We are fielding concerns from clients on how they should prepare in the event of a local outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). In response, we have compiled a list of tips and resources. We invite you to add our page to your favorites as we continue to provide updates.
Stay up to date on information regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Due to widespread media coverage, we suggest information from the following sources:
FIND A SHOT - COVID-19 Vaccine Finder
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
World Health Organization (WHO)
Johns Hopkins University Interactive Map and Dashboard of COVID-19
Supreme Court Strikes Down OSHA's Vaccine ETS: An Employer's 6-Step Priority List
It's the responsibility of every employer to protect employees from these and other illnesses in the workplace. Taking even small precautions could save an organization countless hours of lost productivity.
Creating a communicable disease response plan is an effective way to communicate with employees clearly while also complying with local, state and federal guidelines for pandemic responses. Plans should be concise, easy to understand and effective in preserving the health and safety of all employees.
The videos below offer tips and resources for your business, including mental health resources for your workforce, a virtual tour of TrueNorth headquarters with updates and proactive measures TrueNorth is taking to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Our internal team also created a short and lighthearted video outlining etiquette and best practices for video conferencing:
Things to Consider Before Reopening
What Employers Need to Know about OSHA’s New Vaccine & Testing Requirements
To assist with tracking and reporting efforts, we have provided a downloadable COVID-19 All-in-One Vaccination Tracker (Excel).
Please note: the link above opens a third-party document, and TrueNorth is not responsible for the content therein, including whether it is updated to remain current with any changes that occur. Further, we should note that that Word and Adobe files are not updated. Pending litigation with respect to the OSHA ETS, and thus recommend that our clients stay informed as to current enforcement status.
Companies like altumAI’s checkPoint also make it easy for employers to manage vaccine and testing verification in the workplace. Learn more about their automated verification system.
Fisher Phillips offers a high-level summary of key points of the ETS, including:
Each business will have to assess and make its own independent decision about when to officially return to the workplace. In addition to general guidance, OSHA frequently issues guidance tailored to specific industries. To date, OSHA released specific guidance for the following industries:
CIAB | Guidelines by Industry
MASK GUIDANCE & COMMUNICATION
The CDC has adopted “COVID-19 Community Levels” of “Low,” “Medium,” and “High” to help communities decide what recommendations and requirements to put in place. The CDC has provided a “COVID-19 County Check” tool to find the community level in a particular county and the prevention steps recommended for that county. The CDC’s new guidance provides important considerations for employers who have been considering rescinding their masking policies.
Consider hanging posters in the workplace with tips on how to slow the spread of germs. The CDC offers examples available in both English and Spanish. Encourage any employee exhibiting symptoms of acute respiratory illness (e.g., shortness of breath, cough, fever, etc.) to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever and any other symptoms without the use of medicine for at least 24 hours.
- The CDC has created the following posters for download:
As organizations continue to leverage video calls to conduct business, it is important to maintain a professional presence and be mindful of one's surroundings.
It's also important to consider alternative coverage for ill employees. Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidelines.
Ensure that next steps are in place should an event need to be canceled or postponed.
Employee travel should comply with all advisories from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and U.S. Department of State. As a result, those who are traveling to areas affected by COVID-19 should be required to follow all health recommendations.
KEEPING THE WORKPLACE SANITARY
Employers can protect against coronaviruses much like they protect against the flu: offer on-site flu shots, stock cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer and educate employees on prevention methods. The following resources can help mitigate the threat of coronavirus in your workplace. While the Servpro site below is based in Iowa, they can accommodate worksite cleaning requests nationwide.
Sources: The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers (CIAB), U.S. Department of Labor, ThinkHR, Fisher Phillips, Washington Post, CDC, Servpro
PROPERTY & CASUALTY RESOURCES
We encourage our clients to review their insurance policies and claim reporting requirements. The scope of coverage for claims arising from Coronavirus (COVID-19) depends on the specific facts of the loss or claim, the terms of the insurance policy and the governing law of the jurisdiction in question. The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers (CIAB) is now updating state-by-state positions on workers' compensation and business interruption. A link to their portal can be found below:
CIAB: State Activity
Insured perils and/or covered causes of loss, which are defined in each policy, will determine if coverage applies. Business Interruption coverage requires the interruption to be from a Covered cause of loss (e.g., fire, tornado, etc.). Unfortunately with COVID-19, in most cases, coverage will be excluded due to a "pandemic," "epidemic," and/or "virus" exclusion of the policy.
Potential coverage is as follows:
- First-Party Property and Business Interruption Insurance - insurance coverage that replaces business income lost in a disaster. The event could be, for example, a fire or a natural disaster and or for shutdown or slowdown of your own business.
- Needs to be a covered cause of loss (with extension for Communicable Disease, Epidemic and/or Pandemic, which is rare).
- Contingent Business Interruption (CBI) or Supply Chain Risk Insurance - for disruption of supply chains and, potentially, markets, and downstream customers.
