• COVID-19 Update

    COVID-19 Update

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published an alert listing safety tips employers can follow to help protect retail workers from exposure to coronavirus.
    Safety measures employers can implement to protect employees working in pharmacies, supermarkets, big box stores and other retail establishments include:
    §  Routinely cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and equipment with Environmental Protection Agency-approved cleaning chemicals from List N or that have label claims against the coronavirus;
    §  Using a drive-through window or offering curbside pick-up;
    §  Recommending that workers wear masks over their nose and mouth to prevent them from spreading the virus; and 
    §  Practicing sensible social distancing, which could include opening only every other cash register, temporarily moving workstations to create more distance and installing plexiglass partitions between workstations.
    The new alert is available for download at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3996.pdf.
    In addition, OSHA issued a reminder to employers that it is illegal to retaliate against workers because they report unsafe or unhealthful working conditions during COVID-19. OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program webpage provides valuable resources on worker rights, including fact sheets on whistleblower protections for employees in various industries and frequently asked questions.
    For more information about COVID-19, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. For department resources on COVID-19, please visit: https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus

    More than 2 million people have been tested for COVID-19 in the United States.  Currently, about 118,000 to 120,000 people are being tested per day.
    President Trump announced that, through the FDA’s Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program, 19 therapies and treatments are now being tested, and 26 more are in active planning for clinical trials.
    Vice President Pence announced that $125 billion in forgivable loans have been approved through the Paycheck Protection Program.
    6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week; in total, more than 16 million people have filed for unemployment in the past three weeks. (Here)
    The Federal Reserve announced that it will take actions to provide up to $2.3 trillion in loans to support the economy, including bolstering the effectiveness of the Paycheck Protection Program by supplying liquidity to participating financial institutions, purchasing up to $600 billion in loans through the Main Street Lending Program, offering up to $500 billion in lending to states and municipalities, and more. (Here)
    The Department of Education announced that more than $6 billion will be distributed immediately to colleges and universities to provide direct emergency cash grants to college students.  The funding is available through the CARES Act.  (Here)
    HHS and FEMA released information regarding the optional transition of federal community-based testing sites to state management.  Under state control, CBTS sites would still receive technical assistance from the federal government and be able to request supplies through the normal FEMA systems.  (Here)
    NIH began a trial today to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of adults hospitalized with COVID-19, with the first participants now enrolled in Tennessee.  (Here)
    An NIAID-funded research team developed a microneedle vaccine candidate for the virus that causes COVID-19.  If successful, the components of the experimental vaccine could be made quickly and at large-scale.  The final product also doesn’t require refrigeration.  The research team hopes to launch a phase 1 trial within the next several months.  (Here)
    CMS temporarily suspended a number of rules so that health care practitioners can be hired quickly and perform work to the fullest extent of their licenses, including that doctors can directly care for patients at rural hospitals, across state lines if necessary, without having to be physically present, nurse practitioners may perform some medical exams on Medicare patients at skilled nursing facilities, and more.  (Here
    CMS has delivered more than $51 billion in accelerated/advance payment program requests.  CMS has approved over 21,000 of the 32,000 requests it has received from providers and suppliers seeking accelerated and advance payments.  (Here)
    CDC updated guidance on safety practices for critical infrastructure workers who may have had exposure to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.  (Here)
    FDA issued information and best practices for retail food stores, restaurants, and pick-up and delivery services to protect both workers and customers.  (Here)
    HHS Office of Civil Rights announced that it will exercise enforcement discretion and will not impose penalties for violations of the HIPAA Rules against covered entities or business associates in connection with the good faith participation in the operation of COVID-19 testing sites during the public health emergency.  (Here)
    Pfizer announced that it has identified a potential antiviral to combat COVID-19; the potential therapeutic blocks a key enzyme viruses need to replicate.  (Here)


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