Employers face more mixed messages when it comes to bringing employees back after the pandemic, the people of Japan and the IOC disagree about going forward with the Olympics, and a dog’s nose knows COVID-19.
Vaccination Question Confusion
For months employers have been asking if they can, or should, require employees to get vaccinated before returning to work. Now, some local governments are going a step beyond that and deciding what an employer can ask employees about their vaccination status.
Just like all of the other COVID-19 regulations, they vary wildly across the country. Here are a couple of recent examples.
Earlier this month, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill into law that protects an individual’s vaccination status. This means employers are prohibited from requiring employees to disclose whether they’ve been vaccinated or not. The bill was signed on May 7th and went into effect immediately.
On the flip side of the coin, the health officer in Santa Clara County, California issued an order requiring businesses to ask employees about their status and to keep records of their answers. On June 15th California will drop most pandemic restrictions. The state’s workplace safety board is considering allowing only those who are vaccinated to take off the mask, but keeping the rules in place for those who are not.
Is there a definitive right or wrong answer when it comes to asking this question? In December, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published guidance that said asking someone if they are vaccinated doesn’t violate any federal laws unless an employer is trying to dig for information regarding protected disabilities.
While life keeps inching back to normal here in the States, things are not going so well in Japan. Only 5% of the population has been vaccinated, and they are now seeing a surge of cases in major cities. The entire country is under a state of emergency until May 31st, and the U.S. State Department has even added Japan to its Do Not Travel list.
But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) says the Tokyo Games will still go on. That gives Japan until the end of July to get things under control. The IOC has offered to vaccinate athletes and other participants, but that may not be enough to ease the worry.
Even though hundreds of thousands of people have signed a petition calling for the Games to be canceled, others are protesting, and spectators from outside of Japan are banned, the IOC still insists the games can be held safely.
Man’s Best Friend to the Rescue
Sorry cat lovers! Dogs have just added another cool skill to their long list of ways to help the humans!
According to a French study, dogs are able to sniff out COVID-19 cases in people with 97% accuracy. The study compared two screening methods, the PCR test with that long nasal swab that everybody hates, and the canine olfactory test. In the latter, 300 volunteers held a compress under their arms for two minutes. The compress was sealed in a jar until it could be sniffed by the dogs. The dogs detected true positives nearly every time.
Even though EBI doesn’t employ dogs – yet – we do have rapid COVID-19 tests if you need a quick and easy way to test on-site.