COVID-19 Update 3/31/2021

With the increase in the availability of COVID-19 vaccines we are continuing to see rapid changes in the eligibility of individuals for the vaccine, travel advisories, and the availability for paid time off.  We wanted to provide our employees an update with the latest information.  This information will undoubtedly continue to change.  We will attempt to provide updates as things change.  If you see conflicting information, please contact us for clarification.

Vaccines

The CDC and Department of Health strongly recommend COVID-19 vaccines to protect the health of individuals as well as the health of those around them.  We are encouraging all Charter employees to seek out and obtain a vaccine unless otherwise directed by your health care provider or because of a disability or sincerely held religious belief.  We understand that the decision to get a vaccine is a personal one and we will not be mandating vaccines for our employees.  It is possible that our customers or regulatory agencies could put requirements in place related to vaccines.  We will communicate these changes as they occur.

The State of Oregon has updated their roll-out plan for the vaccine.  The following are Oregon eligibility dates that apply to Charter employees.

  • Frontline workers, including those in construction – No Later Than April 5th.
  • All people 16 and older – No later than May 1st.

The Washington requirements are similar, but availability for essential workers is still tentative.  They do expect all adults to be eligible by no later than May 1st.

Given your personal situation, you may qualify for vaccines sooner than these dates.   Be aware that as vaccines continue to become available, there may be changes in this schedule. The current Oregon vaccine plan is available at https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19 .  The Washington plan is available at https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/VaccineInformation/AllocationandPrioritization .  Both states provide tools to understand your individual eligibility for a vaccine and to receive a notification when you are eligible at,

We encourage employees to register on these sites.  Many individuals have been able to access vaccines ahead of their currently scheduled eligibility date.

The CDC, Oregon, and Washington are beginning to loosen some restrictions for those individuals who are “fully vaccinated”.  To be considered fully vaccinated, an individual must meet the following conditions:

  • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, like Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine

If it has been less than 2 weeks since your shot, or if you still need to get your second dose, you are NOT considered fully vaccinated.

Fully vaccinated individuals may not be subject to the requirements to quarantine following exposure to an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 or the requirements to quarantine following travel between states.

Travel Advisories and Restrictions

Oregon and Washington have updated their travel advisories consistent with the CDC guidelines.

Charter Mechanical’s travel policy will remain in effect until the CDC, State governments and our customers notify us that it is no longer required.  Until that time, individuals who have traveled internationally, may not be present in a Charter facility or jobsite until they have completed a 14-day quarantine period and are free of COVID-19 symptoms.   Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last three months or who have been fully vaccinated within the last three months do not have to quarantine following international travel, as long as they do not develop symptoms.  We defined what is required to be fully vaccinated above.

Oregon, Washington and California have enacted further guidance for travel between states.  In Oregon and Washington the travel advisory states:

Persons arriving in Oregon and Washington from other states or countries from non-essential travel, including returning Oregon residents, should practice self-quarantine after arrival.  Employees can return to work if they do not have symptoms under one of the following conditions:

  • After 10 days, without any testing

OR

  • After 7 days, if they receive a negative test result from an antigen or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that was conducted within 48 hours of the end of the 7-day period.

These persons should limit their interactions to their immediate household. This recommendation does not apply to individuals who cross state or country borders for essential travel.

Non-essential travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.

Essential travel includes: work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.

Individuals arriving in Oregon to come to work (travelers) are considered essential travel and are exempt from the quarantine.  Likewise, individuals who commute to Oregon from adjacent states are also exempt.

Quarantine recommendations do not apply to individuals arriving to Oregon or Washington from other states or countries or residents returning from other states or countries if they have been fully vaccinated and have no symptoms.  The definition of the requirements to be fully vaccinated are included above.

Individuals should monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms during the 14 days after travel and, if symptoms develop, they should self-isolate and seek testing.

