Coronavirus

The approval of two—and potentially more—COVID-19 vaccines by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been met by employers with optimism that their safe-workplace woes related to COVID-19 are at long-last coming to an end. Although there is cause for hope, employers should beware of the legal pitfalls of mandating a vaccination program among its workforce. Can We Mandate the Vaccine? As the impending likelihood that a COVID-19 vaccine will soon become available to essential workers and the general public, many employers are considering implementing a mandatory vaccination program for employees. For some employers, a mandatory vaccination program may…
Today the EEOC updated its guidance surrounding COVID-19 and vaccinations in the publication titled “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.” In its most recent update, the EEOC has added questions and answers to help employers navigate the new COVID-19 vaccine. The questions are added as a new Section K. Vaccinations, and include numbers K.1 – K.9.  The EEOC clarifies that while employers may be able to require a vaccine (depending upon the workplace and whether the employer can establish a safety threat) they must remember to engage in the interactive…
With the news that COVID-19 vaccines will soon be available in Wisconsin, employers are beginning to question whether they can—or should—require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Although employers can mandate the COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment, as discussed below, this may not be the best choice for most employers. When determining whether to implement a mandatory vaccination, employers should assess the exposure risk inherent in the workplace. For example, is it a high risk workplace, such as a hospital or nursing home? Second, employers should consider the effect of a mandatory vaccination program on workplace morale. Recent…
On November 18, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Rev. Rul. 2020-27 regarding the ability of businesses that received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to deduct expenses. The PPP was created in April of 2020 to provide financial support to small businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new guidance states that if a business’s PPP loan is forgiven, any otherwise deductible expenses that were paid using the loan, such as payroll or rent, are not deductible for income tax purposes. Usually, these types of expenses are deductible when paid with revenue generated directly from the business. However, the IRS…
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued revised guidance with options for reducing the length of quarantine for individuals who are asymptomatic, but have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. While the CDC still acknowledges that the 14-day quarantine period provides the greatest protection from spreading the virus, they also recognize that a full 14-day quarantine period can be a burden for employers and employees alike. The CDC’s new guidance applies only to individuals who have been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive person, but are not showing symptoms. The new…
On December 2, the CDC updated its guidance for quarantining after exposure to COVID-19. The CDC still recommends a 14-day quarantine as the safest option, however, it has provided two acceptable alternatives to shorten the quarantine period depending on local circumstances and resources. Quarantine can end after 10 days without testing if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. Quarantine can end after seven days if the individual obtains a negative diagnostic COVID-19 test result within 48 hours of day seven, and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. Under both alternatives a person can discontinue quarantine only…
In recent weeks, the prospect of an approved, widely available COVID-19 vaccine has become much more tangible as several pharmaceutical companies have presented promising preliminary data regarding the effectiveness of their vaccine trials. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received two applications for emergency use authorization within the last month with meetings scheduled to begin this week. On December 2, 2020, Britain authorized a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, making it the first western nation to do so.1 In light of these developments, the CDC has indicated the possibility of one or more COVID-19 vaccines becoming available for public…
As each day of COVID19 passes, anticipation for a vaccine to remove all the social barriers grows.  According to the New York Times, researchers are testing 44 vaccines on humans, but a vaccine available for mass use probably won’t be available until spring or summer 2021.[1]  And this assumes that there will be sufficient production capacity, vaccination supplies and staffing to reach everyone.[2] Once a vaccine becomes available, to be effective, studies indicate that at least 75% of the population would need to be vaccinated, assuming that the vaccine itself is at least 70% effective in preventing…
On Tuesday, November 17, 2020, Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) issued Emergency Order #10 (the Order). During the press briefings, the PHMDC consistently told the public and media that Order #10 prohibits indoor mass gatherings and limits outdoor gatherings to 10 people or less. The Order continued all of the prior restrictions, including a mask requirement for all individuals over the age of five (5) and limiting most businesses to 50% capacity. The Order further prohibits sports activities, competitions, group exercise classes, festivals, concerts, conferences and meetings. The Order went into effect at 12:01am on Wednesday, November 18,…
Through the release of a Revenue Ruling and a Revenue Procedure, the IRS re-affirmed its stance that taxpayers may not deduct payments for otherwise deductible business expenses (i.e., payroll, rent, covered utility payments, etc.) if those payments are made using Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds and the company “reasonably expects” to have their PPP loan forgiven.  See IRS Rev. Rul. 2020-27.  Notably, the IRS clarified that, for purposes of the 2020 taxable year, a taxpayer can have a reasonable expectation of PPP loan forgiveness even if they do not intend to apply for forgiveness until 2021.  As long as…
Last night, after his primetime address, Governor Evers issued Executive Order #94 which advises residents to stay home, take precautions if they have to leave their home, and encourages businesses to take additional steps to protect workers, customers, and the surrounding community. While the document is entitled as an “Order” there is no fine or penalty for failure to comply. However, Wisconsin employers should take note that failure to follow Evers’  workplace recommendations could lead to workers’ compensation, OSHA, and “Safe-place Statute” claims.  In addition, an employer who discharges an employee who complains that the order is not being followed…
On September 22, Governor Evers signed an order, Executive Order #90, declaring a public health emergency across the state, along with a mandatory mask order.  Our analysis regarding the statewide mask order is in this KEW Tips article, Governor Evers Extends Statewide Mask Order. On October 6, Andrea Palm of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, issue Emergency Order #3, limiting indoor public gatherings to 25% of maximum capacity, saving for specific exempt activities. You can see KEW’s write up of Emergency Order #3  in KEW Tips:  Wisconsin Department of Health Services Places Statewide Limits Upon Public Gatherings.…
Today by Interim Rule the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration jointly made it much easier for some Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loan borrowers to get forgiveness for their loans.  If the PPP loan amount is $50,000 or less, the borrower can get full forgiveness to the extent that the loan proceeds were used for purposes permitted under PPP.  Such borrowers can ignore any reductions in full-time equivalent employees or reductions in employee salary or wages that would otherwise apply.  Under the PPP, borrowers who have spent all of their PPP loan on permitted expenses still faced reductions in their…
Oct. 8, 2020 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled (4-3) that the Wisconsin Legislature has authority to represent the state’s interests in the validity of state laws, a win for Republicans seeking to block election extensions granted amidst COVID-19. The decision, coupled with a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, means that a prior federal district court decision to extend certain deadlines related to the November general election is no longer applicable. Today, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the extended deadlines after granting reconsideration “in light of” the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision.…
As COVID-19 cases continue a rapid increase throughout the state, Governor Evers directed the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to issue Emergency Order #3 (“EO 3”), to go into effect on October 8. EO 3 limits public gatherings throughout the state until November 6, 2020. For our Dane County readers, please note that this order does not replace current local Dane County order, which can be found at Public Health of Madison & Dane County. Also, we previously broke down the current Dane County Order KEW Tips, in our article titled: Dane County Requires Face Masks Starting July 13
Due to a sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin, Governor Tony Evers has declared a new public health emergency in addition to the previous emergency declaration made on July 30. This surge in cases has mostly affected people between the ages of 18 and 24, including those on college campuses and who have attended social gatherings. To address these concerns Gov. Evers also issued an executive order requiring Wisconsin residents who are five years old or more to wear masks or other face coverings whenever they are indoors or in enclosed spaces with people other…