On March 10, 2020, two Michigan residents tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). One case as an adult female from Oakland County who had recently traveled internationally. The other is an adult male from Wayne County who recently traveled within the United States.
In response, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency. Gov. Witmer and her coronavirus task force will be meeting today to finalize the State’s response to the virus. Before these confirmed cases, Governor Whitmer had created for taskforces focused on education, Health and Human Services, the economy and workforce, and state government in preparation for a potential COVID-19 outbreak.
Jay Greene of Crain’s Detroit reported that Michigan officials have advised businesses, schools, and universities that they should be making plans for mitigating the spread of the virus, which will likely continue in Michigan. As a reminder, COVID-19 symptoms may appear between two days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus. The symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Government Coronavirus Information and Resources
In addition to Michigan Government’s response to COVID-19, various federal government agencies have provided guidance specific to employers and workers for responding and dealing with the coronavirus:
- The United States Department of Labor provided this statement and resource page for employers and workers about the coronavirus.
- The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided this coronavirus resource page for healthcare professionals.
- The CDC also provided this resource page providing guidance for businesses and
Employers about responding to the coronavirus outbreak. Importantly, the CDC has told employers they should encourage sick employers to stay home.
What Should Your Business Do Right Now
As someone who has been following the coronavirus outbreak, one frustration has been the conflicting and, sometimes, dishonest representation of the viral outbreak.
To minimize such confusion, we are advising our business clients to designate a point person who will keep abreast of coronavirus developments. This person should follow reputable and vetted sources, in addition to monitoring official state and federal governmental resources. The focus should be staying on top of updates and best practices for mitigating the spread of the coronavirus, as well as minimizing the risk to your company. With the right understanding, you will then be able to orientate your company down a path for successfully responding to this epidemic.
Building on this last point, your company’s point person should regularly communicate with management and employees regarding these issues, and follow up with outside legal counsel as may be needed to address specific compliance or legal issues relating to the virus.
As it increasingly becomes apparent that the coronavirus will continue to adversely affect workers and businesses with no near-term solutions, you should be prepared to confront a range of legal and business operations challenges. Our goal in the coming days and weeks is to provide continued updates and recommendations for maintaining a safe workplace and meeting employment law obligations. For continued updates on this and other employment law matters, please subscribe to this publication. For specific questions, use this link to contact Michigan attorney Jason Shinn.