The idea of going back to work like we did before the COVID-19 pandemic might seem surreal after all this time self-isolating. That said, a number of states and cities are starting to cautiously open up businesses and let employees leave their residences to work again. Without access to widespread testing or contact tracing, however, the same worry that has been keeping us all home remains top of mind.
Our ability to dodge exposure to the novel coronavirus depends a lot on which sector we're working. Caretakers in nursing homes, meat-packing and poultry processing workers, and health care professionals have been hit hardest by this outbreak, but reports indicate that even politics isn't a safe haven. While we're still learning a lot about this particular disease, we do know that staying in close contact with lots of other people in areas with poor ventilation is a good to get sick. That describes any number of offices and workplaces.
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The Los Angeles Times asked who should be responsible if you get sick with COVID at your workplace. While Congress is working to pass a national policy, right now it's in the hands of each individual state. However, the good news is that certain governors have released executive orders that place the burden of proof on an employer — e.g., that your workplace has to affirmatively prove it's not their fault. Look for updates about workers' compensation laws in your state, and get in touch with local officials if you're still not sure.
Finally, if you or someone in your household comes down with coronavirus, you're eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance through the federal CARES Act. Check in with your state's unemployment office to learn more.