An Update on COVID-19 from ASD
As you know, the United States is currently experiencing a major coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Older adults and people who may be immunocompromised face the highest risk of experiencing severe complications from the virus.
As stakeholders in self-direction, protecting the health and safety of the participants we serve is paramount. If COVID-19 is spreading in communities near you, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends avoiding large gatherings and nonessential travel. This is particularly important for older adults and people who may be immunocompromised. More CDC recommendations on steps to prevent illness can be found here.
Applied Self-Direction is maintaining close contact with federal agencies regarding emergency preparedness in self-direction and will continue to share information with members as it becomes available. For now, the list below may help states, FMS entities, and others prepare for the impact of coronavirus on programs they serve:
- Remain in close contact with your state’s aging and disability offices to stay informed regarding the latest guidance and updates.
- If you operate in a state that has declared a state of emergency, review your governor’s emergency proclamation to determine what authority is available to state personnel to suspend “business as usual” laws and regulations, and contact your state’s office of emergency preparedness to determine what steps may reasonably be taken for programs in which you operate.
- Consider any steps that can be legally and reasonably taken to protect beneficiaries’ health and safety. For example, is it possible to conduct in-person meetings over the phone or internet? Can the review process for participants’ COVID-19-related service plan modification requests be expedited?
- Remind participants to review their emergency backup plans and make any needed changes in the event their primary caregiver is unable to come to work.
- Remind participants to communicate to their staff that they should not show up to work if they feel sick or are displaying symptoms of COVID-19. According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, shortness of breath, and coughing.
- For programs that use Agency with Choice FMS, the Agency with Choice FMS entity is usually covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The Department of Labor has prepared a short FAQ about COVID-19 and employers’ FMLA obligations available here.
- The Department of Labor has also released reminder guidance for employers related to Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) obligations during the COVID-19 outbreak, available here. In short, workers in self-direction who are paid on an hourly or otherwise non-salaried basis are not required to be paid under the FLSA when they are unable to work due to illness. Only hours worked by these employees must be paid under the FLSA.
We hope you, your families, and the participants you serve stay safe and healthy during this difficult time, and we will continue to share COVID-19 information as it emerges.
Updated on 03/17/2020