Puerto Rico Requires Employers to Report COVID-19 Cases

Governor Wanda Vazquez Garced has issued an executive order requiring businesses to report suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 to the Puerto Rico Department of Health.

The order also extends the curfew until August 15.

Puerto Rico businesses will continue to restrict sales of alcohol from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., as well as extending closures of businesses that tend to encourage crowds of people, such as bars, clubs, casinos, and gyms.

Resurgence of coronavirus

Puerto Rico’s cases of COVID-19 began to climb at the end of June, rising above 5.1% positive test results. This is the threshold that the World Heath Organization has set as a signal that regions need to impose restrictions.

Puerto Rico has now had 19,651 cases of COVID-19, and 296 deaths. This works out to 5,802 cases per million and 73 deaths per million, in terms of population. These numbers are smaller than those seen in States with similar populations, such as Utah (100 deaths per million) and Iowa (283 deaths per million). Puerto Rico has taken stricter measures than most States. (Data from Worldometer.)

It is also reported that community transmission – not tourists – is responsible for most of the spike in cases.

Reporting required

The new order says, “It will be the obligation of each person, including business owners, to immediately report suspicious and confirmed cases of COVID-19 among their employee staff to the Department of Health.”

The Department of Health is working on a procedure for reporting these cases.

OSHA guidance for the pandemic does not include reporting requirements, though employers are in some cases required to track cases internally. Nor are there federal requirements for reporting. Some States, such as California, have reporting requirements in some circumstances, but Puerto Rico’s new law appears to be the first comprehensive reporting requirement in the United States.

Precautions enforced

Common precautions such as the wearing of masks and social distancing will continue to be required. People who do not comply may face criminal charges.

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