Governor Parson Announces Missouri Fully Reopens, Phase 2 Begins June 16, 2020
Guidance For Visitations Transitions at Missouri Long-Term Care Facilities (Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, June 15, 2020)
“Show-me Strong” – Gov Parson Recovery Plan
“Show Me Strong” FAQs
Resource Guide to Safely Reopening Municipal Facilities (National League of Cities)
Missouri COVID-19 Dashboard (overview, statistics, demographics)
Missouri Economic Recovery Dashboard
Governor Parson was joined today by Missouri Department of Economic Development Director Rob Dixon to share more details about the state’s recovery plans as well as a new economic recovery dashboard.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Issues Additional Reopening Guidance to Assist State, Local, and Tribal Leaders:
TheCDC has issued a set of health considerations to be used by summer camps, schools, youth sports organizations, institutes of higher education, contact tracing resources and restaurants and bars, that are open. Decisions and strategies about how to operate are implemented at the state, tribal, local, and territorial levels because every locale is different, and individual jurisdictions have the authority and local awareness needed to protect their communities.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a new document entitled, Guidance on Returning to Work. The material specifically addresses prevention strategies that non-essential business may employ to combat COVID-19.
This guidance is intended to supplement the previously developed Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, jointly issued by U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the White House Guidelines for Opening up America Again.
For further information and resources about the coronavirus disease, please visit OSHA’s coronavirus webpage.
Home Energy Assistance Program
Release of $15 million to Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program doubles summer benefit amount to help more Missourians during Phase 2 of Recovery Plan
The Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) announced additional funding of $15 million for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program that helps low-income Missourians with payments for their summer cooling bills from June 1 through September 30, 2020. The additional dollars double the maximum benefit amount to $600 and allows DSS to serve the needs of a greater number of Missourians who are now facing a crisis. To be eligible for the program, low-income Missourians must:
- Be responsible for paying home cooling costs,
- Have $3,000 or less in bank accounts, retirement accounts, or investments,
- Have a household income of 135 percent or less of the federal poverty level (a monthly income of $2,400 for a family of three or $2,897 for a family of four) and,
- Be a U.S. citizen or legally admitted for permanent residence.
Missouri Reopening FAQ’s
The following two FAQs are from the Missouri Department of Health and Service Services. Find their full guide, sorted by topic.
If employees have been exposed to Covid 19 but are not showing symptoms, should I allow them to work?
Employees may have been exposed if they are a “close contact” of someone who is infected, which is defined as being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time:
Potentially exposed employees who have symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isolate and follow CDC recommended steps.
Potentially exposed employees who do not have symptoms should remain at home or in a comparable setting and practice social distancing for 14 days.
All other employees should self-monitor for symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath. If they develop symptoms, they should notify their supervisor and stay home.
To ensure continuity of operations of essential functions, CDC advises that critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain symptom-free and additional precautions are taken to protect them and the community.
When should an employee suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 return to work?
Sick employees should follow steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick. Employees should not return to work until they meet the criteria to discontinue home isolation and have consulted with a healthcare provider and state or local health department. Employers should not require a sick employee to provide a negative COVID-19 test result or healthcare provider’s note to return to work. Employees with COVID-19 who have stayed home can stop home isolation and return to work when they have met one of the following sets of criteria:
Option 1: If, in consultation with a healthcare provider and local public health authorities knowledgeable about locally available testing resources, it is determined an employee will not have a test to determine if they are still contagious, the employee can leave home and return to work after these three conditions have been met;
Option 2: If, in consultation with a healthcare provider and local public health authorities knowledgeable about locally available testing resources, it is determined the employee will be tested to determine if the employee is still contagious, the employee can leave home after these three conditions have been met:
- The employee no longer has a fever (without the use of medicine that reduces fevers)ANDrespiratory symptoms have improved (for example, cough or shortness of breath have improved)AND
- they received two negative tests in a row, at least 24 hours apart. Their doctor should follow CDC guidelines.
The employee has had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is, 3 full days of no fever without the use medicine that reduces fevers) AND
- respiratory symptoms have improved (for example, cough or shortness of breath have improved) AND
- at least 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared
The following FAQs are based on information provided by Ivan Schraeder with Schraeder Law Firm.
Can we require employees to have a COVID-19 test if we suspect they have been exposed?
There is no prohibition in any employment law or regulation that prohibits employers from requiring a negative test result for return to work for employees who may have exhibited symptoms or who have been exposed to COVID-19. However, MoDHSS and the CDC are discouraging solely relying on test results as a return to work measure. Instead, consultation with the local health department about self-isolation and symptoms depending on the circumstances is encouraged.
What obligations does a city have under HIPPA to protect information about employees who test positive for COVID-19?
The City has obligations under HIPAA to protect individualized employee health care information. However, there is no prohibition from reporting to the local health authority that the employer has employee(s) who have tested positive for COVID-19. The health authority will have protocols in place for handling these circumstances.
Is a city responsible for employees gossiping about a coworker who is on leave due COVID-19?
The city has to keep COVID-19 health related absences confidential just as it would for any other health related absences under HIPAA. What staff think or believe on their own is not the employer’s problems so long as the employer and its agents make no disclosures.
Can we require the public to wear masks when entering city hall?
The short answer is yes. The more detailed answer depends on how strict the city wants to be on enforcing this. Putting up a sign saying masks required due to the pandemic is ok and for most cities could be done with the mayor’s approval. As with any city policy, enforcement should be fair and uniform. Consideration should be given to potential health accommodations for those who cannot wear a mask. A sign and verbal requests from staff may be enough to encourage most citizens to wear a mask. Cities considering stricter enforcement of mask requirements are advised to consult their city attorney and would likely need to have council adopt an ordinance if fines are to be imposed as a penalty. Lastly, any city implementing such a mask requirement policy is reminded that if the public is expected to adhere to a policy it will behoove the city staff (and officials) to follow that policy just as strictly.
Can my local health authority impose requirements that are more restrictive?
Yes. Local health authorities may enforce more restrictive public health requirements for businesses or individuals than the state. The only exception is the Order from the Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services dated March 24, 2020, removing the authority of a local health authority from closing or restricting the operations of a business which is a part of the food supply, whether that be agricultural production, manufacturing, distribution, or sale of food. This limited waiver does not limit the authority of a local health authority from closing or restricting the operations of a retail food establishment.
What if my city wants to allow local businesses to open but our county plans to extend it’s Stay at Home order? Can the county impose stricter limits than what the city wants to allow?
Counties may enact stricter regulations than the state, and cities could enact stricter regulations than the county. A city government is not required to use city staff or resources to enforce the county orders on behalf of the county. However, a city does not have the authority to prohibit or prevent county health officials from enforcing the county’s health regulations within city limits due to overlapping jurisdiction. (Attorney Joseph Lauber was consulted on this answer.)
Lauber Municipal Law has prepared a circular detailing the policy implications for relaxing local social distancing in accordance with Governor Parson’s plan. That circular is linked here courtesy of Lauber Municipal Law.