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:
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
World Health Organization (WHO)
Johns Hopkins University Interactive Map and Dashboard of COVID-19
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 video below offers a virtual tour of TrueNorth headquarters guided by TrueNorth President and CEO, Jason Smith. The tour features updates and proactive measures TrueNorth is taking to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Things to Consider Before Reopening
TrueNorth's Facility Reentry Plans
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
- Consider hanging posters in the workplace with tips on how to slow the spread of germs. The CDC offers a nice example here available in 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. Our internal team has created a short video outlining etiquette and best practices for video conferencing:
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.
Keep 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
As with any claim, each situation is different and 'yes or no' determinations will need to be investigated. We have compiled carrier resources below:
Insurance Carrier Information
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
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 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 that COVID-19 may have on your business and workforce
COVID-19 healthcare claims average costs for in-patient/non-ICU hospital care is $11,050. Average costs 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:
Insurance carriers are responding to emerging laws and continuously providing clarity on coverage and premium impacts due to COVID-19. We've created a consolidated list of insurance carrier websites and resources to make it easier to stay current on carrier updates:
Insurance Carrier Information
3. Engage trusted and 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.
We understand many of our clients are looking for answers and information regarding the third and latest stimulus package signed into law on Friday, March 27. In response, we would like to share the following resources:
Federal Reserve Board | Main Street Lending Program
Steptoe & Johnson | US Financial Regulatory Agency Action on COVID-19
CIAB | Resource Center
To stay up to date 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.
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 website dedicated to COVID-19 or other public health emergencies and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
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)
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)'s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued an expanded 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.
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)
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:
CDC | COVID Data Tracker
State-specific Insurance Insight:
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.
Practice hand hygiene and 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
Testing for COVID-19
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.
Feeling anxious about coronavirus?
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.
We're in this together.
TrueNorth has created a LinkedIn group for clients and community partners to share work-from-home tips, family activities, motivation and other useful resources.
TrueNorth's Community and Wellbeing Forum
Find and follow us here:
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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.