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Employers worry as Covid-19 cases soar

By Marcelle Dibrell

One hundred and ninety-five (195) days have passed since the United States recorded its first case of a confirmed Covid-19 patient. The world has 18,601,795 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 702,045 total deaths. The U.S. has reached over 5,000,000 confirmed cases, and a total death toll of over 160,000 attributed to the disease.

On Aug 4, 2020, the U.S. was finding 57,540 new cases a day and losing 1,399 people per day. The number of per day new cases has dropped slightly from its record high when the country found 77,255 new cases on July 16, 2020.

California, Florida and Texas all topped New York’s total cases (422,296) with California in the lead, the state having reached over 550,000 total cases, although New York continues to lead the country in total deaths at 32,422.

Vaccines are being developed by several large companies and are in human clinical trials, including Moderna Inc, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax. The U.S. has made at least seven multimillion dollar deals with drug makers currently in the development stages of potential vaccines. Dr Anthony Fauci says the U.S. may have a safe and effective vaccine by the start of 2021 and expects the country to have hundreds of millions of doses as drug makers have begun manufacturing doses while clinical trials are ongoing.

This is certainly welcome news as the U.S. economy continues to falter. More and more, economists are saying that the leading economic indicator is…Covid. With access to a vaccine, the economy could rebound. The latest report from ADP Research Institute is the private sector employment increased by 167,000 from June to July. Increases were mostly in service providing jobs, such as leisure and hospitality and more.

Early on in the pandemic, legal experts predicted a wave of Covid-related lawsuits which some are saying has now arrived. Relevant to those employers of “essential workers,” this may be of some concern where there is any question of where the employee may have contracted the disease.

A July 30, 2020, article appearing in the Wall Street Journal reported that employers across the country are being sued by the families of workers who claim that their loved ones contracted lethal cases of Covid-19 while on the job. Walmart, Safeway, Tyson Foods and more have been sued for gross negligence or wrongful death since the coronavirus pandemic began to surge in March.

Some institutions, like the University of New Hampshire and other colleges across the country are asking students to sign documents that might waive away their rights to sue their school if they get sick or die on campus from Covid. New Hampshire’s document explicitly says students have to “assume the risks associated with being at the University of New Hampshire including the risk of exposure to Covid-19.”

On the other extreme, in California, effective from March 19 to July 5, Governor Newsome issued an executive order instituting that any worker not working from home who contracted Covid-19 was presumed for purposes of workers’ compensation to have contracted the virus at work.

Now, Senate Republican leadership has proposed the HEALS Act ( Help, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools) to extend coronavirus-related liability protections to all U.S. employers.

This liability shield would protect employersfrombeingsuedbytheiremployees over Covid-19 exposure in the workplace.

Ken Scott, owner of Aqua Bliss Pool Service in Deerfield Beach, Florida, thinks restaurants and other non-essential businesses should have some liability and be held accountable for not doing the right thing and creating an environment where people might get sick.

“Personally, I feel that to exempt businesses from any and all liability is a bad law,” Scott said.

However, from a business perspective, he doesn’t think passage of the HEALS Act act will have any effect on him. Scott employs seven workers. He implemented social distancing, and provided his employees masks, gloves, hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes for their trucks.

“I’m not concerned. We’ve done everything we can to keep our employees safe. We don’t have customers come to our location at all, and I don’t see how a customer could say that they got Covid from their swimming pool. My only concern would be for my guys and I can show that we’ve done everything we need to do. We’re an essential business, and my guys work alone and outside.

Generally, Covid cases are on the rise, America’s economy continues to suffer, and the pool industry is experiencing an unanticipated boost in business. Service Industry News will continue coronavirus coverage with additional items of interest to pool and spa professionals.

Once again, a huge thanks to all you service guys and gals out there ensuring the country doesn’t also succumb to deadly waterborne diseases and drownings.

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