COVID-19

COVID-19

Have a question about coronavirus, also known as COVID-19?

What do you need to know?

We will ask the experts.

Send questions to tribdem@tribdem.com.

• • • • • 

"Is anyone identifying persons who had contact with the COVID-19 infected? These contacts should be self-quarantined."

The answer:

"We identify those who were exposed, use the Pa. Department of Health Risk Assessment, and follow Pa Department of Health guidelines and recommendations.

"Regarding self quarantine: Yes, and again based upon the Pa. Department of Health risk assessment and following Pa. Department of Health guidelines and recommendations."

– Dr. David Csikos, Chief Medical Officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health website can be found at health.pa.gov.

On this topic, the DOH says:

• Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Isolation is usually voluntary, but in an emergency, officials have the authority to isolate people who are sick.

• Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. Quarantined people may or may not become sick; but separating them from those who were never exposed helps prevent the spread of the disease. Quarantine can be voluntary, but in an emergency, officials have the authority to quarantine people who have been exposed to an infectious disease.

• • • • •

"If someone gets the virus and recovers, is that person immune from the virus and probably won't get it again?"

The answer:

The Los Angeles Times reports that China has seen more than 100 cases of individuals being released from hospitals and later testing positive for the coronavirus a second time. A man, 36, died five days after being declared virus-free and discharged. 

Keiji Fukuda, director of Hong Kong University’s School of Public Health, said the likely reasons are testing errors and patients leaving hospitals too soon.

“If you get an infection, your immune system is revved up against that virus,” Fukuda said. “To get reinfected again when you’re in that situation would be quite unusual unless your immune system was not functioning right.”

– Los Angeles Times reports

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"If someone has traveled to a known hot spot for COVID-19 in a state such as California or Washington or out of the country, how are other employees and clients protected if an employee refuses to do a self-quarantine after travel and/or contact with potential COVID-19 risk factors and continues to come in contact with people at the workplace?"

The answer:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, outlining steps employers can take to help protect their workforce. OSHA has divided workplaces and work operations into four risk zones, according to the likelihood of employees’ occupational exposure during a pandemic. These different classifications can inform employers on how to treat their workplace during this pandemic.

Employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace to all employees, this includes exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. Employers should be understandably concerned about providing a safe environment for their employees and, as such, may ask employees about the areas they have recently traveled to and if they may have had any exposure to COVID-19.

If an employer concludes that an employee may pose a health threat to other employees, the employer can require that the employee stay home for the duration of the COVID-19 incubation period, which has generally been assigned as 14 days. They can also ask employees to seek medical attention and/or get tested for COVID-19, but cannot require them to do so. The employer also has no obligation to report a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 to the local, state, or federal health departments. Only healthcare providers that receive confirmation of a positive test are mandatory reporters.

In short, the employer cannot require the employee to self-isolate, but must take steps to protect other employees from any potential exposure, including sending the potentially infected employee home.

Here is a link to some more helpful information that was recently published by my law firm: https://www.muslaw.com/covid-19-update-mitigation-of-employment-law-risks/

– Katelin Montgomery, associate attorney with the law firm Meyer, Unkovic and Scott LLP, in Pittsburgh.

• • • • •

“Can a person have coronavirus and flu virus simultaneously?”

The answer:

“It is possible to get two infections at the same time. For example, you can have a common cold, from a virus, and that can lead to a bacterial infection in the sinuses. Yes, you can get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. It is recommended that if you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet that you do so now. It won’t protect you from COVID-19, but it will keep you from getting the flu.

“Symptoms are similar for both illnesses with the major difference being that COVID-19 causes shortness of breath due to the viral pneumonia.”

– Jill D. Henning, Ph.D., associate professor of biology at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

Have a question about coronavirus, also known as COVID-19? Send questions to tribdem@tribdem.com.

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