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OSHA Issues New Employer COVID-19 Guidance Regarding Unvaccinated and At-Risk Workers | Holland & Knight LLP

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The Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA) issued a Temporary Emergency Standard (ETS) on June 10, 2021 to address the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic and its ongoing effects on the workplace. However, the ETS only applies to health care workers and health care workers. Also on June 10th, OSHA released separate guidance to provide clarity for employers and non-ETS employees. This Holland & Knight warning focuses on the latter, non-ETS directive, with an upcoming accompanying warning that will focus on the ETS for healthcare workers.

The ETS and the updated guidelines follow the Biden Administration Executive Order of January 21, 2021, which addressed the health and safety of American workers and instructed OSHA to assign the need for revised or additional occupational safety standards in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic check. (See previous Holland & Knight warning, “OSHA Update: Biden Administration Signals New Employer COVID-19 Obligations,” February 10, 2021.)

general overview

The non-ETS guidelines focus on protecting unvaccinated and otherwise vulnerable workers, promoting COVID-19 vaccination, and providing links to updated content. The guidance is important for employers because the Labor Protection Act (the Occupational Safety and Health Act) requires them to adhere to safety and health standards and regulations issued and enforced by either OSHA or an OSHA-approved government plan. In addition, the general mandatory clause of the OSH Act, 29 USC Section 654, 5 (a) 1, even in the absence of guidance or a specific OSH Act standard from employers, requires “their workers to have a safe and healthy workplace with no recognized hazards that can cause death or cause or cause serious physical harm. “Employers need to be aware of hazardous situations in the workplace and sometimes fill the vulnerability left by OSHA. In addition, OSHA and employers can continue to rely on existing pre-COVID standards related to workplace hazards due to COVID-19 apply, such as requirements under the General Mandatory Clause (See previous Holland & Knight warning, “COVID-19 OSHA Follow-Up: Agency Updates and Additional Recommended Employer Practices”, April 27, 2020.)

Indeed, the most recent guidelines from OSHA make it clear that the guidelines are neither a standard nor a regulation and do not create any new legal obligations. According to OSHA, the guidance is intended to “help employers identify and avoid hazards that could result in death or serious physical harm as part of their commitment to provide a safe and healthy workplace.” This language reflects the requirements of the general mandatory clause. Therefore, following these guidelines can help employers ensure that they are fulfilling their obligations to ensure safety in the workplace.

Vaccinated employees

OSHA’s June 10, 2021 guidelines focus on vaccinated versus unvaccinated workers and clearly state that most employers no longer need to take action to protect their fully vaccinated workers unless it is federal, state, local -, tribal or territorial laws or regulations are prescribed differently that are otherwise not endangered by COVID-19. Given the importance of protecting vaccines and those who have been vaccinated, the recommended steps in OSHA’s most recent guidance only apply to unvaccinated or otherwise vulnerable workers.

Vulnerable workers

While the definition of “unvaccinated worker” is fairly straightforward and defined by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as “any worker less than two weeks away from their last vaccination”, is the definition of “at-risk workers” is less clear and apparently can include people who have been vaccinated. For example, workers who have received a vaccine may still be classified as “at risk” due to a weak immune response. Some diseases, such as a Previous transplants, as well as prolonged use of corticosteroids or other immune-compromising drugs, may affect workers’ ability to develop a full immune response to vaccination, so employers should consider taking measures to protect workers who have personal safety concerns, as well as unvaccinated work irrespective of their vaccination status.

Steps to Protect Unvaccinated and Vulnerable Workers

OSHA recommends implementing multiple levels of control to protect the workplace. Key controls identified by OSHA to protect unvaccinated or otherwise vulnerable workers include:

  1. Ensure that all workers infected with COVID-19, those with symptoms and unvaccinated workers who are in close contact with someone with a confirmed COVID-19 case are removed from work
  2. physical distancing of unvaccinated and vulnerable workers in community work areas
  3. Maintenance of ventilation systems
  4. continue to require face covers or other personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees and to suggest the same for customers, visitors and guests
  5. Granting paid leave to workers to get vaccinated
  6. Performing routine cleaning and disinfection
  7. Education and training of workers on COVID-19 policies and procedures
  8. Implement strong anti-retaliation policies for workers to raise concerns about COVID-19 related hazards
  9. Record and report COVID-19 infections and deaths if these infections are work-related

Side effects of vaccines

Some employers have raised the following question: If the employer proposes and / or orders that workers receive the vaccine and then experience a side effect, does the employer need to record or report that vaccine side effect to OSHA? The OSHA guidelines address this question and conclude that employers will not have to report any vaccine side effects until May 2022. However, employees can report side effects to the federal system for reporting unwanted vaccines.

Fully vaccinated workers

In the event that 100 percent of workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the most recent guidelines from OSHA state that employers (other than those covered by the ETS and public transport masking requirements) no longer have their workers in front of a Every workplace must protect against COVID-19 exposure. It is important, however, that this only applies if the entire workforce is vaccinated. Employers shouldn’t overlook the June 10, 2021 OSHA policy that states that employers must take protective measures to protect the workers at risk when a vaccinated but vulnerable worker is present in a fully vaccinated workforce.

