With the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic this week, concerns of being exposed is increasing. Many employees in North Texas are wondering what their best course of action is and how they can avoid contracting the virus. Working from home is not a fundamental right even under the Americans with Disabilities Act, however the United State has a number of workplace safety regulations that employers must follow.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that employers establish “nonpunitive” policies, encouraging employees who are sick or exhibiting symptoms to stay at home. Employers that make workers with coronavirus come in may be violating Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA] regulations. OSHA requires employers to provide a work environment "free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm."
Specific OSHA requirements give employees the right to:
- Access “required safety gear” such as sanitizer or face masks
- Report a work-related illness or injury
- Be alerted to workplace illness/injury
Health officials have not only warned to avoid countries hit hard by the coronavirus, but also suggested postponing nonessential business travel. Major corporations such as Amazon and Twitter have already implemented travel restrictions in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.
In summary, you will probably still need to go into the office and go on that business trip the boss wants you to take. If the outbreak worsens and public officials declare a state of emergency, things could change.
The best defense against the coronavirus is to educate yourself and take logical protective steps.
What is the Coronavirus?
The Coronavirus is a new strain of infectious viruses that can range from a common cold to a severe and life-ending respiratory infection. This type of virus first appeared in China in 2003 (SARS-CoV) and transmitted from cats to humans. It has now mutated into the Coronavirus and first made its debut in December 2019. The first reported case occurred in Wuhan after someone allegedly consumed a live animal and fell sick. The disease quickly spread to family and friends and is now present around the world.
What are the Main Symptoms?
A cough, runny nose, shortness of breath and fever rank at the top of the warning signs. Medical attention is always highly recommended when symptoms such as these gather and take an evident physical toll on your health. The virus can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure.
How Does the Coronavirus Spread?
Coronavirus can spread from person to person through small particles from the nose or mouth when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. It is important to stay more than three feet away from a person who is sick.
Who is at the Greatest Risk?
While we are still learning about how COVID-2019 affects people, older individuals and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.
How Long is the Incubation Period for the Coronavirus?
The incubation period means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for the coronavirus range from one - 14 days, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.
How Can I Prevent the Coronavirus?
Hygiene is first and foremost when preventing infectious diseases. Here are other actions you can take:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Avoid close contact
- Stay home if you are sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
At Parker Law Firm, our experienced personal injury lawyers believe people matter. We are committed to our clients, not case numbers, and we believe in the power of the civil justice system. With years spent both representing accident victims and participating in the state legislative process, our founder, Brad Parker, has developed a deep understanding of the law and gained unique experience that helps him get results for his clients.