Executive Order 2020-172: Clarifying COVID Symptoms

Monday, August 31, 2020

On August 27, 2020, the Governor issued Executive Order 2020-172, titled “Protecting workers who stay home, stay safe when they or their close contacts are sick”.  Executive Order 2020-172 rescinded the recently issued Executive Order 2020-166 but the only major difference was clarifying what constituted COVID symptoms.

Executive Order 2020-172 redefines COVID-19 symptoms as follows:

The principal symptoms of COVID-19” are (i) any one of the following not explained by a known medical or physical condition: fever, an uncontrolled cough, shortness of breath; or (ii) at least two of the following not explained by a known medical or physical condition: loss of taste or smell, muscle aches (“myalgia”), sore throat, severe headache, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain.

The prior definition, used in Executive Order 2020-166 and other prior Executive Orders, was “[t]he principal symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, sore throat, a new uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, new onset of a severe headache, and new loss of taste or smell.”

Executive Order 2020-172 essentially created alternate standards:

One or more of the following symptoms (not explained by a known medical or physical condition):

    • fever,
    • an uncontrolled cough, or
    • shortness of breath;  

                or

Two or more of the following symptoms (not explained by a known medical or physical condition):

    • loss of taste or smell,
    • muscle aches (“myalgia”),
    • sore throat,
    • severe headache,
    • diarrhea,
    • vomiting, or
    • abdominal pain.

Executive Order 2020-172 also added a new standard for the medical condition of “not explained by a known medical or physical condition.”   This new standard will help employers who sometimes had to address situations in which the employee already experienced COVID-like symptoms because of a different underlying condition, such as asthma, allergies, COPD, etc.  In such cases, there was some confusion as to whether these symptoms, which would have been otherwise present because of a different medical condition, somehow meant that the employee could not report to work because they were experiencing a symptom explicitly listed as a COVID-19 symptom.   This revised standard makes clear that symptoms that would have otherwise been present because of a different known medical or physical condition will not be taken into consideration in analyzing whether an individual is experiencing COVID-like symptoms.

Executive Order 2002-172 keeps in place the 10-day standard for individuals who previously tested positive for COVID-19.  As stated in our prior Client Alert, any individual who tests positive for COVID-19 or who displays one or more of the principal symptoms of COVID-19 to remain in their residence (apart from seeking medical care) until:

  1. Twenty-four (24) hours have passed since the resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications; AND
  2. Ten (10) days have passed since symptoms first appeared or since they were swabbed for the test that yielded the positive result; AND
  3. Other symptoms have improved.

The 14-day standard still, however, applies to any person who has had close contact with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 or with an individual who displays one or more of the principal symptoms of COVID-19.

This revised definition of COVID-19 symptoms may affect your screening process.  Employers may want to review and revise their screening process to reflect the new definition for COVID-19 symptoms as well as the new 10-day standard if an employee tests positive for COVID-19 (if not already changed after the issuance of Executive Order 2020-166).

Rebecca Davies
313.225.7028
davies@butzel.com

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