Coronavirus Impact Updates

CDC Order to Temporarily Halt Residential Evictions Nationwide

Posted In Coronavirus

Coronavirus

On August 8, 2020, President Trump directed his administration to prevent residential evictions and foreclosures resulting from financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, his Executive Order (EO) states that the administration will take all legal measures needed to prevent this activity. In order to prevent the further spread of the virus, the EO tasks the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to consider measures to temporarily prohibit residential evictions for failure to pay rent due to COVID-19 hardships.

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State Powers to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccination and Employee Vaccination Considerations for Employers

Posted In Coronavirus

Coronavirus

In 1955, Canada used an 18-month polio vaccine trial period to set up a compulsory vaccination program. Facing the same health crisis and given the same time period, the U.S. Federal government chose a limited role in engaging State governments to prepare for and distribute the vaccine. Many claimed the U.S. Federal government’s failure to work with the States to prepare and lead in the 1950s led to distribution problems of the polio vaccine, with many poor communities being overlooked for more than a decade.

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Governor Kemp Signs Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act

Coronavirus

On August 5, 2020, Governor Kemp signed into law the Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act. This was one of the final bills to pass out of the legislature on the last day of the 2020 Legislative Session. The Act was written and considered in response to concerns of small businesses throughout Georgia regarding potential legal liability for COVID-19 claims against owners as the economy re-opens in Georgia. The law applies to any COVID-19 claim arising on or after August 5, 2020. For a summary of the highlights of the Act, please read our July 1, law alert, “Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act,” here.

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COVID-19 Vaccination and State School/Childcare Vaccination Laws

Coronavirus

Mandatory vaccination laws were first enacted in the early 19th century, beginning with Massachusetts’ smallpox vaccination law in 1809. Generally, courts have ruled that the policing power of States absolutely includes reasonable regulations, such as vaccinations laws, established by State legislatures to protect public health and safety. State vaccination laws are mostly applied to children for school or childcare enrollment or employees of certain health care facilities. With this in mind and in anticipation of a vaccine for COVID-19, many wonder if children and healthcare employees will be the first population sectors in which States will require compulsory vaccination under existing laws. If that is the case, many schools, childcare facilities, parents and community leaders may question if it is a “reasonable regulation” to vaccinate a population sector least affected by COVID-19, being children, to protect the public health and safety of all.

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What to Do When Your Employee Refuses to Return to Work Amid COVID-19?

Coronavirus

The United States is now approximately four months out from when states and localities began to shelter-in-place due to the serious health concerns of COVID-19. Many employers initially scrambled to determine whether to furlough or terminate their employees, while others implemented work-from-home policies and procedures. Although most states have moved into phases two or three of reopening, the ever-growing number of positive COVID-19 cases presents ongoing hurdles for employers seeking to bring employees back into the workplace. So what happens if your employee refuses to return to work? 

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Business Waits for No One, Certainly Not Negative Tests: New CDC Guideline Obviate the Need for Retesting

Coronavirus

Based on previous guidelines and advice, many business owners are telling employees who have tested positive for COVID-19, to not return to work until they test negative. Sometimes, this means waiting weeks and even months. There are numerous reasons contributing to the problem. First, some patients test positive for weeks after full recovery and no longer being contagious. Second, scheduling a test is getting harder and results are taking longer and longer. Third, the tests being used are still unreliable, with the "quick" ones having the highest rates of false positives and false negatives. In the meantime, businesses are seeing an uptick in business, but cannot fulfill orders or client needs because they have no workers. Some have even had to shut down. It is very surprising, then, that the CDC's new guideline saying a negative test is not necessary has flown under the radar.

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American Academy of Pediatrics Urges Schools to Open

Coronavirus

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) surprised everyone recently with guidance urging that all decisions for school this coming year “start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” The guidance recognized concerns about COVID-19, but cited “mounting evidence” that children and adolescents are less likely to be symptomatic and less likely to have severe problems from the virus. It also noted that “children may be less likely to become infected and to spread infection.” The AAP urges policymakers to balance mitigation efforts with “the known harms to children, adolescents, families, and the community by keeping children at home.”

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Reopening Schools, Fall 2020

Coronavirus

Both the state of Georgia and the CDC have released guidance to help school authorities “determine their plans and strategies for reopening schools” in the fall, whatever of the status of the pandemic.  While neither document is binding, they will be important in establishing the standard of care for both independent and public schools.  The guidelines focus on the ability to open buildings and allow students to move freely, based on the degree of potential community spread. 

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Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act

Coronavirus

On June 26, 2020, the Georgia General Assembly passed the Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act as one of the final bills to pass out of the legislature on the last day of the 2020 Legislative Session. The Act was written and considered in response to concerns of small businesses throughout Georgia concerning potential legal liability for COVID-19 claims against owners as the economy re-opens in Georgia. While this law has not yet been signed by the Governor, it is expected to be signed. The following is a summary of the highlights of the Act.

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Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Due to Closure or Partial Closure of Summer Camps, Summer Enrichment Programs or Other Summer Programs

Coronavirus

On June 26, 2020, the United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, issued a Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) regarding the circumstances that closure of summer camps, summer enrichment programs, or other summer programs qualifies an employee for leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). A FAB provides guidance to the Wage and Hour Division investigators and staff on enforcement positions and clarification of policies or changes in policy. While not law, employers are still encouraged to follow the FAB as it will be used by the investigators to determine if there has been a violation of the FFCRA.

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