Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources

Optometrists are now permitted to resume regular operations statewide, as of May 17th, 2020 

The NYSOA is committed to being a resource for members and patients of the optometric community during this difficult time.  We are gathering news, information and resources and will be updating this page regularly as we receive additional updates. Please check back frequently and feel free to contact us with questions.

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NEW CLUSTER ACTION INITIATIVE (posted 10/07/2020)

In response to the COVID-19 hotspots that have surfaced in Brooklyn, Queens, and Broome, Orange and Rockland Counties, Governor Cuomo has announced new rules and restrictions that will be in effect for a minimum of 14 days. The initiative will divide clusters and the areas around them into three categories with successively higher restrictions within each one. Click here to view the geographical location of the zones. Please note that essential businesses are permitted to remain open in all zones.

PRACTICE CONSIDERATIONS AND RESUMING REGULAR OPERATIONS

Optometrists are now permitted to resume regular operations statewide, as of May 17th, 2020.  NYSOA has compiled the following information for optometrists to consider as they plan to resume regular operations.  Additional mandates may be required by NYS and we will inform members as they become available.  Use the NY Forward Business Reopening Tool to check your county's status and get COVID-19 guidance that may apply to your business activities under your NAICS industry code.

NAICS Codes:
  • 621320 - Offices of Optometrists
  • 446130 - Optical Goods Stores

Safety Plan Required:  For businesses to provide services, New York State is requiring that they develop written Safety Plans outlining how their workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19, including requirements related to social distancing, use of personal protective equipment, hygiene and cleaning, communication, and screening.  Businesses may complete a template safety plan prepared by the State to fulfill this requirement, or they may develop their own safety plans that are compliant with the State standards.  Plans are not required to be submitted to a state agency for approval, but must be retained on the premises of the business and available to the New York State Department of Health or local health or safety authorities in the event of an inspection.

Safety Plan Template

Additional resources for resuming regular operations:

  1. COVID Considerations for Optometry Practices
  2. 10 Simple Steps to Consider when Reopening Optometric Practice
  3. NY FORWARD BOOK: A Guide to Reopening NY and Building it Back Better
  4. Map of 10 Regions of the State and List of Counties Within Each Region
  5. Regional Monitoring Dashboard
  6. NY Forward Business Reopening Tool

 PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE) TIPS & STRATEGIES

NEW YORK STATE UPDATES

Read more and get the latest at coronavirus.health.ny.gov

Please note: the NYSOA received confirmation that licensed optometrists may provide acute and emergency care to patients during the pendency of the current COVID-19 emergency.  Optometrists have been determined to be an essential health care operation provider, and the treatment of patients for such care will not be a violation of Executive Orders 202.6, 202.7, and 202.8 as such directives relate to the prohibition on workers being present at worksites. 

Optometrists should comply with best practices to limit the exposure to and the spread of COVID-19, including that all efforts are taken to reduce the person density at facilities and that social distance is maintained to the greatest extent possible under the circumstances of the care being provided; and that optometrists should follow published guidance for the cleaning and disinfection of facilities.  See New York State Department of Health Interim Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Public and Private Facilities for COVID -19 at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/03/cleaning_guidance_general_building.pdf.

Important Notes

  • Governor Cuomo signed the bill guaranteeing job protection and pay for New Yorkers who have been quarantined as a result of novel coronavirus. See the COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Statute Chart below for additional details.
  • Testing is free for all eligible New Yorkers as ordered by a health care provider.
  • Your local health department is your community contact for COVID-19 concerns.

NEW YORK STATE COVID-19 PAID SICK LEAVE STATUTE

  • Applicable to Each Employee Subject to a Mandatory or Precautionary Order of Quarantine or Isolation Issued by New York State or a Local Government Entity
  • Effective Immediately Upon Becoming a Law

Employer Size (as of 1/1/20)

Sick Leave Benefit/Duration

Terms and Conditions

1-10 employees

Unpaid sick leave (until termination of any mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation).

After 5 days of paid sick leave, employee will be eligible for Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (weekly benefit capped at $840.70 and $2,043.92, respectively).

-No loss of accrued sick leave.

-Must be compensated at regular rate of pay for regular hours.

-Job is protected, and there can be no retaliation.

-No benefits if the employee contracts virus while traveling to a country for which the CDC has a level 2 or 3 travel notice, and travel is not for the employer.

 

1-10 employees & greater than $1 million in employer net income (prior tax year)

-Unpaid sick leave (until termination of any mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation); and,

-5 days of paid sick leave.

