At the present time there are a total of 11,650,817 COVID-19 cases and 251,715 related deaths in the United States. CDC COVID Data Tracker (Updated November 20, 2020 12:16 PM). Currently, the vast majority of states have businesses which are mostly open, 12 indicated as mixed and only 4 states listed as mostly closed. New York Times Coronavirus Restrictions for All 50 States (Updated November 20, 2020). Even as case counts continue to rise, employees are reporting an increase in return to the workplace since the beginning of the pandemic. COVID-19 and Remote Work: An Update.
With open businesses and a workforce returning to the office, employers face challenges relative to protecting their employees and potential risks and exposure in the event an employee becomes ill with COVID-19. Most all states have attempted to provide guidance to employers and, in some instances, impose safety requirements in efforts to protect workers.
At the federal level, most notably, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) was one of the first entities to issue guidance to workplaces and businesses. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also issued guidelines on preparing workplaces for COVID-19.
However, at the state level, there is wide jurisdictional variance related to guidelines and requirements of employers – and much like the pandemic itself – these are in a constant state of flux. There's little uniformity. Requirements by state are literally and figurately “all over the map.” Some states simply reference the CDC workplace guidelines without any further recommendations, others have implemented more detailed guidance, and some have gone even further to enact executive orders or regulations mandating specific requirements. Certain jurisdictions have issued mandates for employers to develop a written COVID-19 prevention plan, which include, among other things, training and testing for certain types of workers. Michigan is one such state that requires employers to make COVID preparedness and response plans. Recently, California is considering issuing similar robust safety standards for employers.
This author aggregated links to each state's website for COVID workplace guidance / requirements. Please be advised, however, that the information is subject to change. Moreover, it is highly recommended to seek advice from an applicable regulator or licensed and qualified attorney in a particular jurisdiction should you have questions about your state's COVID workplace requirements.
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise it will be of great interest for the workers' compensation community to monitor how states are responding relative to guidance and/or requirements of businesses and employers.