CDC Provides Guidance on COVID-19 Antibody Testing

On May 26, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued interim guidelines for COVID-19 antibody testing in clinical and public health laboratories. The guidelines contain recommendations for clinical and public health laboratories regarding: choice of test and testing strategy; individuals who test positive for COVID-19 antibodies; and additional considerations on the use of antibody tests.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

CDC Issues ‘Decision Tree’ to Assist Employers with Reopening Decisions

On May 14, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finally published guidance in the form of a one-page workplace decision tree. Although the document―entitled “Workplaces During the COVID-19 Pandemic”―provides high-level recommendations for employers to consider when reopening, it largely defers to state and local guidance and is a far cry from the substantially more detailed guidance documents that the CDC reportedly had been considering in recent weeks.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

Interim CDC Guidance Lays Out Business Plans to Reopen Certain Sectors During COVID-19 Pandemic

As states and communities begin the process of reopening in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released business plans to provide interim guidance to certain programs and industries during the reopening process. The CDC released its proposed business plans for the following programs and industries: child care programs; schools and day camps; communities of faith; employers with vulnerable workers; restaurants and bars; and mass transit administrators.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

Two Companion Animals in U.S. Diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 Virus

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported today that two pet cats at undisclosed locations in the State of New York are confirmed to be positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that characterizes the human disease COVID-19.  These are the first cases of companion animals (pets) in the U.S. confirmed to have the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

To read the full text of this post by Duane Morris partner John Simpson, please visit the Duane Morris Animal Law Developments Blog.

U.S. Dept. of Education Issues COVID-19 Guidance to Schools

Due to the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that institutions of higher education consider postponing or canceling upcoming study abroad or foreign exchange programs. However, this advice has raised pressing questions about how this would affect Title IV, Higher Education Act (HEA) federal financial aid and a student’s ability to finish the term if a program is interrupted or canceled. In response, on March 5, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) offered guidance permitting temporary flexibility and clarifying how higher education institutions can continue to comply with Title IV regulations for students whose activities are impacted by COVID-19.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

COVID-19: Dealing with Potential Symptoms

More and more employers are encouraging employees to stay at home if they are sick or if they have symptoms that may correspond with an acute respiratory illness. In the interest of efficiency, some employers are simply circulating (or cutting and pasting from) the recommendations as set forth in this: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html 

While employers need to move quickly, that is not mutually exclusive from thinking through with celerity legal and practical, such as:

  1. The CDC guidance does not specifically list in one place the symptoms that may indicate acute respiratory illness. Employers may wish to spell them out.  Ideally, an employer should check with a medical professional before doing so. Without my providing medical advice, it is my understanding that the following are three (3) of the more common symptoms of an acute respiratory condition.
    1. (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater)
    2. Coughing
    3. Shortness of breath
  2. The CDC language speaks to “employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness.” […]
  3. Some of the symptoms, such as coughing or shortness of breath, may be consistent with conditions that are not contagious, such as asthma. […]
  4. An employer may wish to send an employee home who is experiencing symptoms that may be consistent with an acute respiratory condition. […]
  5. If an employer has a policy or practice relative to requiring employees to stay at home and/or sending them home if they have certain symptoms, employers need to consider whether to impose the same requirements on independent contractors and visitors as well as on employees employed by a temporary agency or contractor. […]

These are but some of the issues that an employer may wish to consider when dealing with an employee who has “only” possible symptoms of COVID-19 or another respiratory illness.

Now, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Think of someone you love and the time will go quickly!

To read the full blog post by Duane Morris partner Jonathan Segal, visit the SHRM website.

Coronavirus and the Workplace: A Quick Reference Guide for Employers

With no signs of slowing down, the coronavirus, or COVID-19, presents a potentially serious risk to the safety and welfare of employees and the financial health of companies. Employers must be prepared to address COVID-19 related issues in the workplace without violating employees’ rights and without causing unnecessary confusion.

What Should Employers Do to Protect Their Workforce?

There is no known vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, and thus the best way to protect the workplace is to avoid exposure to the virus. Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations, employers should:

  • Encourage employees to cleanse their hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water or with an alcohol-based rub, avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth, and cover their coughs or sneezes with a tissue.
  • Review cleaning operations to ensure frequently touched surfaces are disinfected regularly.
  • Encourage employees to avoid contact with sick people and to stay home if they are sick.

Personal protective equipment is a must for healthcare workers, however, it is not likely necessary for employees who are well, according to the CDC. If an employer receives a request from an employee to wear masks or gloves, employers should consider the requests with three issues in mind: whether the employee (1) has traveled to or from an area where COVID-19 is prevalent; (2) is exhibiting symptoms of the virus or has an underlying health condition; or (3) has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. The employer may also consider directing such employee not to report to work for a period of at least 14 days or longer, based on current CDC advice.

View the full Alert on the Duane Morris LLP website.

During Coronavirus Outbreak, Should Employers Check Workers’ Temperatures?

Infrared forehead thermometers—so-called thermometer guns—are “notoriously unreliable,” according to medical experts quoted in an article in The New York Times, but that hasn’t kept the devices from flying off store shelves as coronavirus cases pop up around the world. Some employers are using them to take workers’ temperatures, then sending the workers home if they have a fever.

[…]

Is it legal for employers to take workers’ temperatures? If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or a state or local health authority proclaims a pandemic has spread in an area, then yes, it is; otherwise, it is not, according to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance.

[…]

“Employers are doing the right thing by considering all options potentially available to them in the event of a pandemic, including temperature testing,” said Jonathan Segal, an attorney with Duane Morris in Philadelphia and New York City.

[…]

To read the full article, visit the SHRM website.