After 5 days of paid sick leave, employee will be eligible for Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (weekly benefit capped at $840.70 and $2,043.92, respectively).

11-99 employees

-Unpaid sick leave (until termination of any mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation); and,

-5 days of paid sick leave.

After 5 days of paid sick leave, employee will be eligible for Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (weekly benefit capped at $840.70 and $2,043.92, respectively).

100 or more employees

14 days of paid sick leave.

N/A

 

NEW YORK STATE SHARED WORK PROGRAM - LAYOFF ALTERNATIVE: https://labor.ny.gov/ui/dande/sharedwork1.shtm

SUMMARY OF FEDERAL FAMILY FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT (HR 6201) 

The President has signed into law the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (known as HR 6201). The new law, effective in 15 days:

  • Enacts the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act. Employers with less than 500 employees are required to provide up to 12 weeks of leave to employees under this amendment to the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Specifically, there is a new leave entitlement under the FMLA for employees who have been employed for at least 30 calendar days and who are seeking leave because they are unable to work (or telework) due to the need to care for the son or daughter whose school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider is unavailable due to a public health emergency with respect to COVID-19 declared by a Federal, state, or local authority.
    • Employers of healthcare providers or emergency responders may exclude these employees from this new leave entitlement.
    • The Secretary of Labor may also exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employees when such leave would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.
    • The first ten days of this new leave category may be unpaid except that the employee may elect to substitute any accrued vacation, personal, medical, or sick leave in place of the unpaid leave. For all subsequent days, the employer must provide paid leave equal to at least two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay, not to exceed $200/day and $10,000 in the aggregate.
    • For employers with less than 25 employees, reinstatement will not be required if the position no longer exists due to economic conditions of the employer caused by a public health emergency, and the employer makes reasonable efforts to restore the employee to an equivalent position.
  • Enacts the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. This is a new federal emergency paid leave benefits program similar to what many states (including New Jersey and New York) enacted over the past few years. Employers must provide paid sick time to the extent the employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave because the employee:
    1. Is subject to quarantine or isolation order related to Coronavirus;
    2. Has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to Coronavirus;
    3. Is experiencing symptoms related to Coronavirus and is seeking medical diagnosis;
    4. Is caring for an individual who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order or who has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine;
    5. Is caring for a son or daughter if their school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider is unavailable due to Coronavirus; or
    6. Is experiencing any substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Labor.
  • There shall be 80 hours of paid sick time for full-time employees, and, for part-time employees, the average hours worked over a two week period. The paid sick time shall not exceed $511/day and $5,110 in the aggregate when the leave is for any of (1), (2) or (3) above; or $200/day and $2,000 in the aggregate when the leave is for any of (4), (5) or (6) above.
  • Employers of healthcare providers or emergency responders may exclude these employees from this new leave entitlement.
  • Employers may not require the use of other paid leave before the use of paid sick time.
  • It shall be unlawful to discharge, discipline, or otherwise discriminate against any employee who takes leave under this new act.
  • The Secretary of Labor may also exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employees when such leave would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.
  • Provides tax credits for the paid sick leave and paid family leave mandates placed on employers.
    • Employers would receive a tax credit equal to all paid sick leave wages and paid family medical leave wages against the 6.2% social security tax and the 1.45% Medicare tax on wages paid by the employer as to all employees, refundable in some instances, with some limits based upon the reason for the employee’s leave.
  • Enacts the Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization and Access Act. This expands unemployment benefits and provide grants to states to process and pay claims.
  • Requires employers to provide additional protections for healthcare workers. Specifically, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) would be required to issue a temporary standard requiring employers to develop and implement a comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plan to protect healthcare workers.

 

SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION OFFERING FINANCIAL RELIEF TO PRACTICES

In addition to traditional SBA funding programs, the federal CARES Act established several new temporary programs to address the COVID-19 outbreak, including the Paycheck Protection Program and the EIDL Emergency Advance.

Click here to view a comparison worksheet of the various SBA disaster loan programs (Credit: Michael Aumack, Project Manager, U.S. Small Business Administration).

Practices in 3 New York counties -- Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester -- are also eligible to apply for traditional Disaster Loan Assistance (this is based on the state or federal government having made an economic injury declaration for the particular county). Interest rates are not to exceed 4 percent and loans up to $2 million are available. The deadline to apply for a loan is December 16, 2020.

Click here to apply online and select “Economic Injury” when applying for a loan. Detailed information about loan eligibility and terms is here. Check regularly the following link for additional counties that might be added: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

LINKS AND RESOURCES

Page updated 10/07/2020.