Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Coronavirus Update 3-18-2020: “Gag and vote for it anyway,” and an EEOC update

It looks like the Families First Coronavirus Response Act is one step closer to becoming law … just not quite yet.

During a lunch meeting of Senate Republicans yesterday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his constituency they should pass the bill. He did so, however, in the most Mitch McConnell way possible.

A number of my members think there were considerable shortcomings in the House bill. My counsel to them is to gag and vote for it anyway.

To his credit, McConnell added that he wanted “to reassure the people around the country that we can operate on a bicameral, bipartisan basis quickly.” He promised that the Senate would take up the House bill on Tuesday.

And then Rand Paul happened.

Senators were heading toward a vote Tuesday on the package … but they had to slam on the brakes because of an amendment Paul proposed. 
The sources said Paul is forcing a vote on his amendment, which would “require a social security number for purposes of the child tax credit, and to provide the President the authority to transfer funds as necessary, and to terminate United States military operations and reconstruction activities in Afghanistan.”

Seriously Rand? Way to play politics and stall this bill, even for 24 hours. Paul’s amendment is expected to fail spectacularly, clearing the way for the Senate to pass the FFCRA later on Wednesday or Thursday, and send the bill to President Trump for his expected signature.

Coronavirus news literally is developing by the minute, and this news is subject to change. To receive updates on these and other breaking issues, please bookmark the Ohio Coronavirus Blog, and, if you don’t already subscribe, do so by RSS or email.

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In other news, the EEOC released updated guidance on What You Should Know About the ADA and COVID-19. It covers a host of questions about handling employees who have or may have been exposed to coronavirus.

In summary:

  • Employers may ask employees if they are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, including fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat.

  • Employers may measure employees’ body temperature, but should be aware that some people with coronavirus do not have a fever.

  • Employees who become ill with symptoms of coronavirus should leave the workplace and not return until they are symptom-free for at least 24 hours.

  • When employees return to work, employers are allowed to require doctors’ notes certifying their fitness for duty. Please note, however, that doctors and other health care professionals may be too busy dealing with this crisis to provide timely and complete fitness-for-duty documentation. Therefore, the EEOC recommends reliance on local clinics to provide a form, a stamp, or an email to certify that an individual does not have coronavirus, while the CDC adds that employers “should not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick … to validate their illness or to return to work.”