On February 9, 2022, California Governor Newsom signed SB 114 into law, reinstituting COVID-19 sick leave for 2022 (“2022 COVID-19 Sick Leave”). 2022 COVID-19 Sick Leave applies to employers with more than 25 employees and becomes effective February 19, 2022. Notably, the 2022 COVID-19 Sick Leave is retroactive to January 1, 2022. It will expire on September 30, 2022.
New FAQs Require Group Health Plans and Issuers to Cover OTC COVID-19 Tests
This week, the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services and the Treasury issued a new set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) confirming that group health plans and issuers must provide 100% coverage of over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 diagnostic tests beginning January 15, 2022.
The FAQs are further interpretation of the coverage mandate required by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), as amended by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Under this new guidance, 100% of the cost for COVID-19 tests purchased by an individual for diagnostic purposes on or after January 15, 2022, must be covered without cost-sharing or medical management requirements—even if the test was purchased OTC without a provider prescription or clinical assessment. This requirement continues for the duration of the national public health emergency.…
The Supreme Court Stays OSHA Rule Requiring Vaccination or Testing for Most Private Employers
Near the end of 2021, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) issued the Emergency Temporary Standard (the ETS), which required employers with 100 or more employees to put in place a mandatory vaccination policy or require weekly COVID-19 testing and mask wearing by unvaccinated or partially vaccinated employees. On November 5, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stayed enforcement and application of the vaccine mandate; this stay was dissolved by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on December 17, 2021. See the discussion of these rulings here and here. Thereafter, the United States Supreme Court agreed to review the issue.
Cal/OSHA Updates FAQs Regarding Isolation and Quarantine
On January 6, 2022, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) released updated FAQs clarifying that the isolation and quarantine recommendations from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) (see post here) replace the exclusion periods and return-to-work criteria in the revised Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) approved by the OSHA Board on December 16, 2021. A link to guidance regarding the revised ETS, which takes effect on January 14, is available here.…
California State and Local Governments and Health Authorities Continue Updating COVID-19 Guidance and Recommendations
As the COVID-19 landscape evolves and the Omicron variant pervades, state and local governments and health authorities have modified their recommendations, guidance, and regulations in an effort to manage the pandemic.
For example, on December 30, 2021, following the CDC’s December 27, 2021, changes to its quarantine and isolation recommendations, the California Department of Public…
CDC Revises Guidance on Quarantine, Isolation, and Booster Shots
The CDC recently updated its guidelines on, among other things, quarantine and isolation periods and recommendations regarding booster shots. Below is a high-level summary of some of these changes.
At the end of December 2021, the CDC updated its guidance regarding quarantine and isolation. A media statement from the CDC regarding its updates can be found here. Some of the biggest changes from the December recommendations involved the following:
- Reducing isolation for those with COVID-19 to five days followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others.
- Revising quarantine periods, including:
- For unvaccinated individuals, individuals who completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna over five months ago and are not boosted, or individuals who completed J&J over two months ago and are not boosted, quarantine five days followed by “strict mask use” for five days.
- If quarantine is “not feasible,” wear a “well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure.”
- Individuals who have received booster shots do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask for 10 days after exposure.
CDC Shortens the Recommended Isolation and Quarantine Period
In an updated guidance released on December 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reduced the recommended isolation and quarantine period for the general population. The term “isolation” refers to the recommended behavior after a confirmed COVID-19 infection, while “quarantine” is the term that applies to the period following a person’s exposure to the virus or close contact with someone who has COVID-19. According to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Omicron variant is spreading quickly, and the “CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses.”…
Sixth Circuit Grants the Biden Administration’s Motion to Dissolve the Stay of the OSHA Vaccine ETS
On December 17, 2021, the Sixth Circuit granted the Biden Administration’s motion to Dissolve the Stay of the OSHA Vaccine ETS, which was issued by the Fifth Circuit on November 5, 2021. See link to full opinion. Judge Stranch (an Obama appointee) authored the opinion, which Judge Gibbons (a Bush appointee) joined. Judge Larsen…
Cal/OSHA Revises COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards to Remove Distinctions for Vaccinated Workers
The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Board) readopted a revised version of its earlier Emergency Temporary Standards (Standard) for employers on preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace on December 16, 2021. The revised Standard was readopted by a 6-1 vote in the form proposed by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Division) and will take effect on January 14, 2022, for a period of 90 days. …
EEOC Updates Its COVID-19 Related Guidance
On December 14, 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its guidance to affirm that workers who contract COVID-19 can be protected from discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Depending on an individual employee’s specific circumstances, COVID-19 may constitute a protected physical or mental disability, may serve as the basis for an employer’s perception that an employee has a disability, and/or may contribute to a record of employee impairment.…