COVID-19 Status for Employers & PA Dept of Health Updates
Laylan Pennel |
Revised COVID-19 Updates for Employers
During MEA’s weekly Town Hall, we heard from Amy McAndrew, Esq, about a full COVID-19 update for employers.
While there are no current restrictions around travel, the CDC is currently discouraging travel. Employers should be aware ,with international traveling, that they must have a negative COVID test to return to the United States. Regarding business travel, employers still have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace, including travel plans.
Also, as a clarification, the ARPA Cobra subsidy is only for involuntary termination between April 1-September 30, 2021. This is a 100% subsidy that is free to the employee and will be paid to the employer.
CDC Guidelines on Post Vaccination Considerations for Employers
- Encourage employees to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible and consider scheduling vaccination appointments 1-2 days before planned days off work.
- Stagger vaccination appointments so that employers are not vaccinating everyone all at once in a single department, service or unit where continued operations are required.
- Inform employees of the potential for common side effects after vaccination and provide information about what to do if they experience side effects.
- Provide or identify options for COVID-19 viral testing, so it is accessible for employees with systemic signs and symptoms after vaccination.
- Offer flexible, nonpunitive sick leave options for employees with systemic signs and symptoms.
How to assess and respond to post-vaccination signs and symptoms: exclude them from work until they feel better or have a negative COVID test.
Employees who meet the following can be considered for returning after COVID testing:
- Feel well enough and are willing to work; and
- Do NOT have a fever; and
- Do NOT have other signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
If symptoms do not improve in 2 days, they should be excluded from work and COVID testing should be considered. Employees with fever should be excluded from work pending further evaluation. If an infection is not suspected or confirmed as the source of their fever, the may return to work when they feel well enough.
Difficult Conversations With Employees
- Chauvin verdict happened this week
- Many cities and states are on alert.
- Opportunity to communicate with employees about difficult subjects
- MEA can provide resources to assist with these discussions.
PA Vaccine Updates with PA Department of Health
Pennsylvania is continuing to see a relatively high number of COVID cases, but weplateauing- around 4-5,000 cases per day. The Department of Health is keeping a close eye on hospitalizations, which is currently about 2600 across PA.
Pennsylvania ranks #10 with 43% of the population vaccinated with at least a first dose; the national average is around 40%. For total doses administered, PA ranks #5th in the nation.
We are currently paused on the JOhnson & Johnson vaccine, but updates are soon to come on whether this will be an ongoing pause, possibly with further education for physicians and administrators.
The Department of Health has narrowed down a provider list of about 300 providers to funnel vaccine supplies to. Now that that has happened, the federal program also gives out an allocation, including most pharmacies (about 500-600 across PA).
In addition to that, FEMA has a site in Philadelphia that is administrering vaccines separate from the Department of Health.
The department has worked on special initiatives, including local teachers- more than 100,000 teachers were vaccinated during this program, as well as The Department of Agriculture to vaccinate hard-to-reach populations.
We continue to encourage the public health pieces- such as handwashing and mask wearing to keep us safe throughout this pandemic.
Eligibility is open to all adults 16 and older as of April 19, 2021.
The Department of Health and Department of Community and Economic Development are working to create content that answers all your questions about the safety of the vaccine and information about vaccine hesitancy. The Department of Health has noted that young people, especially, are not getting vaccinated at the same rate- albeit that they have not had the same time eligibility to be vaccinated yet. We look for this to change over time.
At this time, we do not have official CDC information about annual boosters and we are learning about this now. (Stay tuned for updates!) As for variants of the virus, we are looking at those and breakthrough cases (someone who still gets COVID after vaccination).