informed risk assessments for each of our office locations, and we will continually be reassessing the situation and adjusting our strategy accordingly. If you’re wondering about a specific country and associated risk level, feel free to reach out to us in #ask-security.

What sort of office cleaning standards and frequency do we have in our offices?

All Coinbase have cleaning crews that ensure our offices meet a standard of cleanliness. Deep cleaning in all offices are done either on a nightly or weekly basis depending on the size of the office.

In San Francisco specifically, our ABM and Flagship teams thoroughly clean and sanitize common areas throughout the day. Their focus during the day is to keep common areas clean and tidy as the areas are used. Common areas are defined as conference rooms, pantries, restrooms, print stations, high traffic walk-ways, reception, and cafe, among others.

At night our cleaning staff do a deep clean of all common areas and any other surfaces that are considered shared spaces. Our ABM and Flagship teams are also responsible for keeping janitorial areas clean and sanitized to prevent the spread of any germs.

What about the people being treated at Bay Area hospitals? Is this a risk?

There are people being treated for coronavirus at Bay Area hospitals (including UCSF and a hospital in the area of Travis Air Force base, where returnees from Wuhan are currently quarantined). Hospitals and their employees have been preparing to manage the treatment of coronavirus for weeks now, and we don’t believe the treatment of cases in the area is impacting risk for our employees.

If the risk is still low in my area, why are you suggesting I start accumulating supplies?

Being over-prepared is better than being under-prepared, and preparing before you absolutely need to allows you to avoid competition with all the late preppers. The earlier you get it done the easier it is, and the less stress you’ll feel. Additionally, the supplies we’re suggesting you stock up on are supplies you should have on hand anyway in order to effectively weather any regional disaster.

What supplies should I start putting together?

Ready.gov has a good list to use as the starting point for building a disaster supply kit. This basic kit is designed to help you self-sustain for 3 days post-disaster (hurricanes, earthquakes, etc) until the government and aid workers can get help to you. Unlike natural disasters, outbreaks tend to have a longer-lasting impact due to recommended or mandatory “social distancing” (read: self-quarantine). This can last for 30 days or more. As such, we encourage you to plan to self-sustain for at least 30 days. If you build this kit, you will not only be preparing for its potential need because of COVID-19, but future emergencies as well.

What other lifestyle changes should I be making to keep myself and my family safe?

It depends. Essentially, you should decide on the appropriate risk posture for you and your family based on your personal situation. For example, mortality rates for COVID-19 are highly correlated with age — the older you are, the more dangerous it is. They also increase for people with compromised immune systems (respiratory disease, cancer, etc.). So if you live with someone in their 80s, you might want to take a more conservative stance, like limiting personal travel, or not going on a cruise.

If we’re having employees returning from Japan, South Korea, and Italy work from home for seven days, should we also limit contact with people we know personally who are returning from those countries?

Again, that depends on your personal risk posture. If you’ve got people in your life who are in at-risk populations, you might choose to do this, as well as limiting your own travel.

If I need to flag a layover in one of the restricted countries, does that mean I need to change my flights?

Not necessarily. Please reach out to GSOC and we’ll assess current screening measures at the airport that you’re flying through. Some airports are doing an exceptional job screening travelers, but we want to know where you’re at in the world so we can help you make the right risk-adjusted plan.

Are we banning these countries for PTO as well?

Not currently, but we do need you to flag any personal travel to these countries (process here). Also please be aware that we will ask you to work from home for seven days after traveling to any of these countries for personal reasons.

Response Levels Framework

General context

The most important overall context to have here is that we’re planning for a really negative outcome. We don’t expect to see anything like this in reality. Our expectation is that the measured mortality rate (once low-severity cases are included in the overall count) will fall significantly and that we’ll see limited transmission in the west, where there will be fewer high density multi-generational housing situations.

We may also see orgs with very low risk tolerance (e.g. daycares, elder care, etc) take protective measures well in advance of the general population. That may cause pressure on employees who depend on those services, especially daycare.

Triggers and Actions

Phase 1 Triggers

More than 100 instances of in-the-wild person-to-person virus transmission between people who are not close relatives/living in the same house and outside of a hospital setting, occurring within the commuting radius of a given Coinbase office. Measured mortality rate remains 1% or above (10x the seasonal flu). Observed transmission rate remains above 1.5.

Phase 1 Actions

  • We may ask certain populations of employees to WFH in the impacted area (e.g. if there is a hotspot of transmission)
  • We will offer optional WFH for all employees in the impacted area (especially important for those with potentially vulnerable populations at home, the very young, very old or those with otherwise compromised immune systems).
  • We will enhance office cleaning schedules to be more frequent/in-depth, especially around areas of high traffic (elevators, meeting rooms, bathrooms, food areas) along with specific mask disposal bins.
  • We will limit office visitors to essential personnel only (and work with recruiting to e.g. move interviews to video calls where possible)
  • We will ask all leaders to start making plans for continuity of operations/identification and movement of critical workloads/personnel to other offices or to WFH.

Phase 2 Triggers (aka local containment is failing)

More than 1000 events as above or any government quarantine actions in the commute range of a Coinbase office. Measured mortality rate remains 1% or above (10x the seasonal flu). Observed transmission rate remains above 1.5.

Phase 2 Actions

  • We’ll work with individual business owners to execute their critical workload movement plans to whatever office seems least impacted.
  • stop meal service in impacted office(s). Potentially moot, as we expect most employees will be voluntarily wfh at this point.
  • stop all visitors to the office(s) OR institute a visitor health screening program (e.g. airport style infrared camera in the office lobby + basic screening questions). Again, may be moot.

Phase 3 Triggers (aka containment has failed, it’s going to be a wild ride)

More than 5000 infections with an increasingly upward trend (Doubling interval is 10 days or less). Measured mortality rate remains 1% or above (10x the seasonal flu). Observed transmission rate remains above 1.5.

Phase 3 Actions

  • mandatory WFH in the impacted area(s)
  • All workload movement plans executed, including potential relocation of essential personnel outside the danger area.
  • at this level, I’d expect our ability to use 3rd party services like cleaning, snacks, etc to start to break down because of fear driven absenteeism.
  • I’d also expect to see regional isolation in the impacted area

Coinbase planning and response to COVID-2019 was originally published in The Coinbase Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



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