Guide for Governors Focuses on Reopening Economy, Building Health Infrastructure

April 24, 2020

The National Governors Association published a 10-step guide for governors to build public health infrastructure and reopen the economy, with several recommendations for setting standards or requirements for employers on issues such as sick leave benefits and surveillance.

The issues and recommendations that would most directly impact large employers include: 

  • Protecting essential workers:  The report urges governors to set standards for different categories of workers to ensure their safety.  Examples of recommended standards include redesigning the work environment, providing hazard pay, providing supplies for cleaning, access to recommended masks, and sick leave benefits. 
  • Testing:  In addition to partnering with commercial entities to build out testing capacity, the guide recommends pursuing public-private partnerships to establish drive-through and walk-up testing sites for wider access across communities.
  • Surveillance:  The guide suggests that states consider encouraging or requiring private employers to report on the number of known cases of COVID-19, number of workers out for isolation and quarantine, and general employee absenteeism for illness.  These data would help inform population-based surveillance and decision making on reopening.
  • Criteria and stages for reopening:  In developing criteria, the report urges state officials to obtain input directly from businesses to assess the risk of different activities.  Key criteria include contact intensity, the number of contacts, and the modification potential of each activity.  The guide further suggests:

    • Potential modifications for discussion, including telework, increased number of shifts, curbside customer interaction, hands free technology, the ability to distance customers and the ability to distance staff; and 

    • State-created checklists for employers to accomplish physical distancing, engineering controls (such as hands-free technology), administrative controls (such as decreased customer interactions), and PPE requirements.