Six Feet of Separation in Reopening Offices Won’t Stop Virus

May 13, 2020, 5:51 PM

Here are the day’s top coronavirus stories from the team at Bloomberg Law:

  • REOPENING WORKPLACES: Businesses face a range of challenges to prevent the spread of the virus as workplaces begin to reopen—from figuring out how to change air circulation patterns to deciding the fate of the community coffee pot. But few Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules directly apply to offices, and voluntary guidance from government agencies has been sparse.
  • NURSING HOME GUIDELINES: Reports that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is crafting guidelines and regulatory criteria that could allow nursing homes to let visitors enter have prompted concerns about putting vulnerable residents in more danger. Health industry experts want more details about how nursing homes now under lockdown to outsiders will be reopened, even as outbreaks continue to ravage the facilities.
  • RELIEF FOR COLLEGES: U.S. universities are seeking targeted tax relief after sending students home and wrapping up the spring semester via webcam. The need for such relief is mounting as the pandemic has slowed donations, shuttered campuses, and pushed the return of college sports far into the future.

Editor’s Top Picks

Big Four Sketching a Playbook for Post-Pandemic Workspace
The largest U.S. accounting firms are preparing for an eventual return to the workplace even as they continue to keep their armies of accountants, auditors, and consultants at home. When offices do eventually reopen, masks, temperature checks, and contact tracing apps to monitor interactions could await workers.

Premiums’ Full Price May Leave 6 Million Without Health Coverage
Nearly 6 million people who lost their jobs in recent months may have to pay the full cost of health coverage and could end up uninsured. That finding from the Kaiser Family Foundation based on unemployment figures of more than 31 million people who have filed claims highlights the difficulty many people will face keeping coverage.

Apple-Google Virus-Tracking Rules Put Apps in a Privacy Bind
Government apps designed to help track and slow the spread of Covid-19 are struggling to accomplish their goals because of restrictions on data collection built into smartphones by Apple Inc. and Google. That’s leaving health officials with few options but to use a system designed by tech giants already under scrutiny for antitrust violations and other practices.

Medical Providers Sue Michigan Governor Over Shut-Down Orders
Three health-care practices and a patient in Michigan want the state to reopen, telling a federal court that Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer overstepped her bounds by extending emergency orders that prohibit all nonessential medical treatments.

New York, Trump Lawyers Square Off in Virus Paid Leave Lawsuit
A federal judge will soon decide whether to expand a new federal paid leave rule to cover health-care workers and others affected by the outbreak, after listening to arguments in the New York Attorney General’s Office lawsuit over the regulation. The Labor Department restrictions deny paid leave to low-wage health-care aides and to workers whose bosses determine there’s no work available.

Paul Manafort Released to Home Confinement Over Virus Fears
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was released from prison to home confinement as part of an effort to protect inmates from the coronavirus, according to his lawyer, Kevin Downing. The Justice Department signaled it would send certain inmates in federal penitentiaries, including non-violent white collar criminals, to serve time from home to slow the outbreak.

Tesla Plant Buzzing a Week Ahead of Permit to Resume Operations
California’s Alameda County said Tesla Inc. could reopen its lone U.S. plant next week, But the plant has already been operating for days, and the county’s move offers little clarity on whether the company is currently in violation of local lockdown measures.

Covid-Test Servicer Sues Over ‘As Seen on TV’ Hand Sanitizer
Healthvana Inc., whose digital health platform includes Covid-19 test result delivery, contact tracing, and reporting services, sued the marketing company that created the “As Seen On TV” logo for trademark infringement in federal court. The complaint targets Telebrands Corp.'s “Healthvana” hand sanitizer.

INSIGHT: Corporate Governance Is Key for Troubled Businesses
The pandemic is negatively impacting business across the board—already struggling businesses are being pushed into insolvency and previously healthy companies are experiencing a new time of financial distress. Proskauer Rose attorneys say it’s more important now than ever that directors exercise good corporate governance to keep their business afloat and avoid liability.

INSIGHT: Telemedicine Rules Should Be Permanently Eased
Medicare and state telemedicine restrictions have been eased during the pandemic, and these changes need to be made permanent, writes former congressman Rick Boucher, honorary chair of the Internet Innovation Alliance.

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Editor’s Note: The Bloomberg Law news team has been closely covering the legal, regulatory, business, and tax implications of the coronavirus pandemic. This daily email highlights the top stories of the day, across practice areas. To unsubscribe, please adjust your Bloomberg Law newsletter settings. For assistance, contact our help desk at 888-560-2529 or help@bloomberglaw.com.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghashyam Mali in Washington at mmali@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com

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