A: The clinical spectrum ranges from mild disease with non-specific signs and symptoms of acute respiratory illness, to severe pneumonia with respiratory failure and septic shock. There have also been reports of asymptomatic infection with COVID-19. The most common features of the virus are:
A: Currently, those at greatest risk of infection are persons who have had prolonged, unprotected close contact with a patient with symptomatic, confirmed COVID-19, adults individuals with certain pre-existing conditions including heart disease, diabetes, lung disease and asthma, and those who live in or have recently been to areas with sustained transmission.
A: Yes. The vaccines are provided free of charge, and the Benefit Fund will cover the costs associated with getting the shot. If you are offered the vaccine at your workplaceand are asked to present your 1199SEIU Health Benefits ID card, it is fine to do so. The Benefit Fund will cover the costs of administering the vaccination to you.
There is a worldwide shortage of personal protective equipment and our union is fighting to make sure our Federal government takes action now to address it. You can join the fight here: https://www.1199seiu.org//PPEPetition.
Here is the 1199SEIU Training Fund on COVID-19, including how to don and doff PPE: https://www.1199seiubenefits.org/funds-and-services/training-and-employment/
A: The CDC recommends using droplet precautions for patients known or suspected to be infected with COVID-19. Recommended personal protective equipment includes gloves, gowns, mouth, nose and eye protection. N95s should be added to droplet precaution PPEs during aerosol generating procedures such as intubation and nebulizers.
A: The choice of gown should be made based on the level of risk of contamination. Certain areas of surgical and isolation gowns are defined as “critical zones” where direct contact with blood, body fluids, and/or other potentially infectious materials is most likely to occur. See CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Protective Equipment.
A: The CDC recommends several crisis/alternate strategies in these circumstances including:
Particularly when the supply of N95s are running low, certain members should be excluded from care of COVID-19 patients or PUI/PUM (i.e. immunocompromised members, pregnant members or members with other serious health conditions which may put them at higher risk for severe illness related to COVID-19) to allow the supply of N95s to be used for those providing care to such patients, particularly when aerosolizing procedures are being performed.
Employers should also make environmental changes to reduce exposure, for example by the use of extension tubing to place IV pumps outside of the rooms of patients in isolation to minimize the number of times staff must enter rooms.
A: Many workers who have been caring for COVID 19 patients prefer not to wear their own scrubs or other work clothes home. The union recommends that employers provide a place for showering, booties and plastic bags for disrobing, as well as the option of scrubs for members of the care team.
A: CDC guidance permits asymptomatic healthcare workers to work even following exposure, however you must monitor your temperature and must isolate and cannot work if you become symptomatic.
A: It is the Union’s position that any employee sent home due to COVID-19 must be paid by the employer without using their own time. The recently passed federal “Families First Coronavirus Act’‘ provides for paid sick and paid family leave related to COVID-19. However, Congress failed healthcare workers by allowing most of us to be exempted. The law does not apply to employers with more than 500 or fewer than 50 workers and guidance recently released by the US Department of Labor allows health care providers to opt to exempt their employees from eligibility for these benefits. The Union is fighting to ensure that this exemption is eliminated in the next Federal coronavirus bill.
Both New York State and New York City have issued guidance echoing the CDC’s guidance that absent a positive test result for COVID-19, asymptomatic healthcare workers may continue to work regardless of exposure. New York State passed an emergency sick leave law providing up to 14 paid sick days for employees who are ordered quarantined or isolated. Employers with between 11 to 99 employees are required to pay for 5 days themselves, after which paid family leave and/or disability insurance should be available to cover the remaining. In both instances this paid sick leave is in addition to any other paid time off benefits the member may be entitled to.
A: Nursing home employees who test positive for COVID-19 but remained asymptomatic are not eligible to return to work for 14 days from first positive test date in any situation and will no longer adhere to the shorter CDC timeframe. Symptomatic nursing home employees may not return to work until 14 days after the onset of symptoms, provided at least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and respiratory symptoms are improving.
A: A member exposed to COVID-19 (directly or indirectly) on a job that is quarantined (even without becoming ill), or that is ill with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 (even without actual contact tracing), should promptly file a “C-3 form” with the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board (or the corresponding form and agency within their state’s labor department). For healthcare workers, a COVID-19 infection on the job should be considered an “occupational disease” or “occupational illness.” The application should contain as much detail as possible about the exposure. Having an application started is vital in the event of your death. Workers’ Compensation survivor benefits can be up to $45,000 per year for the widowed spouse (until remarriage) or minor children of a deceased worker.
