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CDC Provides Additional Interim Guidance on Reopening for Businesses With ‘Workers at High Risk’

May 28, 2020

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

The CDC has issued a 60-page document, “CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response and the President’s Plan for Opening America Up Again,” briefly summarizing the CDC’s initiatives, activities, and tools in support of the Whole-of-Government response to COVID-19.

As businesses and other organizations gradually open after the COVID-19-related slowdown, they will need to consider a variety of measures for keeping people safe.  These considerations include practices for scaling up operations, safety actions (e.g., cleaning and disinfection, social distancing), monitoring possible reemergence of illness, and maintaining healthy operations.

Interim guidance for helping several types of establishments (including employers with workers at high risk; schools and day camps; restaurants and bars; and mass transit) with these steps is provided in Appendix F of the CDC document; details as to high-risk workers are below.

Interim Guidance for Employers With workers at High Risk

As workplaces consider a gradual scale up of activities towards pre-COVID-19 operating practices, it is particularly important to keep in mind that some workers are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. These workers include individuals over age 65 and those with underlying medical conditions.

Underlying Medical Conditions

Such underlying conditions include, but are not limited to, chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, hypertension, severe heart conditions, weakened immunity, severe obesity, diabetes, liver disease, and chronic kidney disease that requires dialysis. Workers at higher risk for severe illness should be encouraged to self-identify.  Employers should avoid making unnecessary medical inquiries.

Employers should take particular care to reduce workers’ risk of exposure to COVID-19, while making sure to be compliant with relevant ADA and ADEA regulations. This means following CDC and the OSHA guidance for reducing workplace exposure for all employees.

Seek Help from Local Health Officials

All decisions about following these recommendations should be made in collaboration with local health officials and other state and local authorities who can help assess the current level of mitigation needed based on levels of COVID-19 community transmission and the capacities of the local public health and healthcare systems. In addition, this guidance applies to workplaces generally; specific industries may require more stringent safety precautions. Finally, there may be essential workplaces in which the recommended mitigation strategies are not feasible.

In Michigan, Executive Order 2020-91 requires employers re-opening to have a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan. The plan must be in place by June 1st or within two weeks of resuming in-person activities. This plan must be available to employees, labor unions, and customers via their website, internal network, or hard copy.

ASE has created a template COVID-19 response plan. It’s free to ASE members and available for $99 to non-members.  Access or request to purchase here.

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