FFCRA Paid Time Off

Under the American Rescue Plan signed into law on March 11th, Charter will be able to continue to provide employees with paid time off for COVID-19 related issues.  The program was scheduled to end on March 31st.  Beginning on April 1st, employees will qualify for paid time off based on the previously identified COVID-19 issues and will also qualify for paid time off for several reasons related to vaccines.

The full list of qualifying reasons is provided below:

  1. is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  3. is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
  5. is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19;
  6. is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury;
  7. After April 1stseeking or waiting for the results of a COVID-19 diagnosis because of exposure to COVID-19 or an employer requested COVID-19 test;
  8. After April 1streceiving a vaccination for COVID-19; and
  9. After April 1strecovering from any injury, disability, illness or condition related to such vaccination.

If an employee has already used their available paid time off, they may be eligible for additional time off.  There continue to be limitations on the number of hours available and the maximum rate of pay.  The DOL is working through additional details of the benefits.  We will update the information as we receive additional details.  If you have questions regarding FFCRA paid time off, please contact your supervisor or Pete Lowry.

Conclusion

We appreciate all your hard work over the past year and want to thank you in advance for your continued vigilance.

We know that the pandemic has touched all of us in one way or another.  Regardless of how we have been impacted it is important that we all take advantage of support when we need it.  To assist our employees, there are two Employee Assistance Plans available to Charter employees.  Our employees who are Local 290 members and their dependents have access to a program offered through First Choice Health.  Our non-union employees have access to support through Cascade Centers.  Contact information for these programs is included below.  Both programs provide counseling and assistance for many areas that may affect us in our personal lives and at work, including counseling for grief, loss, anxiety, and depression, marital and family Counseling, legal and financial consultations, and substance abuse counseling.  We encourage you to take advantage of these programs and to share them with your dependents and those you work with.

 Cascade Centers EAP

First Choice Health EAP

  • For Local 290 members and their dependents.
  • Link – www.FirstChoiceEAP.com – the Username is: local290
  • Call – (800) 777-4114
  • Additional information is available from UA Local 290

 

 

COVID-19 Update 3/3/2021

As we near the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to provide an update on recent changes in restrictions, guidelines, and plans that affect all of us.

Among Charter employees we saw an increase in positive cases following Thanksgiving and again after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.  Since mid-January we have seen a decrease in the number of cases and employees identified through contact tracing.  These trends match the history that has been experienced in Oregon.  The statewide reductions have resulted in adjustments to the restrictions on many activities in our personal lives and give us real hope that the levels of community spread are decreasing.

As things in many of our personal lives begin to return to a more normal level, with some schools having children attend in person again, restaurants increasing in-person dining, and gyms and movie theaters reopening, it is important that we continue to adhere to the guidelines that have helped protect all of us at work and in our personal lives:

  • Staying home when sick;
  • Paying attention to proper hygiene, including hand washing;
  • Maintaining proper physical distancing from others;
  • And, the use of face coverings at all times and locations.

We must also continue to adhere to all the requirements for testing and quarantines that we have used to limit the spread of the virus.  If you have tested positive, or have developed symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting or diarrhea, or new loss of taste or smell, or are caring for someone with symptoms of COVID-19, please:

  • Stay home, or go home immediately if already in the workplace;
  • Inform your foreman, project manager, or supervisor by phone;
  • Consult with your health care provider for guidance
  • And, where possible, complete testing for the COVID-19 virus. A list of recommended testing suppliers is available.

Travel Advisories and Restrictions

While the numbers have improved in Oregon, there are still several important restrictions on travel that will continue to affect our employees.

Anyone traveling from, or returning home from, another country must quarantine and cannot return to work for 14 days following their arrival in Oregon.  This is a requirement established by Charter’s customers and covers both non-essential and essential travel.

