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As we previously reported, on September 6, 2021, New York State Commissioner of Health Howard A. Zucker issued a designation determining COVID-19 to be “a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health in New York State.” The commissioner’s designation required employers to activate their airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans in accordance with the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO Act).

The initial designation, which was in effect until September 30, 2021, has been extended. The current designation is effective until October 31, 2021, at which time the commissioner “will review the level of transmission of COVID-19 in New York State and determine whether to continue this designation.”

As a result of the continuation of the designation, employers that have not yet adopted exposure prevention plans may wish to complete that activity given the passage of the August 5, 2021, deadline for doing so. In addition, employers may wish to continue to monitor information from the New York State Department of Labor (NYS DOL) concerning the NY HERO Act, including the expected guidance concerning the act’s section 2, which becomes effective on November 1, 2021. Section 2 of the NY HERO Act requires employers with 10 or more employees to allow employees to establish joint labor-management workplace safety committees to “review workplace policies relating to occupational safety and health” and raise safety and health concerns.

Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and will post updates in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.


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