By Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch
What should you do if NO ONE is wearing mask at work? My son went back to work today. Not one person, except him, is wearing a mask. What recourse does he have — without losing his job?
It’s a contract company, and they place people at auto dealerships. The mechanics and support staff service the executive’s cars, not the public’s cars. Those executives are not at work.
My son said they did clean his office space in the middle of the day. He’s wearing a mask. The other eight people are not wearing them.
Concerned Mother in New Jersey
Two little words: “Six feet!” You can say it with a smile and you can also say it like you mean it. Those two things are not mutually exclusive. Your son could call Human Resources, put up a sign in common areas quoting the state’s official policy on wearing face masks at work and, failing that, he could report the company to New Jersey’s authorities.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order last month, requiring workers and customers to wear cloth face coverings while at work, “except where doing so would inhibit that individual’s health or where the individual is under two years of age, and require workers to wear gloves when in contact with customers or goods.”
“Businesses must provide, at their expense, such face coverings and gloves for their employees,” according to the policy . Where an individual declines to wear a face covering on store premises “due to a medical condition that inhibits such usage,” neither the essential business nor its staff may require that person to produce medical documentation verifying their condition.
Dispatches from a pandemic: Letter from New York: ‘New Yorkers wear colorful homemade masks, while nurses wear garbage bags. When I hear an ambulance, I wonder if there’s a coronavirus patient inside. Are there more 911 calls, or do I notice every distant siren?’
Your son is one of many workers grappling with such issues. Gov. Murphy, a Democrat, last month gave out a number to lodge complaints against employers in the state that may be violating Executive Order No. 107 (EO 107) for employers in an age of coronavirus. So many people called the number that it was withdrawn. Your son can now file a report online.
SARS-CoV-2 is detectable in the air for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to 2 to 3 days on plastic and stainless steel, according to a paper published in The New England Journal of Medicine. It was coauthored by scientists at the National Institutes of Health, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, UCLA and Princeton University.
You’re right: We are responsible for ourselves and each other. Your son can take many additional precautions in an effort to stay healthy, and preserve his peace of mind. Among the most important: Maintain a six-feet distance from other colleagues, wash his hands after touching communal objects, wear goggles and, with the help of his mask, remember not to touch his face.
The Trump administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed their policies on face mask on April 3 when they said all Americans should wear cloth face coverings and not — as it previously said — just medical workers. President Donald Trump cited “recent studies” of asymptomatic transmission for the U-turn, while the CDC cited “new evidence.”
Unlike Gov Murphy’s executive order, the federal government’s recommendations are voluntary. Nor does it help that the top-down messaging is confusing. President Trump signaled his resistance to wearing a mask. “I don’t think I’m going to be doing it,” he said. What’s more, Vice President Mike Pence did not wear a mask at the Mayo Clinic on Tuesday, causing a widespread backlash.
Nor is the science conclusive. Some studies say masks help reduce contagion by cutting down on droplets sprayed into the air, but Paul Glasziou, a professor of medicine at Bond University in Australia, and Chris Del Mar, a professor of public health at Bond, analyzed a dozen studies on face masks. They concluded : “Face masks may not do much without eye protection.”
In the meantime, your son can take action, both in person and/or anonymously.
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