NY HERO Act Designation of COVID-19 Ended
March 18, 2022
On March 18, 2022, the NYS Department of Labor updated its NY HERO Act website to confirm that the NYS Commissioner of Health’s designation of COVID-19 as a “highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health” ended on March 17, 2022.
As previously reported, the NY HERO Act requires all private employers in New York State to adopt a compliant airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan (Plan). The law requires that employers activate or implement their Plan when the NYS Commissioner of Health designates an airborne infectious disease or agent as a “highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health.” The NYS Commissioner of Health first issued such a designation on Sept. 6, 2021 and continued to extend the designation most frequently through 30 day extensions through March 17, 2022. In deciding whether to continue the designation, the NYS Commissioner of Health referenced the CDC community spread, and referencing when the State was identified as an area of “high” or “substantial” transmission. Accordingly, it comes at relatively no surprise that in light of the most recently reported data on the CDC’s website indicating that most, if not all of the state of New York is identified as an area of “low” transmission, that the Commissioner of Health decided not to continue the designation.
While this news means that private employers no longer need to have their Airborne Infectious Disease Prevention Plans in place, employers should not forget that there are other obligations under this part of the NY HERO Act (NY Labor Law Section 218-b) that remain even when no designation is in effect. These obligations include: creating an airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan (if a business is new, new to doing business in the state, or otherwise has not adopted a plan); giving a copy of the Plan to employees within 30 days after creating one; giving a copy of the Plan to any new employees when they are hired; posting the Plan in each work site so employees can view it; and updating the Plan as necessary.