Further, Oregon continues to have a travel advisory in place for travel from out of state for non-essential travel.  It states that individuals arriving in Oregon from other states, including returning Oregon residents, should practice self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival.  Alternatively, individuals returning to Oregon may consider ending quarantine early if they have not had any symptoms after 10 days without testing or after 7 days if they receive a negative test that was conducted within 48 hours of the end of the 7-day period.  Employees should consult with their health care provider on their ability to return to work.  Non-essential travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.

The Oregon travel advisory does not apply to individuals who cross state or country borders for essential travel, which includes travel for work or study and includes daily commutes across state borders.

If you have specific questions regarding travel restrictions, please contact your supervisor.

Vaccines

The CDC and health experts strongly recommend the COVID-19 vaccines to protect the health of individuals as well the health of those around them.  We are encouraging all employees of Charter to seek out and obtain a vaccine unless otherwise directed by your health care provider or religious beliefs.  As more individuals obtain the vaccine, we, as a company and a society, will be able to move closer to more normal activities.  We understand that the decision to get a vaccine is a personal one and we will not be mandating vaccines for our employees.  It is possible that our customers or regulatory agencies could put requirements in place related to vaccines.  We will communicate these if they occur.

Based on the current limited availability of vaccines, the State of Oregon has developed a phased approach to designate who qualifies for a vaccine.  Current groups that qualify are

  • staff for hospitals, long-term care facilities, and most other health care professionals,
  • childcare providers and K-12 educators and staff,
  • and individuals 65 and older.

Based on Oregon’s latest vaccine rollout information, individuals working in the construction industry are considered essential workers and will qualify for vaccines in Group 7 on May 1st.    Given your personal situation, you may qualify for vaccines sooner.   Be aware that as vaccines continue to become more available, there may be changes in this schedule. The current Oregon vaccine plan is available at https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19 .  To better understand your individual eligibility for a vaccine and to receive a notification when you are eligible, the Get Vaccinated Oregon tool can be found at https://getvaccinated.oregon.gov/#/ .

FFCRA Paid Time Off

The FFCRA paid time off program that was established last March and was extended at the end of 2020, has allowed Charter to provide paid time off for employees who are impacted by the coronavirus.  To date, we have used this program to compensate over 114 employees for time away from work.  This has not only protected our employees pay when they experience issues but has also encouraged employees to stay home to protect other Charter employees and our customers.  This program is scheduled to end on March 31st, 2021 and we will be discontinuing the paid time off program at that time.  We have seen the need for the program decrease recently and are hopeful that the end of this program will impact a minimum number of employees.

Remote Work

Where we have individuals working remotely, there has been some limited change to the state requirements for remote work.  If you believe that a return to the office on a part time or regular basis would be beneficial, please check with your supervisor and see if that can be accommodated.

Conclusion

While we have all been under the COVID restrictions much longer than we had hoped and it is easy to take the decreasing case numbers as a sign of the end, it is important that we all continue to be diligent in protecting ourselves, our loved ones, and our co-workers from exposure to COVID-19.

We appreciate all your hard work over the past year and want to thank you in advance for your continued vigilance.

We know that the pandemic has touched all of us in one way or another.  Regardless of how we have been impacted it is important that we acknowledge and take advantage of support when we need it.  To assist our employees, there are two Employee Assistance Plans available to Charter employees.  Our employees who are Local 290 members and their dependents have access to a program offered through First Choice Health.  Our non-union employees have access to support through Cascade Centers.  Contact information for these programs is included below.  Both programs provide counseling and assistance for many areas that may affect us in our personal lives and at work, including counseling for grief, loss, anxiety, and depression, marital and family Counseling, legal and financial consultations, and substance abuse counseling.  We encourage you to take advantage of these programs and to share them with your dependents and those you work with.

 

Cascade Centers EAP

 

First Choice Health EAP

  • For Local 290 members and their dependents.
  • Link – www.FirstChoiceEAP.com – the Username is: local290
  • Call – (800) 777-4114
  • Additional information is available from UA Local 290