- Needs to be a covered cause of loss (with extension for Communicable Disease, Epidemic and/or Pandemic, which is rare).
- Commercial General Liability (CGL) Insurance - for liability to third parties arising from bodily injury or, potentially, personal injury or property damage.
- Definition of personal injury and or property damage will aid in the determination of coverage.
- Directors & Officers (D&O), Management Liability, Errors & Omissions (E&O) and Professional Liability Insurance - for claims that management personnel failed to take appropriate measures to protect the business or third parties.
- Event Cancellation Insurance
- Needs to be a covered cause of loss (with extension for Communicable Disease, Epidemic, and or Pandemic, which is rare)
- Workers' Compensation Insurance – when submitting a claim an employee may have to establish work-relatedness.
- California recently enacted SB-1159 which imposes certain reporting requirements on employers. The new reporting requirement will be used to identify and establish claims that have been reported under an ‘outbreak’ presumption.
- State-specific but with the incubation period being 14 days, the employee may have to prove that they contracted the virus at work.
- Workers Compensation will also likely exclude COVID-19 claims in most cases. By definition, an occupational disease must:
- be contracted during the course of employment.
- be contracted due to the conditions "peculiar" to the work.
- USLAW NETWORK recently released a state-by-state workers’ compensation quick guide with a focus on COVID-19 issues, including general provisions, compensability, benefits and areas of inquiry.
CLAIMS & COVERAGE
In the event you are looking to report a claim directly to your insurance carrier, we have created a business interruption claims reporting guide.
TRANSPORTATION, FREIGHT & SUPPLY CHAIN RESOURCES
NEW According to a statement by U.S. Labor Secretary, Marty Walsh, truck drivers traveling alone in their cabs are exempt from a new interim final rule mandating that employees for large private companies get COVID-19 vaccinations. Read more on this exemption from Transport Topics.
As the federal and state governments start the process of re-opening the economy, there are myriad issues to consider. The following document prepared by Benesch Law outlines ten things transportation and logistics businesses should think about to prepare for the transition to a post-COVID world.
EMPLOYEE BENEFIT RESOURCES
With the surplus of information and frequency of updates, it may seem overwhelming to know where to start. TrueNorth's benefits team is here to offer support by providing a simple four-step process to navigate the most common questions we are intercepting from clients during these unprecedented times.
1. EDUCATE YOURSELF ON CORONAVIRUS UPDATES & EMERGING LEGISLATION
The American Rescue Plan Act: What Employers Need to Know
View the recording
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law's paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December 31, 2020.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) creates a new type of loan for the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) to administer. Unlike the disaster loans currently available through the SBA, these loans are potentially forgivable up to 100% of the principal amount borrowed. The CARES Act also changes the over-the-counter (OTC) rules for Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRA) and Health Savings Accounts (HSA).
2. EXPLORE THE IMPACT COVID-19 MAY HAVE ON YOUR BUSINESS & WORKFORCE
COVID-19 healthcare claims average costs for in-patient/non-ICU hospital care is $11,050. The average cost for in-patient/ICU hospital care is $30,950.
Although it may feel like there are currently more questions than answers regarding COVID-19 and the emerging laws; these sources have compiled thorough answers to frequently asked questions:
3. ENGAGE TRUSTED & PROFESSIONAL ADVISORS
Now more than ever, it's critical to have a team you can trust and rely on. TrueNorth is here to help you navigate this challenging time.
4. EMPOWER YOUR WORKFORCE
We know that your employees are looking for guidance and asking tough questions during this difficult time. In response, we have compiled the following resources:
TrueNorth's benefits team has created documents for you to share with employees. We will continue to update these resources to reflect the evolving landscape:
Sources: CIAB, DOL, Fisher Phillips, IRS, SBA, SHRM. ThinkHR, Wakely
NATIONAL & STATE UPDATES
Identifying Critical Infrastructure During COVID-19
The following sectors have been identified to employ essential critical infrastructure workers. This guidance and accompanying list are intended to support state, local, and industry partners in identifying the critical infrastructure sectors and the essential workers needed to maintain the services and functions Americans depend on daily and need to be able to operate resiliently during the COVID-19 pandemic response.
NATIONAL & LEGISLATIVE UPDATES
Fisher Phillips | What Employers Need to Know About Biden's American Rescue Plan
Federal Reserve Board | Main Street Lending Program
CIAB | Resource Center
To stay current on the implementation of this legislation, we invite you to visit the following websites:
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
Here you will find business guidance and loan resources, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Emergency Grants, and Small Business Debt Relief.
U.S. Department of Treasury
Small businesses seeking direct relief from COVID-19 can learn more about Paycheck Protection Loans here.
