COVID-19

What employers need to know about the coronavirus

David Brancaccio and Rose Conlon Feb 10, 2020
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Oli Scarff/Getty Images
COVID-19

What employers need to know about the coronavirus

David Brancaccio and Rose Conlon Feb 10, 2020
Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Share Now on:
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As efforts to contain the coronavirus continue around the world, companies are thinking about how to reduce the risk to their workforce.

It’s a good time for employers to be diligent about addressing illness prevention in the workplace, according to Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University.

“There are a couple of things that really are important, from a legal perspective. You don’t want to negligently or knowingly expose your workforce to a novel infection like a coronavirus,” Gostin told Marketplace’s David Brancaccio.

Gostin said employers should be proactive about protecting employee health, especially if they have an office in China or if employees have recently traveled there.

That means having more conversations about health with everyone, and encouraging workers to take a sick day or work from home if they need to.

Gostin emphasized that this doesn’t mean having these conversations with only some employees or engaging in racial stereotyping.

“Sometimes disease epidemics bring out the worst in us. You should never make special arrangements or single people out based on their nationality or their race,” said Gostin.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Which businesses are allowed to reopen right now? And which businesses are actually doing so?

As a patchwork of states start to reopen, businesses that fall into a gray area are wondering when they can reopen. In many places, salons are still shuttered. Bars are mostly closed, too, although restaurants may be allowed to ramp up, depending on the state. “It’s kind of all over the place,” said Elizabeth Milito of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Will you be able to go on vacation this summer?

There’s no chance that this summer will be a normal season for vacations either in the U.S. or internationally. But that doesn’t mean a trip will be impossible. People will just have to be smart about it. That could mean vacations closer to home, especially with gas prices so low. Air travel will be possible this summer, even if it is a very different experience than usual.

When does the expanded COVID-19 unemployment insurance run out?

The CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March, authorized extra unemployment payments, increasing the amount of money, and broadening who qualifies. The increased unemployment benefits have an expiration date — an extra $600 per week the act authorized ends on July 31.

You can find answers to more questions here.

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