Source: Christopher Carlsten, Mridu Gulati, Stella Hines, Cecile Rose, Kenneth Scott, Susan M. Tarlo, Kjell Torén, Akshay Sood, Rafael E. de la Hoz, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, First published: January 24, 2021
From the abstract:
The impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 permeates all aspects of society worldwide. Initial medical reports and media coverage have increased awareness of the risk imposed on healthcare workers in particular, during this pandemic. However, the health implications of COVID‐19 for the global workforce are multifaceted and complex, warranting careful reflection and consideration to mitigate the adverse effects on workers worldwide. Accordingly, our review offers a framework for considering this topic, highlighting key issues, with the aim to prompt and inform action, including research, to minimize the occupational hazards imposed by this ongoing challenge. We address respiratory disease as a primary concern, while recognizing the multisystem spectrum of COVID‐19‐related disease and how clinical aspects are interwoven with broader socioeconomic forces.
Source: Devan Hawkins, Letitia Davis, David Kriebel, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, February 1, 2021
From the abstract:
Exposure to COVID‐19 is more likely among certain occupations compared with others. This descriptive study seeks to explore occupational differences in mortality due to COVID‐19 among workers in Massachusetts.
Death certificates of those who died from COVID‐19 in Massachusetts between March 1 and July 31, 2020 were collected. Occupational information was coded and age‐adjusted mortality rates were calculated according to occupation.
There were 555 deaths among MA residents of age 16–64, with usable occupation information, resulting in an age‐adjusted mortality rate of 16.4 per 100,000 workers. Workers in 11 occupational groups including healthcare support and transportation and material moving had mortality rates higher than that for workers overall. Hispanic and Black workers had age‐adjusted mortality rates more than four times higher than that for White workers overall and also had higher rates than Whites within high‐risk occupation groups.
Efforts should be made to protect workers in high‐risk occupations identified in this report from COVID‐19 exposure.
Source: Bruce D. McDonald, III, Christopher B. Goodman, Megan E. Hatch, State and Local Government Review, OnlineFirst Published December 29, 2020
From the abstract:
The current outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19), has spurred a large governmental response from all levels of the U.S. intergovernmental system. The emergency and disaster response system of the United States is designed to be bottom-up, meaning responses are intended to begin at the local level with state and federal governments stepping in to assist with resources and oversight as needed (Rubin and Barbee 1985; Schneider 1995, 2008). The response to the current outbreak, however, has been something else entirely, as each level of government competes with the others over dwindling resources and the authority to respond to the crisis.
We examine how the U.S. intergovernmental system of emergency response is designed, how state and local governments have responded to the COVID-19 crisis thus far, and how this crisis has further exposed tensions in the state-local intergovernmental system. We use the National League of Cities’ (2020) COVID-19 Local Action Tracker to examine city and state responses to the pandemic. We argue state-local intergovernmental response is associated with many issues related to intergovernmental relations broadly, particularly conflict about the “best” emergency services provider. This leads some states to prefer a local response with state support and other states to prefer a more uniform, state-mandated response enabled by state preemption of local actions. The latter has revealed an often-dormant means of state preemption of local ordinances: the executive order preemption. Accessible through the emergency powers afforded to U.S. governors, this type of preemption is uncommon because it is overshadowed by legislative and judicial preemptions. This article seeks to explore descriptively the prevalence of executive order preemptions and discuss the implications of these preemptions in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These preemptions vary in their content, with some representing policy minimums, others maximums, and some a combination of the two. Yet all types of preemption have substantial effects on what local government administrators can do to respond to their constituency’s needs. Such constraints, when out of alignment with local needs, can be challenging in normal times but are potentially catastrophic in emergencies. Administrators will need to be creative in balancing responsiveness to their constituents within such a limiting policy environment.
Source: Congressional Research Service, Insight, IN11241, Updated: December 4, 2020
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant provides grants to the 50 states, District of Columbia, American Indian tribes, and certain territories with the broad purpose of ameliorating and addressing root causes of childhood economic disadvantage. States may use TANF funds in any way they reasonably calculate could achieve the block grant’s statutory purpose. Some of the flexibility the block grant affords to states, tribes, and territories was used to address the fallout from Hurricane Katrina and the deep economic recession of 2007-2009.
