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Back to Work: Planning for COVID-19 Impacts in the U.S. Through 2021

September 2, 2020

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The United States had hoped that industries (and life in general) would be “back to normal” by now after being impacted by COVID-19.  Society has endured this global pandemic for over six months, and while there have been improvements and efforts to allow certain businesses to reopen, there is no clear end in sight.

Current Events

Recent trends confirm that the impacts from COVID-19 will continue.  While death rates in states like New York[1] and Arizona[2] are decreasing, states like Georgia[3] and Florida[4] are seeing climbing infection rates.  Local hotspots like Danbury, Connecticut, have emerged,[5] and eight states (thus far) have had spikes in cases caused by the large Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota.[6]  In response, some states and local governments are implementing controls.  For example, Illinois is taking some preventative safety measures,[7] and Oahu, Hawaii issued a two-week lockdown to address increasing infection rates.[8] 

The important

FDA Reaches Voluntary Agreement with Manufacturers to Phase Out Certain Short-Chain PFAS in Food Packaging

August 12, 2020

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced that manufacturers of certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) used for grease proofing in paper and paperboard for food packaging (for example, as coatings on some fast food wrappers, to-go boxes, and pizza boxes) have voluntarily agreed to phase out sales of these substances for use as food contact substances in the United States, following new analyses of data raising questions about potential human health risks from chronic dietary exposure.

Starting in January 2021, three manufacturers will begin a three-year phase out of their sales of certain substances that contain 6:2 FTOH for use as food contact substances in the U.S. marketplace.  It may take up to 18 months after the phase-out period to exhaust existing stocks of paper and paperboard products containing these food contact substances from the market. A fourth manufacturer informed the FDA in 2019 that

States Use Re-Closures, Pause Orders, and Travel Restrictions to Combat Increased COVID-19 Case Counts

The United States has seen an 82% increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases since two weeks ago, and has set daily new case records four times in the last week.  The bulk of the increased case counts are coming from states in the South and West, including Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, and Texas, along with others.  The increased case counts come at a time when many of those states are still in the middle of their reopening plans, and have raised questions about whether industries will continue opening, or whether the increased case counts will lead to re-closures.

While every state’s approach is different, the following trends have developed over the last week.

1. Business Re-Closures

Several states have recently decided to re-close, or significantly restrict certain businesses.

State Steps Taken Arizona Closed fitness centers, nightclubs, water parks, movie theaters, tubing rentals, and bars for 30 days (June

Boise, Idaho Is First In The Nation To Reintroduce COVID-19 Business Closures

Ada County’s New Restrictions

The move back to Phase III triggers the closure of nightclubs, bars, and large venues.  Some bar owners had already begun implementing temperature screenings, plastic barriers between patrons and bartenders, and constant cleaning of handrails and doorknobs, but the Central District Health division of the Idaho District Board of Health still determined that closures are necessary.  Gatherings of more than 50 people are also no longer allowed.  In addition, out of state visitors are required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Why is the relevant for businesses outside of Ada County?

It is the first example of a jurisdiction re-closing businesses, and a sign that a trend in that direction may be coming, particularly in the bar and nightclub industries.  The move also signals that infection rates may be the main driver for health officials who are making those closure decisions, and provides at least one data

U.S. Reopening Information

U.S. Reopening Information

June 3, 2020

Authored by: Tom Lee and John Kindschuh

The United States has seen a wave of unprecedented restrictions on the way we do business and conduct our daily lives, designed to control the risks posed by COVID-19. These changes have caused uncertainty and disruption in the business community, as well as up and down supply chains. States are now issuing orders and guidance on the path back to work, and towards a new normal.

We have prepared the map and checklist below as a general reference resource to help companies get a sense for how their industry is being regulated in each of the 50 states. The information below is current as of the date listed on the map and chart, but is intended as the first, rather than last, step in a business’ effort to decide how and when to reopen a facility. The map and chart only reflect statewide orders, and there may be more restrictive local orders. Even those

Shutdown, Shelter in Place, and Back to Work Orders in the U.S.: Current Status

The United States has seen a wave of unprecedented restrictions on the way we do business and conduct our daily lives, designed to control the risks posed by COVID-19.  These changes have caused uncertainty and disruption in the business community, as well as up and down supply chains.