Next Steps

Due to the broad nature of the ETS and the long-term perspective of the non-ETS guidelines, it is not expected that OSHA will issue additional guidelines in the near future.

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Pandemic

COVID-19 strategies resulted in ‘almost zero’ infections at summer camps, CDC says

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CDC updates COVID-19 guide for summer campers

Children in summer camps can skip wearing masks outdoors with a few exceptions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the guidelines on May 28th.

According to a study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overnight camps that followed strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19 were quite successful this summer.

The CDC analyzed 7,173 campers and employees in nine overnight camps from June to August. Only nine laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 have occurred. And none of these cases resulted in reinfections.

“The results of this study confirm that layered prevention strategies (e.g., frequent screening tests, masking, physical distancing, and activity modification) help reduce the risk of introducing and spreading COVID-19 in youth summer camps,” it said in the report The lead scientist Dr. Sarah Lee told FOX News. “In addition, these camps with high vaccination rates for eligible staff and campers were well prepared to prevent COVID-19.”

The camps worked with the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Camp Association, and state and local departments to develop protocols specific to their location.

“COVID is not a game” Biden calls for schoolchildren to be vaccinated | LiveNOW from FOX

Presiden and Dr. Biden make comments on how “the administrator keeps students safe in the classrooms”.

All camps required attendees to wear masks and practice social distancing two weeks prior to their arrival. Upon arrival, they were required to present a negative result from a COVID-19 test that was performed no more than three days earlier.

The camps encouraged all eligible participants to be vaccinated, but did not require them to be vaccinated. Thirty percent of the campers were under the age of 12, which means they did not qualify for the vaccine.

TIED TOGETHER: According to the study, unvaccinated people can expect COVID-19 infections every 16 months

They were given COVID-19 tests daily for 12 days along with all of the other unvaccinated participants. The CDC said the camps ran more than 38,000 tests. Only 21 were positive and 15 were later classified as false positive.

Three more symptomatic cases were later identified, for a total of nine out of more than 7,100 participants.

“Implementing high vaccination coverage coupled with multiple prevention strategies is critical to averting COVID-19 outbreaks in community settings, including overnight camps,” the CDC said. “These results highlight important guiding principles for school and youth-based COVID-19 prevention protocols.”

Employees and campers were organized in pods. Each capsule was the same hut, in which the residents interacted with their other members without masking themselves or physically distancing themselves, but eventually the camps merged into larger huts where a capsule developed into several huts.

Camp leaders also maximized outdoor activities and decreased the chances of the virus spreading. The meals were staggered, as were the indoor and outdoor dining times.

This story was reported from Atlanta.

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Column: Schools are ground zero of resistance to COVID-19 reality and outrageous misinformation

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It’s enough to bang your head against the wall.

A Florida private school ordered that students who receive the vaccine be quarantined at home for 30 days after each dose. School officials made the false claim that vaccinations put these students, rather than the unvaccinated, at risk of spreading the coronavirus.

A relatively small number of San Diego County parents kept their children out of school for a day last week to protest vaccination regulations, although statistics show that the COVID-19 vaccines are very effective at protecting people from COVID-19.

An immunocompromised teenager spoke out in favor of vaccinations and masks during a recent school council meeting in the Central Valley town of Clovis. The student was booed and ridiculed by adults attending the meeting.

All of this happened as more information emerged on the importance of coronavirus vaccines in protecting the public. The risk of dying from COVID-19 was 11 times higher for unvaccinated adults than for fully vaccinated adults in August, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

More than 730,000 people in the US and nearly 5 million worldwide have died from COVID-19.

The former roughly corresponds to the population of Seattle, the latter to all residents of Ireland.

However, there does not seem to be a day that goes by without at least one action, position, or statement that contradicts the facts, logic, or common sense about the coronavirus.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was fully vaccinated, died last week of complications from COVID-19. His death has been used in some circles to raise doubts about the vaccines. Not mentioned – or downplayed – was the fact that Powell’s cancer and the treatment he received for it left him severely immunocompromised and therefore more susceptible to the effects of the coronavirus.

These groundbreaking cases are rare, but they do happen. People with such conditions are at higher risk of developing COVID-19 and dying, although the vaccines still offer them more protection than they would otherwise have. This is no secret to the Fox News presenters and others who spread misinformation.

The preventive measures to forestall the pandemic – especially vaccinations and masks – are well known. Most people take them, but too many don’t and they slow or delay progress.

This has been the case since the beginning of 2020, so the question is justified: why keep talking about it? Yes, there will likely always be a core that is not moving and, despite their protest, they are becoming increasingly socially isolated for everyone’s protection. The following is important when complaining about being denied certain things: That is your choice.

But it is clear that some less stubborn skeptics can be persuaded to accept the reality, as increased vaccination rates and mandate acceptance suggest. Hitting Home the Truth – by repeating the dire stats and information on how to avoid it – should never grow old.

What never seems to get old are movements that are difficult to see through. The latest flagship for this is Centner Academy in Miami, which displayed dangerous idiocy, meanness, or both.

