Published on: 04/01/2020
Dear Research Foundation Employee:
We are closely monitoring the latest updates and developments regarding the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), a respiratory illness causing flu-like symptoms. We will continue to provide updates regularly and keep you informed.
As always, the Research Foundation is following the recommendations of the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Following their guidance, the information below addresses questions we have received on the Research Foundation’s policies and guidelines.
Please note that the rapidly evolving nature of this public health situation necessitates frequent assessment, evaluation and modification of our policies and plans, which are fluid and subject to change at any time. RFCUNY is working closely with CUNY to provide the most up-to-date guidance. To keep current, please check back frequently with this or CUNY’s web page (https://www.cuny.edu/coronavirus/) for additional information and updates.
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Research Foundation employees are urged to avoid travel to locations with a CDC warning of “Level 3” (Avoid Nonessential Travel). Depending on your travel history, you will be asked to stay home for a period of 14 days from the time you left an area with widespread or ongoing community spread (Level 3 Travel Health Notice).
As of March 25, 2019, the following countries have a Level 3 Travel Health Notice (widespread, ongoing transmission):
A Level 2 Alert has been assigned to all other global travel.
For more information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
Planning for and returning from travel in Level 3 or Level 2 countries
Following CDC guidelines, everyone in the RFCUNY community is advised to avoid all non-essential travel to countries under a CDC Level 3 warning, cautions high-risk travelers against visiting countries with a Level 2 designation and generally asks its employees to use common sense in making travel plans during these challenging times. Anyone with international travel plans should check with the CDC’s Travel Health Notices (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html) for the latest guidance and recommendations for the country of travel.
The U.S. government has taken strict measures regarding coronavirus, including suspending entry into the United States of foreign nationals who have visited a Level 3 country within the past 14 days. Measures to quarantine and/or test for the virus those who have been in a Level 3 country within 14 days and are allowed entry into the United States (U.S. citizens, legal residents and their families) are also being implemented.
Employees returning from a country designated as “Level 3” or “Level 2” by the CDC must contact Human Resources by phone or email before returning to work.
What to do if you display symptoms
If you display symptoms of a respiratory infection — such as a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath — within 14 days after returning from a country under a CDC Level 3 warning, or after close contact with someone who has recently traveled to one of those places and is displaying symptoms, you should immediately seek medical care. Call ahead and tell your health care provider about your symptoms before going to the doctor’s office. Your health care provider may screen you over the phone and will work with public health officials to determine if you need to be tested for coronavirus.
RFCUNY’s health insurance carrier, Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield, is waiving copays, coinsurance and deductibles and prior authorization will extend to this focused test used to diagnose COVID-19 when medically necessary.
An employee who is sick and exhibiting symptoms of acute respiratory illness should stay home and not come to work until he/she is free of fever [100.4° F (37.8° C) or greater using an oral thermometer] and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines.
Employees should notify their supervisors and keep them informed of the employee’s absence. For the health and safety of all employees, staff members who report to work exhibiting these symptoms may be sent home.
Everyone can do their part to help minimize the potential impact of this emerging public health threat. You should go about your daily life, but take the same precautions that you would during cold and flu season:
Extra attention has been given to the restocking of hand sanitizers, soaps and other cleaning supplies. Signage regarding proper hygiene (washing hands and covering coughs, etc.) has been displayed in restrooms and common areas.
Accommodating affected employees
The Research Foundation’s Office of Human Resources will work with Principal Investigators and Project Directors to accommodate, to the reasonable extent possible, employees who are affected by this outbreak.
If you feel anxious or are worried about friends and family because of the news about coronavirus, we encourage you to contact the Research Foundation’s Employee Assistance Program, Health Advocate.
Equity and Inclusion
We want to take this opportunity to remind our diverse RFCUNY community that we are an organization that takes pride in its welcoming environment and unwavering promotion of the values of equity and inclusion. These challenging times are not an excuse to behave any differently towards those with who we serve, live and work. Any staff who experience discrimination of any kind are urged to speak with RFCUNY’s Office of Human Resources.
We recommend regularly checking the following resources for updates:
New York State Department of Health
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization
Supporting At-Home Children. Resources for Parents.
For more information from our health insurance carrier, Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield:
Please be assured that we are taking this possible threat very seriously and we are actively making and updating plans to ensure employee safety, as well as continuity of our business and operations across a range of possible scenarios. As the situation evolves, we will provide you with the most up-to-date information.