There have been several COVID-19 cases at my company. ‘There have been several COVID-19 cases at my company. People have been out for at least two weeks because they were either sick or thought they had coronavirus. Most of us, but not all, wear masks inside the office.
My coworkers are coughing and sneezing for days, but nobody does anything. Other coworkers complain, but I worry that I will get into trouble, so I don’t do anything. Of course, those same coworkers talk about their parties, trips and don’t wear masks.
What is the right way to handle this? Please don’t add my name. I’m worried I’ll get in trouble.
You are following the health and safety protocols, but they have a better chance of working if everyone is wearing masks in the office and following the guidance of health authorities outside the office. It only takes one person to flout the rules to create an outbreak at an office or a meat plant, or anywhere else there are people in close proximity to each other and/or sharing facilities.
That said, people are anxious. I’ve witnessed so many awkward encounters between people who were not keeping enough distance from each other. Every cough or sneeze does not mean a person has COVID-19. I was on a train yesterday and felt like sneezing. We were all seated several feet apart per regulations in Ireland, but I thought, ‘Will other passengers think I have COVID?”
According to the Texas Department of Insurance: “The General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires employers to furnish each worker a place of employment free from recognized hazards that may cause death or serious physical harm.” Most employers are obliged to record COVID-19 cases among their workforce.
Texans are required to wear masks inside commercial buildings or in public when it’s not feasible to maintain a six-feet distance. Texas, like the U.S., is a patchwork of rules and guidelines. Dallas requires that all non-medical employees working at an essential business must wear a mask in public or when performing job duties around others, according to attorneys Holland & Knight.
Look up the rules and guidelines in your county and city, and inform your labor union and/or manager. You could also post those rules in a common area for other employees. Keep wearing your mask and maintaining at least six feet from others and wash your hands regularly. If your employer violates guidelines, you can report them anonymously to your local health department.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to work remotely. For those that are not, flexible work schedules and staggering shifts can help keep people apart. Safety procedures work best if everyone wears masks. As Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told me last month: “If half of people don’t do it, it kind of negates the overall purpose.”
I hope you continue to stay safe and healthy.
Coronavirus update: COVID-19 has now killed at least 774,053 people worldwide, and the U.S. ranks 10th in the world for deaths per 100,000 people (51.5), Johns Hopkins University says. As of Tuesday, the U.S. has the world’s highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases (5,438,325) and deaths (170,497). Worldwide, confirmed cases are now at 21,885,268.
The Dow Jones Industrial Index DJIA, -0.30% lost ground on Monday, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.27% edged upward and the Nasdaq Composite COMP, +1.00% notched a triple-digit gain as investors hope for progress on the vaccine front and a fresh round of unemployment benefits in Round 2 of Congress’s pandemic relief program.
AstraZeneca AZN, +2.30%, in combination with Oxford University; BioNTech SE BNTX, +2.36% and partner Pfizer PFE, +0.76% ; GlaxoSmithKline GSK, +1.43% Johnson & Johnson JNJ, +0.50% ; Merck & Co. MERK, -1.51% ; Moderna MRNA, +0.88% ; and Sanofi SAN, -1.33% are among those are currently working toward COVID-19 vaccines.