When health care workers are quarantined (compelled or directed by the employer or government authority) based on some level of exposure on the job, the lost time and medical care provided during the quarantine is also considered compensable for purposes of workers’ compensation law—even if the worker turned out not to have COVID-19.
Even in the absence of illness, quarantine, or a Worker’s Compensation Board determination that COVID-19 is an “occupational illness,” the exposure is the injury for which you can file.
If you need help or advice concerning your Workers’ Compensation claim, call the Benefit Fund at (646) 473-9200.
A: Paid sick leave days are only for when a worker is required to quarantine or isolate. Based on the DOH Advisory, healthcare workers are not required to quarantine or isolate based on exposure alone. However, members are entitled to at least 7 days of paid sick leave if they must isolate or cannot work because they test positive for COVID-19 or show symptoms of COVID-19. In either case, according to the DOH Advisory, they cannot work unless/until 7 days have elapsed since their test or the onset of their symptoms, and respiratory symptoms are improving, and they are fever free without medication for 72 hours (7-day/72-hour test). In addition, an asymptomatic member who tests positive is required to stay out for an additional 7 days if they develop symptoms within the initial 7-day isolation period.
Although quarantine-based paid sick leave is not available for our members based on exposure alone, under the DOH Advisory, healthcare employees who must isolate and fail to meet the criteria for returning to work listed in the Advisory are entitled to paid sick leave benefits.
A: There is no stated requirement that employees required to stay away from work (isolate) by their employer also obtain an order of quarantine or isolation from their local Health Department or an attestation from their doctor to receive paid sick leave. However, any doctor’s note obtained for paid sick leave purposes must be an attestation that the member meets one of the listed bases for obtaining an order of quarantine or isolation: for healthcare workers, either a positive test result or symptoms of COVID-19. Ask your doctor to state the COVID-19 specific basis for you to be out of work. Remember, exposure alone is not sufficient.
A: If an employer sends an employee home based on symptoms that raise suspicion of COVID-19, they cannot require the employee to return to work until they have satisfied the 7 day/72-hour test as described in the DOH Advisory. Because symptoms trigger isolation, they are entitled to 7 days of paid sick leave automatically and cannot be required to use their own sick time or paid time off. Also, where your 1199 contract has a guarantee of hours, the employer cannot require you to miss work for non-disciplinary reasons and then refuse to pay you.
A: Yes. Once an employer sends a member home as a precaution they are “furloughed to isolate” as referenced in the DOH Advisory and entitled to paid sick leave. The employee should not return to work until the 7 days have passed and should certainly get paid sick for any days the employer requires them to miss. As described above, members may have a contractual right to be paid as well.
A: Members’ options when dealing with layoffs are primarily controlled by their 1199 contract. All 1199 contracts provide that layoffs must be implemented by seniority and allow for seniority-based bumping within your same classification or group.
If you work for an employer that contributes to the 1199SEIU Job Security Fund (JSF) you will be eligible for additional benefits. Ask your organizer whether the JSF is negotiated in your contract. If you are eligible for JSF benefits your organizer and employer will provide information to the JSF. Please make sure to update your contact information with your employer.
A: You might be. Follow the instructions below related to lay-offs to determine your level of benefits from the unemployment compensation system. These rules apply to all states.
A:Your union fought for extended and additional unemployment benefits for all workers affected by the pandemic. The benefit possibilities outlined below are newly available state and federal benefits that do not include and are in addition to the paid time off that you may have already earned and may be entitled to receive.
The $900 million stimulus package that passed at the end of December establishes a temporary supplemental $300 in unemployment benefits for all workers, a decrease from the $600 in additional benefits provided to unemployed workers by the CARES Act that ended in July. The supplemental $300 will be available to unemployed workers through March 14, 2021.
A: No, if you are laid-off or experience a reduction of hours or are otherwise eligible for unemployment insurance, you do not need to use your earned sick time before applying for unemployment insurance.
A: Yes, the 1199SEIU Employment Center (EC) is available to you. The EC can help you find a new job. Right now, many healthcare employers are experiencing a shortage of workers. Please go to https://www.1199seiubenefits.org/employment-center to upload your information. You do not need to enter your information if you are eligible for Job Security Fund Benefits.