We are helping our clients across the country, and internationally, answer the key questions raised by these new orders:

  • Can I continue to operate some or all of my facilities?
  • What do I need to do to ensure that my employees can continue to come to work safely?
  • What do I need to do to ensure that I get the goods and services that I need to continue operating?
  • How do I manage the employment and HR implications of a limited or complete closure?
  • Are there any programs offering financial relief?

The map below represents the different orders across the

Nationwide Implications of CDC and NJ Updated Workplace Requirements

Recent state and federal developments are a reminder that the COVID-19 landscape is continually changing and demonstrate that businesses must remain alert and nimble as they address rapidly evolving mandates from both the federal and state sectors in the COVID-19 environment. Specifically, in the last week: (1) the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) issued interim guidance1 for critical infrastructure workers; and (2) an April 8, 2020 the Governor of New Jersey signed a new Executive Order2 expanding the state’s Stay-at-Home restrictions.

Businesses that continue to operate under Stay-at-Home orders can expect evolving requirements intended to keep workplaces safe. The New Jersey order is an example of just one state with recent changes; however, it is not alone. Many states are modifying their orders or issuing new guidance as the nation continues to learn more about COVID-19 and as the business community tries to understand and adjust to the orders. One of the

Protecting Your Company, Your Employees and Your Customers in the Era of Coronavirus

COVID-19, a novel coronavirus, is disrupting world economies, day-to-day business operations, and even everyday life.  We are watching these developments closely and are analyzing the legal implications involving various sectors, including employers, manufacturers, retailers and property owners/operators.  Among other issues, we are specifically focusing on what, if any, legal duties might exist with respect to warnings as well as developments surrounding any standard of care.  Those issues have been litigated in the context of prior contagion events (e.g. Zika and Legionnaire’s disease), and may become the focus of new cases related to COVID-19.

In the meantime, litigation involving this outbreak has already begun.  A case alleging false and deceptive advertising as well as misrepresentation with regard to a product’s ability to fight the virus has been filed.  Additionally, cruise ship passengers have filed a lawsuit regarding how a ship handled its response to the virus.

If you have any questions

PFAS 101

March 11, 2020

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PFAS 101

March 11, 2020

Authored by: John Kindschuh and Tom Lee

In a world filled with acronyms, PFAS has started emerging as a topic of conversation, regulation, and litigation.  Enforcement actions and lawsuits have so far mostly focused on the companies that have manufactured two of the most widely used, and the most heavily regulated, PFAS compounds – PFOA and PFOS – but the scope of regulation and litigation is expanding further into this large family of compounds.

What are PFAS Chemicals?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) are a family of over 5,000 man-made fluorinated chemicals some of which have been used since the 1940’s across a variety of industries as part of manufacturing processes, and as components of consumer products.

PFAS are defined by having elemental bonds of fluorine and carbon, rendering them pervasive and persistent.  Significantly, this means that PFAS compounds do not break down easily either in the environment or in living organisms.

PFAS chemicals can repel both

No Binding Federal Drinking Water Regulations for 1,4-Dioxane

People want certainty from federal agencies.  We all yearn for direction, especially from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”).  Here is the information, albeit limited, we can use for 1,4-Dioxane.

What is 1,4-Dioxane?

1,4-Dioxane is a synthetic industrial chemical that is a colorless, clear, and flammable liquid with a faint odor.[1]

1,4-Dioxane was used as a solvent for extracting animal and vegetable oils as well as in the formulation of inks, coatings, and adhesives.  It also was also used as a solvent in processing crude petroleum, petroleum refining, and petrochemicals.[2]

1,4-Dioxane was (and sometimes currently still is) found in numerous goods, including deodorants, perfumes, mouthwashes, paints, cosmetics, detergents, certain plastics, and other products.[3]

What are the Drinking Water Requirements?

Notably, there is no maximum contaminant level (“MCL”) for 1,4-Dioxane.  To date, EPA has only issued a health advisory suggestion that others

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