U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has created a resource page for workers and employers. The DOL's Wage and Hour Division created a list of FAQ's dedicated to COVID-19 or other public health emergencies and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
- NEW COVID-19 Funeral Assistance
Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, FEMA is providing financial assistance for COVID-19 related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
While not specifically related to COVID-19, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has previously issued guidance entitled Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
NEW On December 1, The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)'s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued an expanded and extended national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the nationwide COVID-19 outbreak. We have also linked to a Summary of Select Federal COVID-19 Emergency Actions & Regulatory Relief Affecting Trucking from Scopelitis Transportation Consulting.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
In response to COVID-19, the Office of Civil Rights for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a bulletin regarding HIPAA Privacy and COVID-19.
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
NEW: OSHA QuickTakes: Vaccination and Testing ETS
OSHA issued an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on Vaccination and Testing to protect workers from the coronavirus. Employers with at least 100 employees will be required to adopt a mandatory vaccination policy unless they adopt a policy requiring unvaccinated workers to undergo weekly testing and wear a face covering at work. Get the facts from OSHA on the COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS. Please note that the ETS is the subject of pending litigation. TrueNorth will update the Coronavirus Resource Center as further developments occur.
OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requires employers to establish and maintain the following:
- A COVID-19 log to record COVID-19 cases in their workforce. This document explains those requirements and provides guidance for recording COVID-19 cases on the COVID-19 log.
- Report all work-related COVID-19 fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations to OSHA. This document explains the reporting requirements.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created a COVID-19 website for workers and employers that addresses the disease and provides guidance and other resources for preventing exposure to and infection with the virus. Topics covered include:
State-specific insurance insight:
Many of the states have issued directives and guidance relating to COVID-19, and more are doing so on a daily basis. These directives and guidance address numerous insurance regulatory issues including premium forbearance, out-of-network and balance billing issues, cost-sharing under health insurance policies, telehealth requirements, regulatory compliance issues including licensing and other issues.
Sources: Steptoe & Johnson LLP, U.S. DHS, U.S. DOL, U.S. EEOC, FMCSA, U.S. HHS, OSHA
Stop the spread of germs, including the spread of respiratory diseases like COVID-19.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
HAND HYGIENE & SOCIAL DISTANCING
Keep your hands clean to help avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Your best option is to wash your hands with soap and warm, clean running water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands.
KNOW THE SYMPTOMS & TAKE PREVENTATIVE MEASURES
Testing for COVID-19
COVID-19 Quarantine & Isolation (Q&I) Calculator
COVID-19 Vaccine Resources
It is important to know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19:
- Shortness of breath
Seek medical advice if you develop symptoms AND have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19. The button above provides information from the CDC on who should be tested, how to get tested and what to do after you have been tested for COVID-19.
IT'S OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted nearly every part of our lives. It is perfectly normal to feel upset during this time. Taking care of your mental health during this time is just as important as your physical health.
Quick Guide to Surviving the Isolation brought on by COVID-19
It is normal to feel isolated or experience anxiety because of the pandemic. These tips will help you take control of your situation.
- Exercise. Physical and mental health are connected. Sometimes the best thing we can do to cope with anxiety, depression, stress, and tension is to get moving. Go for a walk, wear out the carpet on your stairs, or stream some yoga instruction.
- Routine. As much as we can, we should try to maintain the same routines we had before we knew what COVID-19 was. Get up at the same time, go to bed at the same time, shower like usual, maybe even put on your work (from home) clothes! Structure, consistency, and predictability are conducive to a healthy state of being.
- Limit Input. Watching the news 24/7 and reading COVID-19 updates nonstop is enough to make any of us overwhelmed and scared. Find a few reputable news sources and stay updated but limit it to a few times a day.
- Stay Connected. Social distancing is needed to keep us all safe — but that just means physical social distancing. Emotional and psychological connection aren’t “cancelled” because of the coronavirus. Stay in touch with your loved ones, call your friends, set up some video chats with the co-workers you no longer see regularly, and yell at your neighbor from the front steps. Humans are wired to be relational and we may need to be a little more intentional about that than usual during these times.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Resources for Managing Stress
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can take an emotional as well as a physical toll. There are strategies that can help with the stress, grief and anxiety that many people are feeling.
Access Information & Resources
Crisis Text Line
Crisis Text Line serves anyone, in any type of crisis, providing access to free, 24/7 support and information via a medium people already use and trust: text. Visit crisistextline.org to learn more.
Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor.
Sources: CDC.gov, Crisis Text Line
If you have questions or would like more information, please contact your TrueNorth team today.
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This webpage has been prepared by TrueNorth Companies, L.C. and is intended for informational purposes only. Transmission of this publication is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a client relationship with TrueNorth Companies, L.C. This publication does not constitute any type of representation or warranty, and does not constitute, and should not be relied upon on as, legal advice. This publication is not a contract and does not amend, modify or change any insurance policy you may have with an insurance carrier. © 2020 TrueNorth Companies, L.C. All rights reserved.