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How Two Compliance Officers Tackled Risks Arising From the Coronavirus Pandemic

To tackle health-care needs during the coronavirus pandemic, companies have had to strike a balance between haste and prudence—an act that often requires the attention of compliance teams grappling with amplified risks and fewer resources.

“There’s a volume and a speed at which we’ve needed to respond to ensure that we [are] meeting the same standards and the same requirements that we would always, understanding the risk profile probably changes somewhat, knowing that you’re addressing a global health crisis,” Ashley Watson, Johnson & Johnson’s chief compliance officer, said Thursday at the WSJ Risk & Compliance Forum.

The New Brunswick, N.J., health-products company has been working with governments and other companies to try to find solutions to address the pandemic, such as developing a Covid-19 vaccine.

The effort has required the company to take on new suppliers and partners quickly while still conducting the necessary due diligence to ensure that they meet the company’s compliance expectations. “Just your ability to connect with them is tougher in a virtual environment,” Ms. Watson said.

More than half of the compliance professionals that responded to a recent Wall Street Journal survey said they experienced increases in new third-party risks as a result of Covid-19. Many of the respondents also said their relationships with third-parties have become harder during the pandemic.

Companies outside the health-care sector have had the added burden of learning the expectations of new regulators and hastily vetting unfamiliar suppliers to make pandemic-related products outside their typical processes.

Ashley Watson, Johnson & Johnson’s chief compliance officer.



Photo:

Johnson & Johnson

VF Corp.

, the Denver-based maker of Dickies work clothes and Vans sneakers, shifted production to make millions of medical gowns and hundreds of thousands of face masks. The effort required a new grasp of rules governing the manufacturing of protective equipment, understanding of how those rules change by jurisdiction, and investigating whether potential new suppliers will follow them, according to Kellye Gordon, the company’s vice president of ethics and compliance and legal operations.

Potential suppliers, perhaps out of a need to win a lucrative contract or maybe even survive, might be willing to skimp on compliance, increasing third-party risks, she said. “And so in terms of our ability to vet those suppliers, that actually became even more important with regards to quality assurance,” Ms. Gordon said during a Forum panel.

There are also supply chain, export and even antitrust considerations Ms. Gordon’s team has had to manage when collaborating with certain partners on new production lines. “You’ve got to think about sharing competitive information and making sure that you are removing all the risks related to pricing and confidentiality,” she said. The company has sought to mitigate those risks through additional training.

Kellye Gordon, vice president of ethics and compliance and legal operations at VF Corp.



Photo:

VF Corp.

Companies have also had to manage risks not just with selling pandemic-focused products,

Over 50 Salt Lake City officers under quarantine ahead of vice presidential debate

The city has seen a rise in new cases over the last month.

Salt Lake City’s latest rise in novel coronavirus cases has affected dozens of the city’s police officers, with at least 9% under quarantine ahead of Wednesday night’s vice presidential debate.

As of Tuesday evening, 17 officers tested positive for COVID-19, and 52 were in quarantine, Detective Michael Ruff told ABC News. On Monday, the department said 15 officers tested positive and 25 others were under quarantine.

A 2019 report by the Salt Lake City police department said the force had 542 uniformed officers, and Ruff could not say how much that number has changed over the year.

Ruff the department’s duties during the debate at the University of Utah shouldn’t be hindered because other agencies, including the university police, state police and federal authorities will be assisting.

“There are a lot of people who are working on this,” he said.

PHOTO: Salt Lake City police officers wear face masks to protect against the spread of the new coronavirus as they patrol in Salt Lake City, Utah, April 21, 2020.

Salt Lake City police officers wear face masks to protect against the spread of the new coronavirus as they patrol in Salt Lake City, Utah, April 21, 2020.

Salt Lake City police officers wear face masks to protect against the spread of the new coronavirus as they patrol in Salt Lake City, Utah, April 21, 2020.

As for the city’s day-to day police matters, Ruff said that the department has been shifting schedules and personnel to fill the gaps. The spokesman added that some of those quarantined officers were still working but only taking cases by phone for which in-person police work may not be required.

“You may have an incident where someone calls about fraud and doesn’t have a suspect ID. They’d be taking the call,” Ruff added.

The coronavirus situation that’s ensnared police is part of a larger trend of rising COVID-19 cases in Salt Lake City, according to data from the county’s Health Department. As of Tuesday evening, there were 34,087 total cases and 16 total deaths, with 136 people hospitalized due to the virus and 254 hospitalized since the pandemic began.

PHOTO: A car pulls into one of the first drive through testing facilities for Coronavirus (COVID-19) virus in a parking lot outside the University of Utah's Sugar House Health Clinic in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 16,  2020.

A car pulls into one of the first drive through testing facilities for Coronavirus (COVID-19) virus in a parking lot outside the University of Utah’s Sugar House Health Clinic in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 16, 2020.

A car pulls into one of the first drive through testing facilities for Coronavirus (COVID-19) virus in a parking lot outside the University of Utah’s Sugar House Health Clinic in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 16, 2020.

Since Sept. 8, 8,904 people contracted the virus, more than a quarter of the city’s total cases, according to health department data. The seven-day average of new daily cases went from 142 on Sept. 8 to 424 on Oct. 4.

Nicholas Rupp, a spokesman for the Salt Lake County Health Department, told ABC News in a statement that the greatest increase in numbers come from “younger people, high school and