Screening News Weekly Wrap: November 20th, 2020

Screening News Weekly Wrap: November 20th, 2020

By Jennifer Gladstone

If you assume your employer will notify you if a coworker tests positive, you might be wrong, COVID-19 cases shut down the legal system again, and the CDC offers tips for your holiday work celebrations. It’s all in today’s EBI Screening News Weekly Wrap.

Your Employer May NOT Have to Tell You About COVID-19 Cases

Believe it or not, your employer is under no legal obligation to tell you if a coworker tests positive for COVID-19. At least, not yet.

According to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), employers should participate in contact tracing efforts if someone on their staff tests positive for the virus. That would include interviewing the person to find out where they were in the facility and who they had close contact with in the days before their diagnosis. They should then share that information with the local health department.

Under that guidance, it’s recommended that employers notify coworkers who were within 6 feet of the person for 15 minutes or longer. And again, for most, that is still just a suggestion.

California is the first to try to change that. The state legislature recently passed a new law to expand the employer’s role in reporting COVID-19 exposure. California Assembly Bill 685 requires employers to notify all employees who might have been exposed to the virus. They have only 24 hours to do so, and it must be in writing. Employers will also be required to report all exposures to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal OSHA).

These new requirements go into effect on New Year’s Day.

Courts Shutting Down Again

Coronavirus is once again weighing down the scales of justice. With numbers surging across the country, jury trials are being suspended and some courthouses are closing completely.

Many courts had returned to nearly normal operations. Many had abandoned virtual hearings and returned to in-person proceedings with face masks and social distancing. But now, these efforts are no longer enough.

This week the Maryland Judiciary put COVID-19 restrictions back into place and halted jury trials, at least through the end of the year. Delaware courts are also taking a step back, moving from phase three of their four-phase reopening plan, back to phase two, which limits capacity in courtrooms to no more than 10 people.

New York’s top administrative judge has ordered all jury trials to be suspended and halted all-new grand juries. If a trial or grand jury is already underway, they may finish, but only bench trials will be allowed going forward.

The Texas Supreme Court has extended its emergency order forbidding in-person jury trials until February.

Closures are expected to continue as the weather gets colder and case numbers continue to rise.

CDC Offers Guidance for Holiday Parties

Holiday parties are an important tradition for many companies, and after months of working from home and only seeing your coworkers on video chats, it might be tempting to plan an in-person get-together.

According to the CDC, employers need to consider several things before sending out invitations. First and foremost, it’s important to consider the current level of COVID-19 spread in your area. If it is growing significantly, a gathering right now might not be in the cards.

Other things to consider – does your state or county currently have restrictions on the size of gatherings, and will people need to travel from other states to attend? Both increase the likelihood of spreading the virus.

The CDC also offers some suggestions for the event itself. Some are very familiar like maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, and washing your hands. Others you might not have thought of like avoiding singing and potlucks, or any self-serve food and drinks. Employers can also ask attendees to sign forms acknowledging that the event is voluntary and carries risks regarding COVID-19.

Screening News Network

About the Author

Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.

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