This week the Army Corps of Engineers will begin construction of temporary hospitals in New York. Supplies and materials have already arrived at Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Center, which could be completely turned into a medical facility in seven to 10 days. The convention center will have four 250-bed federal hospitals on the main showroom floor. There is also a possibility that space for 1,000 additional beds for medical staff would be needed.
Temporary hospitals will also be set up at three other locations: Westchester County Center, SUNY Stony Brook, and SUNY Old Westbury. These four locations were chosen from a longlist of possible sites because of space requirements and the ability to transform the locations quickly.
As of 6 p.m. Saturday
New York governor Andrew Cuomo has issued an order to close all non-essential businesses as of Sunday March 22 at 8 p.m. According to his order, exemptions include, “Construction, Including:
- skilled trades such as electricians, plumbers
- other related construction firms and professionals for essential infrastructure or for emergency repair and safety purposes”
Some NYC legislators are calling on the mayor to shut down any non-emergency construction, as was done in Boston.
Like Pennsylvania and New York, New Jersey has now shuttered all non-essential businesses. On Saturday governor Phil Murphy made the announcement, which exempts construction from the closures.
From Governor Murphy’s official order:
Examples of employees who need to be physically present at their work site in order to perform their duties include, but are not limited to, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and other first responders, cashiers or store clerks, construction workers, utility workers, repair workers, warehouse workers, lab researchers, information technology maintenance workers, janitorial and custodial staff, and certain administrative staff.
“UTCA has been working in concert with the Governor’s office to ensure our industry can follow health safety guidelines and keep working. In a conversation with CEO Bob Briant, Jr., the Governor clarified that construction support services are also allowed to remain open,” according to a UTCA email.
In addition to working with the governor’s office, the UTCA has been trying help with the shortage of medical supplies, asking members to donate N95 masks. As of a tweet on Friday, 280 masks had been donated.
After input from the Associated General Contractors of America, OSHA has revised its coronavirus reporting requirements. According to the AGC, here are the current requirements:
OSHA recordkeeping requirements at 29 CFR Part 1904 mandate covered employers record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log.
COVID-19 can be a recordable illness if a worker is infected as a result of performing their work-related duties. However, employers are only responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if all of the following are met:
- The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19 (see CDC information on persons under investigation and presumptive positive and laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19);
- The case is work-related, as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and
- The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR 1904.7 (e.g. medical treatment beyond first-aid, days away from work).
According to OSHA standards and directives, there is nothing specific to coronavirus in its guidelines, but the following were cited as some that may be relevant to helping with the spread:
- OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standards (in general industry, 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I), which require using gloves, eye and face protection, and respiratory protection.
- When respirators are necessary to protect workers, employers must implement a comprehensive respiratory protection program in accordance with the Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134).
o OSHA has issued temporary guidance related to enforcement of respirator annual fit-testing requirements for healthcare.
Bergen County executive Jim Tedesco is rescinding his order to halt all construction and utility work and shutdown of most retail activity in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The order, which was to go into effect on Saturday morning, is being rescinded at the request of NJ governor Phil Murphy, according to Tedesco. The Association Construction Contractors of New Jersey opposed the original order and were pursuing legal options.
Late this afternoon the Senate passed the bill sent from the House with overwhelming support 90 – 8. Read more about this and the status of the promised stimulus package on The Washington Post
To help you understand exactly what this bill will mean to workers and employers of all sizes, take a look at this straightforward article in Business Insider