Excerpted from Forbes by Alonzo Martinez

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have labeled COVID-19 (the coronavirus) as a public health emergency. With anxiety surging following the pervasive coverage of the spread of the coronavirus, employers must prepare to address the concerns of their workers.

By the Numbers

As of this report, the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus has grown globally to near 90,000, with over 40 infected in the United States. The reproductive rate, or “R naught” of the virus, is estimated at 2.28, meaning that for every single infected person, 2.28 secondary cases could occur, with a mortality rate of approximately 2.3%. According to the CDC, the primary transmission of the coronavirus appears to be by respiratory means, with symptoms occurring 2-14 days after exposure. Of note, the CDC reports a low health risk for Americans, with the disease not currently spreading amongst the U.S. population.

An Employer’s Duty of Care

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was passed to help ensure safe and healthful working conditions for American workers. The Act’s “General Duty Clause” requires that employers provide “employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause the death or serious physical harm to [its] employees.”

Seeing as the transmission of the coronavirus generally occurs via respiratory means from close personal contact with others, employers in the U.S. have a duty to devise and implement a plan that keeps their workers safe from the disease.
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