This memorandum provides the background guidance, a summary action-plan, and an appendix with resources from the CDC, OSHA, and the EEOC. For more specific local information, please be guided by information being issued by your local public health offcials and state and local authorities. Laws and guidance are evolving rapidly and may be subject to change.
As you know, there is an ongoing and developing situation regarding the outbreak of COVID-19, commonly known as the Coronavirus. The Coronavirus has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. The most common symptoms of Coronavirus are: Fever, Cough, and Shortness of Breath. The CDC believes at this time that symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. The CDC is still determining exactly how the virus is spread but it is believed to spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets also land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. It is believed that it possible to catch the virus from someone even before they have symptoms, but little is known about this aspect of the virus at this time.
The CDC and governmental authorities are urging social distancing and staying at least 6 feet from others. Employers are encouraged to take the following reasonable steps recommended by OSHA and the CDC to prevent community spread in their workforces. This is important, not only to protect employees, but to protect the public at large and to prevent further disruption to operations. In this regard, it is important to remember that, while the below actions taken out of an abundance of caution may cause minor disruptions in the workplace, they are there to prevent even larger workplace disruptions. Employers have the same basic responsibilities to their workforces under OSHA to protect workers from physical harm.
Supervisors should be trained to calmly follow the CDC and OSHA guidelines and not overreact to create panic at the worksite. These guidelines are summarized in this bulletin and links for additional information are provided. Employees who are exhibiting symptoms may be asked to go home and seek medical attention.
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