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Contact Tracing and Logging

From The Desk of Richard Ollis - 5/20/2020 Update

(May 20, 2020) In our last communication, we focused on our return to work plans and policies that businesses should consider to protect their organization, their employees and their customers. Several areas are difficult and controversial (masks and travel) and each business should implement what works best for them. We’ll cover another “hot topic” in this communication – Contact Tracing and Logging. What does a business do when an employee or client contracts COVID?

Let me be clear, our stance is that every business should consider their unique situation and implement policies/procedures that make sense to them. We strongly advocate making a conscious and thoughtful decision. We also know that businesses will face legal challenges regarding employee, customer and health issues. If legal issues do occur, having considered and implemented prudent policies may help defend against potential suits. Unfortunately, it is the world we live in today.

Contact Tracing is a disease control measure that has been used by local and state health departments for decades. If someone contracts a disease, the process helps the patient recall everyone with whom they have been in close contact with during the time frame they have been infectious. To protect privacy, contacts are only informed that they have been exposed to a patient with infection. This contact should be performed by trained professionals and/or Public Health Officials who have specialized skills to make these contacts rapidly and in a sensitive manner. Identified contacts are then normally advised to stay home for 14 days in case they should become ill.

Now for the difficult and controversial decision – should your business require your employees to keep a log of business contacts (other employees, clients, etc.) each day to enable a more effective, accurate and quicker response if an infection should occur? I know, if you’re not already upset and frustrated, this will be sure to send you and others “over the top.”

If someone in your organization contracts COVID-19, what will your process be for notifying impacted employees? Will you disinfect the building and/or close for 72 hours to allow for deactivation of the virus? What are your protocols to ensure privacy and compliance with ADA, EEOC, etc. ? We are using a Post-Coronavirus Workplace Checklist as a guideline for ensuring our offices are as prepared as possible.

Our communities are “phasing” in the lessening of restrictions as we move towards June and beyond. The State of Missouri has an order; however, counties and municipalities can have orders that supersede the state. The strictest order applies.

The City of Springfield and Greene County have issued their Road to Recovery Plan. Essential businesses will operate as usual and non-essential business will continue to be “phased in.” This phased in approach has several key step-down dates beginning with May 23rd where most all non-essential businesses will have a 25% occupancy limit, except if the state order is stricter. Currently, the state order limits occupancy of 10,000 square feet or more on essential and non-essential retail operations to 10%, subject to change on June 1st. If the effort goes well without significant spikes in infection, on June 15th, most businesses will move to 50% occupancy. Public gatherings will be allowed for up to 50 people on both May 23rd and remain static on June 15th. Hopefully, July will bring lessened restrictions, maybe even moving completely away from governmental orders. Please see the most current order here.

Regardless of how we all feel about this, it is important to understand the options, consider them thoughtfully and implement policies and procedures that make sense for your business. Orders will be “stepping down” putting the responsibility (and legal liability) on businesses and individuals.

Ollis/Akers/Arney is ready to help. We’ve developed our Return to Work Plan and are working full-time from home and the office as we “phase in” our staff at our physical locations. Whether you’d like an insurance coverage analysis, COVID policy/procedure assistance or would just like to discuss options – we have the professional staff to deliver.

With appreciation,

Richard Ollis

Ollis/Akers/Arney Insurance & Business Advisors | 417-881-8333
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