Category Archives: Pandemics & Infectious Diseases

FAQs Clarify COVID-19 Testing and Diagnosis Requirements for Employer Health Plans

Source: Timothy J. Stanton and Kristine M. Bingman, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 46, No. 2, Autumn 2020
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From the abstract:
This article reviews the key subjects covered by a federal guidance exploring requirements under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Emerging From the COVID-19 Pandemic: Returning Employees and Benefits Considerations

Source: Mark E. Bokert and Alan Hahn, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 46, No. 2, Autumn 2020
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From the abstract:
…This column addresses some of the key legal considerations employers should keep in mind as they review their plan documents in preparation for bringing employees back from leave or layoffs. In addition, it addresses certain areas of benefits that employers may want to reconsider post-pandemic in order to properly incentivize employees.

COVID-19: What Every Employer Should Keep in Mind

Source: Rikki A. Sapolich-Krol, Samantha M. Beatty, and Briana M. Swift, Benefits Law Journal, Vol. 33, No. 2, Summer 2020
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From the abstract:
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic uncertainty, many employers and employees alike are searching for ways to be financially prepared in the weeks and months to come. This article highlights what employers should keep front-of-mind when making decisions regarding their retirement plans, health and welfare plans, and other compensation agreements, plans, and arrangements.

Pandemic Pandemonium: Navigating Employment Considerations in the Face of COVID-19

Source: April Boyer, Rio Gonzalez, and Erinn Rigney, Benefits Law Journal, Vol. 33, No. 2, Summer 2020
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From the abstract:
The global outbreak of COVID-19 presents significant issues for employers attempting to manage global and domestic workforces, address business disruptions, and navigate developing regulatory guidance and requirements. COVID-19 has led to seismic disruptions for employers, irrespective of their size or earlier financial stability. Amidst this pandemic, employers are continuing to wrestle with several challenges, including understanding and complying with new and existing laws, implementing workplace safety measures, and monitoring evolving federal, state, and local government responses and restrictions. Further, employers are beginning to assess re-open strategies and preparing to implement innovative solutions to an altered operational landscape. This article addresses how COVID-19 has affected businesses from an employment perspective; provide an overview of various regulatory changes; and identify future considerations as employers develop return-to-work strategies within the shadow of COVID-19.

Early Evidence on the Impact of COVID-19 and the Recession on Older Workers

Source: Truc Thi Mai Bui, Patrick Button, Elyce G. Picciotti, NBER Working Paper No. 27448, June 2020

From the abstract:

We summarize some of the early effects and discuss possible future effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession on the employment outcomes of older workers in the United States. We start by discussing what we know about how older workers faired in prior recessions in the United States and how COVID-19 and this recession may differ. We then estimate some early effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession on employment and unemployment rates by age group and sex using Current Population Survey data. We calculate employment and unemployment rates multiple ways to account for the complicated employment situation and possible errors in survey enumeration. We find that while previous recessions, in some ways, did not affect employment outcomes for older workers as much, this recession disproportionately affected older workers of ages 65 and older. For example, we find that unemployment rates in April 2020 increased to 15.43% for those ages 65 and older, compared to 12.99% for those ages 25-44. We also find that COVID-19 and the recession disproportionately affected women, where women have reached higher unemployment rates than men, which was consistent for all age groups and unemployment rate measures we used.

What Does and Does Not Correlate with COVID-19 Death Rates

Source: Christopher R. Knittel, Bora Ozaltun, NBER Working Paper No. 27391, June 2020

