Epic Campuses 4 and 5

A metal wizard stands in the center of the King’s Cross campus courtyard.

Epic is expanding sick leave, and encouraging employees to either cancel non-essential business travel or work from home, as COVID-19 cases rise in the United States.

The company also canceled its Experts Group Meeting at the end of April, which was expected to bring 9,000 employees to the Verona region.

Spokesperson Barb Hernandez told the Press in an email the moves are being done in the interest of the health of Epic employees, customers and the Verona and greater Madison communities.

“Preventing community spread is an important part of limiting the virus, so it’s fortunate that our staff primarily work in separate offices,” she said. “We’re taking additional steps to limit large gatherings.”

In the email, Hernandez wrote any internal large meetings will be held virtually, divided into smaller groups of people, postponed or canceled. An upcoming spring conference, XGM, is still scheduled, but the company will evaluate as the COVID-19 situation evolves, Hernandez added.

In the campus’ cafeterias, food will be served in to-go containers to prevent long lines, and staff are encouraged to bring food from home, Hernandez wrote.

The first cases of COVID-19 were seen in China in late 2019, and the disease has since spread internationally, affecting 127,000 people and killing 4,200. The coronavirus family that causes the disease is also responsible for the common cold and respiratory syndromes such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

COVID-19 was deemed a worldwide pandemic on Wednesday by the World Health Organization. The last time WHO declared a pandemic, which is defined as a worldwide spread of a new disease, was H1N1 influenza in 2009.

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at kimberly.wethal@wcinet.com and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.