New Executive Order Eases Rules for COVID-19 Symptoms Requiring Mandatory Sick Leave

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Yesterday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 172 to clarify requirements for when a worker has the principal symptoms of COVID-19. The new order that is a clarification to Executive Order 166 issued earlier this month — says that workers who have a known medical or physical condition causing their symptoms need not stay home.

EO 166 called for mandatory leave and expanded symptoms to include a “fever, sore throat, a new uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, new onset of a severe headache and new loss of taste or smell.”

The new directive, EO 172, offers an exemption for cases where the symptoms are explained by a known medical or physical condition.

EO 172 also says a worker should stay home if he or she has an unexplained fever, uncontrolled cough, or shortness of breath; or two or more of the following symptoms: loss of taste or smell, muscle aches, sore throat, severe headache, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

EO 166 order directed workers who have had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 to also stay home until “14 days have passed since the last close contact with the sick or symptomatic individual” or the COVID-positive co-worker tests negative.

The previous order expanded the definition of close contact from “being within approximately six feet of an individual for a prolonged period of time” to “being within six feet of an individual for fifteen minutes,” likely increasing the number of eligible workers who could stay home and quarantine without getting reprimanded at work.

Whitmer’s new order on Thursday did not make changes to the definition of “close contact.”

Whitmer’s new executive order is effective immediately.

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