From the abstract:
We correlate county-level COVID-19 death rates with key variables using both linear regression and negative binomial mixed models, although we focus on linear regression models. We include four sets of variables: socio-economic variables, county-level health variables, modes of commuting, and climate and pollution patterns. Our analysis studies daily death rates from April 4, 2020 to May 27, 2020. We estimate correlation patterns both across states, as well as within states. For both models, we find higher shares of African American residents in the county are correlated with higher death rates. However, when we restrict ourselves to correlation patterns within a given state, the statistical significance of the correlation of death rates with the share of African Americans, while remaining positive, wanes. We find similar results for the share of elderly in the county. We find that higher amounts of commuting via public transportation, relative to telecommuting, is correlated with higher death rates. The correlation between driving into work, relative to telecommuting, and death rates is also positive across both models, but statistically significant only when we look across states and counties. We also find that a higher share of people not working, and thus not commuting either because they are elderly, children or unemployed, is correlated with higher death rates. Counties with higher home values, higher summer temperatures, and lower winter temperatures have higher death rates. Contrary to past work, we do not find a correlation between pollution and death rates. Also importantly, we do not find that death rates are correlated with obesity rates, ICU beds per capita, or poverty rates. Finally, our model that looks within states yields estimates of how a given state’s death rate compares to other states after controlling for the variables included in our model; this may be interpreted as a measure of how states are doing relative to others. We find that death rates in the Northeast are substantially higher compared to other states, even when we control for the four sets of variables above. Death rates are also statistically significantly higher in Michigan, Louisiana, Iowa, Indiana, and Colorado. California’s death rate is the lowest across all states.

Racial Disparity in COVID-19 Deaths: Seeking Economic Roots with Census data

Source: John McLaren, NBER Working Paper No. 27407, June 2020

From the abstract:
This note seeks the socioeconomic roots of racial disparities in COVID-19 mortality, using county-level mortality, economic, and demographic data from 3,140 counties. For all minorities, the minority’s population share is strongly correlated with total COVID-19 deaths. For Hispanic/Latino and Asian minorities those correlations are fragile, and largely disappear when we control for education, occupation, and commuting patterns. For African Americans and First Nations populations, the correlations are very robust. Surprisingly, for these two groups the racial disparity does not seem to be due to differences in income, poverty rates, education, occupational mix, or even access to healthcare insurance. A significant portion of the disparity can, however, be sourced to the use of public transit.

Implications of the Covid-19 Pandemic for State Government Tax Revenues

Source: Jeffrey Clemens, Stan Veuger, NBER Working Paper No. 27426, June 2020
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From the abstract:
We assess the Covid-19 pandemic’s implications for state government sales and income tax revenues. We estimate that the economic declines implied by recent forecasts from the Congressional Budget Office will lead to a shortfall of roughly $106 billion in states’ sales and income tax revenues for the 2021 fiscal year. This is equivalent to 0.5 percent of GDP and 11.5 percent of our pre-Covid sales and income tax projection. Additional tax shortfalls from the second quarter of 2020 may amount to roughly $42 billion. We discuss how these revenue declines fit into several pieces of the broader economic context. These include other revenues (e.g., university tuition and fees) that are also at risk, as well as assets (e.g., pension plan holdings) that are at risk. Further dimensions of context include support enacted through several pieces of federal legislation, as well as spending needs necessitated by the public health crisis itself.

COVID-19 and Remote Work: An Early Look at US Data

Source: Erik Brynjolfsson, John J. Horton, Adam Ozimek, Daniel Rock, Garima Sharma, Hong-Yi TuYe, NBER Working Paper No. 27344, June 2020

From the abstract:
We report the results of a nationally-representative sample of the US population during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey ran in two waves from April 1-5, 2020 and May 2-8, 2020. Of those employed pre-COVID-19, we find that about half are now working from home, including 35.2% who report they were commuting and recently switched to working from home. In addition, 10.1% report being laid-off or furloughed since the start of COVID-19. There is a strong negative relationship between the fraction in a state still commuting to work and the fraction working from home. We find that the share of people switching to remote work can be predicted by the incidence of COVID-19 and that younger people were more likely to switch to remote work. Furthermore, states with a higher share of employment in information work including management, professional and related occupations were more likely to shift toward working from home and had fewer people laid off or furloughed. We find no substantial change in results between the two waves, suggesting that most changes to remote work manifested by early April.