A: Employees may request reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to include the use of paid and unpaid leave. In addition, you may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a supplemental Unemployment Insurance benefit available under the CARES Act if you believe you have been forced to quit or are unable to travel to work for medical reasons as a result of COVID-19. Apply through your state’s unemployment system.
A: If you think your client may have been exposed to coronavirus, you should report that exposure to your coordinator. You should also ask the client if they have a fever, or respiratory symptoms such as cough and or shortness of breath and if they do, report this to the client’s care coordinator. If the client is able to wear a facemask, the client should be asked to wear a face mask to prevent transmission to others. If the client is unable to wear a facemask, they should be instructed to use tissues or other barriers to cover their mouth and nose. Healthcare providers should also wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE), if available, including gloves and facemask while in the client’s home, should practice proper hand hygiene before and after all client contact, and should remove and discard all PPE upon leaving the clients home.
A: The CARES Act provides unemployment insurance benefits in the form of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for members who are unable to work for certain COVID-19 reasons, listed below. These benefits are accessed through your state unemployment system.
Please note, if you are sick you should access Disability and/or Workers Compensation rather than PUA. Also, in considering whether to stay home from work and seek PUA benefits members should take into account the possibility of losing health insurance coverage and/or the right to return to their position. To avoid any adverse impact on employment status and health coverage, members should seek approval of an unpaid leave of absence from their employer.
PUA benefits only last for the duration of the COVID-19 qualifying reason the employee is unable to work and are not available to employees who have the ability to telework with pay, or who are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits.
According to the CARES Act, PUA benefits can be accessed for workers who cannot work because they:
A: 1199 and other unions fought for workers who are not normally covered by unemployment compensation to get benefits. The $900 million stimulus package that passed at the end of December extends two programs, The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). The PUA program provides benefits for self-employed workers, freelancers, and other gig workers who typically aren’t eligible for state unemployment benefits, and the PEUC allows states to provide up to 13 weeks of federally funded unemployment benefits to those who have already used all available state benefits. Your family and friends can apply in the same place as other state unemployment benefits (see above).
A: The new stimulus package includes payments up to $600, or $1,200 for joint filers. The payments will decrease for Americans who earned more than $75,000 in 2019, or joint filers who earned $150,000. Parents will also receive $600 per dependent child. 1199 fought to make sure workers have income during this crisis.
A: If your ability to pay your mortgage is impacted, and your loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you may be eligible to delay making your monthly mortgage payments for a temporary period. Contact your mortgage servicer (the company where you send your monthly payments) as soon as possible to let them know about your current circumstances. The telephone number and mailing address of your mortgage servicer should be listed on your monthly mortgage statement.
A: We are working in all of our regions to make sure that members have access to quality childcare, and the Federal CARES Act provided additional funding to support childcare for healthcare workers.
In New York City, members can access Regional Enrichment Centers providing care from 7:30 – 6 using this link. Westchester County resources are here. The 1199SEIU Child Care Fund has a list of resources on its webpage.
In Massachusetts, The state has arranged for urgent child care services for essential workers like you. You should not consider this as a regular option for child care, but you can contact any provider on this approved list to arrange drop-in child care.
A: While there is expanded paid family leave provided for under the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, healthcare workers are largely excluded because they work for employers with more than 500 employees and/or because health care employers are permitted to exempt their employees. The Union is fighting to expand these protections to all healthcare workers in the next bill.
Some states do provide access to paid family leave.
New York members who are caring for children with serious medical conditions may be eligible for up to 10 weeks of paid leave under New York’s paid family leave law. A serious medical condition is defined as a chronic serious health condition that continues over an extended period, requires periodic treatment visits, and may cause episodic periods of incapacity. Examples given include asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Employees of private employers with less than 100 employees may qualify for Quarantine Leave under NYS Paid Family Leave to care for a minor dependent child who is under a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation for the duration of the order.
Under New Jersey’s Family Leave Insurance law, employees can access up to 6 weeks of partial wage replacement to care for a sick family member (including COVID-19) or to bond with a newborn or adopted child. Starting July 1, 2020, the program will increase the benefit to 12 weeks.
Paid family and medical leave is a state-offered benefit for anyone who works in Massachusetts and is eligible to take up to 26 weeks of paid leave for medical or family reasons. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/paid-family-and-medical-leave-pfml-fact-sheet#what-is-pfml?-