Source: Joseph Maya, Julia Audibert, Zachary Sipala, Caroline Vandis, Calvin Carson, and Emily Prudente, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 71, Issue No. 4, Winter 2020
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA), Equal Employment Opportunity laws (which encompass the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are long-standing pillars of employment law in this country. Collectively, they aim to ensure individual privacy, safe work environments, and equal treatment free from discrimination in the workplace. Given their appealing and sensical nature, it seems axiomatic that these statutes and agencies operate in concert. However, complying with their provisions during a global pandemic requires navigating murky waters. In practice, these laws present sometimes competing demands for many employers and employees trying to understand the new reality imposed by COVID-19. Striking an effective balance between these rights and responsibilities during the upheaval caused by COVID-19 incurs a host of relatively novel challenges. In this article, the attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. demystify how to serve the best interests of employers and employees and offer a comprehensive analysis of legal guidelines, both old and new, to inform our readers how to best achieve that balance.
Source: Dina Kolker and Daria D. Anichkova, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 46, No. 4, Spring 2021
The authors explain that public employees concerned about virus exposure at work enjoy various protections from retaliation for speaking out about perceived unsafe working conditions.
Source: Susan R. Sama, ScD, Margaret M. Quinn, ScD, Catherine J. Galligan, et. al., Home Health Care Management & Practice, OnlineFirst Published December 11, 2020
From the abstract:
Home health and home care (HH&HC) agencies provide essential medical and supportive services to elders and people with disabilities, enabling them to live at home. Home-based care is an important alternative to facility-based care, especially for infection prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of the HH&HC workforce is comprised of aides, who also are vulnerable to COVID-19. There are limited data on the COVID-19 experience of HH&HC agencies, clients and aides. A survey of Massachusetts HH&HC agency managers was conducted June 1 to 30, 2020 to assess the impact of COVID-19 on agencies, clients, and aides early in the pandemic and to identify needs for future pandemic planning. Of the 94 agencies with completed surveys, most (59.6%) provided services to clients with COVID-19 and 3-quarters (73.7%) employed aides who tested positive for COVID-19, were symptomatic, and/or quarantined. Most agencies (98.7%) experienced a decrease in demand for home visits, reflecting clients’ concern about infection, family members assuming care duties, and/or aides being unavailable for work. Simultaneously, managers’ workloads increased to develop more extensive infection prevention policies, procedures and workforce training and sourcing scarce personal protective equipment (PPE). The COVID-19 pandemic imposed substantial new infection prevention responsibilities on HH&HC agencies, clients, and aides. Specific HH&HC needs for future pandemic planning include complete information on the infection status of clients; ready access to affordable PPE and disinfectants; and guidance, tools, and training tailored for the industry. HH&HC should be incorporated more fully into comprehensive healthcare and public health pandemic planning.
Source: Michael Zhang, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 64, Issue 1, January 2021
From the abstract:
The disease burden of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) is not uniform across occupations. Although healthcare workers are well‐known to be at increased risk, data for other occupations are lacking. In lieu of this, models have been used to forecast occupational risk using various predictors, but no model heretofore has used data from actual case numbers. This study assesses the differential risk of COVID‐19 by occupation using predictors from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) database and correlating them with case counts published by the Washington State Department of Health to identify workers in individual occupations at highest risk of COVID‐19 infection.
The ONET database was screened for potential predictors of differential COVID‐19 risk by occupation. Case counts delineated by occupational group were obtained from public sources. Prevalence by occupation was estimated and correlated with ONET data to build a regression model to predict individual occupations at greatest risk.
Two variables correlate with case prevalence: disease exposure (r = 0.66; p = 0.001) and physical proximity (r = 0.64; p = 0.002), and predict 47.5% of prevalence variance (p = 0.003) on multiple linear regression analysis. The highest risk occupations are in healthcare, particularly dental, but many nonhealthcare occupations are also vulnerable.
Models can be used to identify workers vulnerable to COVID‐19, but predictions are tempered by methodological limitations. Comprehensive data across many states must be collected to adequately guide implementation of occupation‐specific interventions in the battle against COVID‐19.
Source: Martin Wurm, Regional Financial Review, November 2020
Despite concerns that student loan delinquencies and defaults may spike once deferment under the CARES Act expires at the end of 2020, most student loan debt is owned by high-income households, which are not likely to default and do not need such subsidies. Policy reform should be aimed to benefit lower-income and minority households, which are targeted by low-quality, for-profit schools and are much more likely to default
Source: Ryan Sweet, Regional Financial Review, November 2020
We explore how living with school-age children has affected decision-making during the pandemic. Households with children experienced sharper job and income losses than those whose children are not living at home, and female parents are more than twice as likely as men to reduce their work hours among couples living together.