The school sent parents a letter stating that students receiving COVID-19 vaccinations must be quarantined at home for 30 days after each vaccination. As of now, only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for children 12 years and older. This vaccine requires two doses, which means a fully vaccinated student would miss school for 60 days.

“The letter also urged parents to ‘wait’ until the summer to vaccinate their children until the potential transmission or transmission to others subsides, ‘” a Business Insider report said.

The school said because children were vaccinated they could infect other students – a claim that has been thoroughly refuted. As? None of the approved vaccines contain the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

“What nonsense is that?” Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at Florida International University, told WSVN. “They made that up. This is science fiction – not even science fiction because it’s pure fiction. “

This is some Flat Earth Society stuff.

Though not as strict, there is a questionable verdict in the local area. On October 18, some children in San Diego and across the state were held out of class by their parents to protest school vaccination regulations. There were hundreds in San Diego County, thousands across the state. Looking forward, more than 500,000 children in San Diego County and nearly 7 million across California are enrolled in K-12 schools.

Parents who joined the protest said they refuse to be banned from making such an important health decision for their children, who, it has been repeatedly pointed out, already require a handful of vaccinations to attend public school.

But if they say they are denied the right to vote, that is wrong. Some protesting parents said they could homeschool their children instead of letting them get the COVID-19 vaccination. Here, too, the choice is there.

As Kristen Taketa of the San Diego Union-Tribune noted, “The school protests have had a dual impact, some district officials said. Not only have students missed studying when they skip school, but their schools receive less government funding because it is based on student attendance. “

All San Diego Unified School District staff and students and students 16 and older must be vaccinated by December 20th. About 69 percent of San Diego County’s teenagers aged 12 and over have already been vaccinated against COVID, Taketa added.

In a separate story, Taketa reported that data suggests that the county’s schools are better at minimizing COVID cases than the general population.

At the Clovis School Committee meeting, a dozen adults took turns calling the board “ridiculous” and urging the trustees to “take control” and let parents choose whether or not to vaccinate their child, Fresno said Bee.

In between, high school graduate Rami Zwebti stepped onto the podium to argue for the wearing of masks and vaccinations while making some pointed comments about the people in the audience. Noting that protests against masks and vaccination regulations had become violent elsewhere, he added, “I hope the people in this room are mature enough not to act like that.”

Rami received a slap in the face from parents and parishioners and left the room after speaking.

Clovis Unified School District superintendent Eimear O’Brien later told the bee that members of the school administration and police “intervened immediately last night to make sure our student knew our team was there to (Rami) to protect and support). “

Just another day in American education.

Tweet of the week

Jeremy B. White (@JeremyBWhite) from Politico on Thursday.

“We are now on the third day of the in-n-out messaging cycle.”

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Families with kids at high risk for COVID-19 patiently awaiting vaccine | Coronavirus in Arizona

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PHOENIX (3TV / CBS 5) – A panel of vaccine experts will meet in early November to consider whether to recommend the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children under the age of 12.

If approved, vaccinations could begin in early November. That means some children could be fully protected by Christmas. This is a major turning point for families with children who are at high risk.

Cherrie Lonkar is the mother of six children, three of whom have developmental disabilities. She is also the managing director of Branching Out Family Services.

“COVID has hit the disabled community really hard,” said Lonkar. “The overarching message we received is that families are really excited to be able to protect their children who are already so vulnerable.”

The company she works for provides coaching and counseling for families in the community with special needs. “We work with over 1,500 children every year,” said Lonkar. “For the families who want to get the vaccine for their children, we really wanted to see this.”

Lonkar said many families with children at high risk for COVID-19 had a difficult time during the pandemic. “You really saw how difficult it was for a family that needed so much outside help to look after these children when one parent got sick,” said Lonkar.



Thorne said if you have a child with a disability and are unsure about the vaccine, the best place to go is your doctor.



Michele Thorne is a member of the Arizona Development Disabilities Planning Council. She said some families should have been extra careful to avoid bringing the virus home. “I don’t think a lot of people realize that families with really medically vulnerable children are still living in isolation and living it all the time,” Thorne said.

In addition, many families have been pushed out of their norm. “Your kids are likely going to telemedicine appointments because they don’t want therapists in their homes,” Thorne said.

While getting the vaccine if approved will be a choice, Lonkar said she was ready for a sense of security. “As we enter the cold and flu season, the risks and need for protection for our children, our medically impaired and non-verbal children, are kind of increasing,” said Lonkar. “I know a lot of people look forward to leaving those fears behind.”

It is now a wait and see if the vaccine will be approved for this age group. Thorne said if you have a child with a disability and are unsure about the vaccine, the best place to go is your doctor.

State health officials tell the Arizona family that more than 900 providers in Arizona are ready to give syringes to children, and that number doesn’t include pharmacies. They estimate Arizona will receive 225,000 doses of the “Pfizer Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccine” in the first week it becomes available. To put that number in perspective, health officials say there are approximately 645,000 children between the ages of five and eleven who are eligible in Arizona.

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