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Summary of Answers at 8 on October 21, 2020

Recent Legal Updates:

Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 169 – Phase 3 Extended

  • This original order began Friday, October 2nd at 5pm, taking NC into Phase 3 with caution; this was to last until at least 5pm on October 23rd. FAQs here.
  • As of the time of this recap of Answers at 8, we have learned that Phase 3 will be extended until at least November 13th.
  • The Governor and the Secretary of the NCDHHS asks elected officials in the harder-hit counties to consider increased actions to improve compliance with the executive orders. This could be, as an example, imposing fines for violations.
  • On October 15th, North Carolina saw its highest single-day COVID-19 case count yet, with 2,532 people testing positive for the virus.
  • Hospitalizations earlier last week reached their highest levels in the last two months, and the percentage of cases coming back positive has slowly increased but remained relatively stable between 5 and 7%.

A Reminder: Continue to Show Appreciation to Remote and Onsite Employees

  • Be personal and individualized. 
  • The more specific the better
  • Tell them why what they did is important – to you, to the organization, or to your client.

Review of the top COVID questions over the past week: 

  1. 1.The difference between influenza (flu) and COVID-19

Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. Many of the symptoms are the same, but in terms of hospitalizations and deaths, there are some key differences between flu and COVID-19. It is best to be safe and assume an illness is COVID-19 if the symptoms are similar.

  1. FMLA – Intent to Return to Work

If an employee is out on FMLA and indicates they may not or are considering not returning,  does this mean the employer can stop FMLA, end benefits, and call this a resignation? Yes, in some cases; however, it is important to have a well-documented assertation from the employee that they have made the decision as a final one and have no thoughts of changing it in the future. As an example, if an employee worries that their illness “will not resolve at the end of FMLA” and they will have to resign, this would not be an appropriate time to accept the resignation.

  1. When is a COVID-19 case recordable under OSHA? 

The employee must:

  • Have a confirmed case of COVID-19;
  • Have one or more of the general recording criteria for recordability; and
  • The case must be work-related.

What is work-related? OSHA offers a great list of evidential factors here.  Remember that in some states you must report any OSHA case or group of cases to the DHHS or another department.

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