Executive Order 2020-172: Clarifying COVID Symptoms
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 Executive Order 2020-172 rescinded the recently issued Executive Order 2020-166 but the only major difference was clarifying what constituted COVID symptoms.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):
- an uncontrolled cough, or
- shortness of breath;
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,
- 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:
- Twenty-four (24) hours have passed since the resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications; AND
- Ten (10) days have passed since symptoms first appeared or since they were swabbed for the test that yielded the positive result; AND
- 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).