Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently updated its COVID-19 response plan. Last year, OSHA focused much of its COVID-19 related attention on healthcare, elderly care, and prisons. This new Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan for COVID-19 and National Emphasis Program — Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) guidance shifts its focus to other industries where OSHA feels there could be spread of COVID-19. As part of the guidance, OSHA specifically targeted full-service and limited-service restaurants for inspections.

Continue Reading Recent OSHA Update Targets Restaurant Industry

On December 2nd, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance on the length of quarantine required for an individual who is asymptomatic but was in close contact with someone with COVID-19. The prior guidance required quarantine for 14 days (other than for critical infrastructure workers). The new guidance allows for quarantine to end 10 days after exposure or 7 days after exposure when combined with a negative test. The test can be taken within 48 hours of the end of the quarantine period, i.e. as early as day 5. The key factor is that the individual remains asymptomatic during the entire quarantine period.

This updated guidance is outlined in the chart below which addresses return to work scenarios under the current CDC guidance.


Continue Reading Updated CDC Guidance on Quarantine Length for Exposed Individuals Who Are Asymptomatic

On October 21st, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance on what constitutes “close contact” with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 for purposes of isolation. “Close contact” had been within 6 feet for a 15 minute period. It has now been revised to be within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes over a 24 hour period which greatly expands what may qualify. The CDC also provides some examples of factors that should be considered when evaluating the length and extent of the contact. This updated guidance is outlined in the chart below which addresses return to work scenarios under the current CDC guidance.

Continue Reading CDC Updates Guidance on Return to Work

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, detailed arrangements, procedures, and protocols have been designed and implemented to help assure the health and well-being of seafarers and passengers, while maintaining day-to-day operations of marine and offshore assets.

In a recent Maritime Executive article, authors Martin Petricic and Gareth Burton of ABS worked with Rear Admiral Joyce Johnson

Shortly after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, many states, counties, and cities issued stay-at-home or shelter-in-place (collectively, SIP) orders to combat the spread of the virus. Please click here to review the early impacts of these sweeping orders.

In recent weeks, many authorities have issued executive orders to address rising COVID-19 cases as state and local businesses begin to reopen. This update focuses on these most recent orders and any impacts the orders could have on new and ongoing construction projects in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

As with all the effects of COVID-19, the issuance, interpretation, and enforcement of these orders are fast-breaking and in constant flux.


Continue Reading Executive Orders to Address Rising COVID-19 Cases in the Construction Industry

As part of an ongoing effort by the IRS to provide employers and employees with flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS recently issued notices 2020-29 and 2020-33, providing relief with respect to “cafeteria plans,” health flexible spending accounts (Health FSAs), dependent care assistance programs (DCAPs), and high deductible health plans (HDHPs). The relief applies to all employees who are eligible to participate in such plans, regardless of whether they are actually affected by COVID-19. Below is a summary of key aspects of the guidance and practical issues to consider.

Continue Reading IRS Temporarily Relaxes Cafeteria Plan Midyear Election Change and FSA Rules and Provides Other Employee Benefit Relief

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has pushed telehealth and mHealth to center stage as healthcare providers of all sizes look to provide care on virtual platforms. But the emergency – and the legislative and policy measures enacted to deal with it – won’t last forever. Nadia de la Houssaye contributed to a mHeathIntelligence roundup of experts

Recent congressional action has included significant additional funding for healthcare providers. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act), the massive stimulus legislation passed on March 27, appropriated $100 billion to the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (the Relief Fund) to be distributed to hospitals and healthcare providers on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. This was followed on April 24 by an additional $75 billion appropriated for healthcare providers under the Paycheck Protection Program and the Health Care Enhancement Act. In addition, the CARES Act expanded the existing Medicare accelerated and advance payment programs (AAP Programs) to allow qualified hospitals and other providers to obtain, as a lump sum or in periodic payments, up to six months of advance Medicare payments (based on prior-period experience) as a loan to stabilize cash flow.

So, what has actually happened with this new funding in the ensuing weeks? The following sections summarize what we know so far.


Continue Reading CARES Act Funds for Hospitals and Other Providers: Where We Are Now?

On June 15, 2020, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (FRBB) announced that the Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) is now open for lender registration and encouraged eligible lenders to start making MSLP loans “immediately.” The MSLP is not yet fully operational, as the Federal Reserve’s special purpose vehicle (Main Street SPV) is not ready to purchase participations from lenders under the program; however, it is anticipated that the FRBB will open its loan intake portal in the coming days.

Accordingly, eligible lenders that propose to make loans under one or more of the MSLP facilities (the Main Street New Loan Facility (MSNLF), the Main Street Priority Loan Facility (MSPLF), and the Main Street Expanded Loan Facility (MSELF)) should now register for the MSLP in order to avoid delay in their participation in loans to the Main Street SPV once the loan intake portal opens. A link to the FRBB’s lender registration page is here.


Continue Reading Main Street Lending Program Now Open for Lender Registration

As businesses attempt to navigate the post-COVID-19 landscape, one issue of concern is the possibility of claims for alleged COVID-19 exposure being brought by both customers and employees. These concerns have been complicated by the often conflicting guidance or requirements being placed on businesses from local, state, and federal governments or agencies. While there is ongoing discussion at the federal level of legislation to provide some liability protections for businesses in certain circumstances, several states are stepping into the void and enacting legislation of their own. Louisiana has now followed Oklahoma, North Carolina, and several other states in enacting legislation that grants liability protections for businesses from these type of claims.

Continue Reading New Louisiana Law Grants COVID-19 Liability Protection to Businesses