Rapid Tests Available in Leadville Today
Testing and Employee Benefits
As the calendar flips the page and the holiday and ski season come clearly into focus, the news of rapid testing availability for COVID-19 in Leadville is good news, particularly for the Lake County economy.
“Right now, we have 75 tests available per month,” explained Dr. Lisa Zwerdlinger with Rocky Mountain Family Practice in Leadville. “The results are available in 15 minutes.” To date, according to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, Lake County has seen a significant enough shift in positive results to force the Leadville community into a more restrictive status last week.
But for the local economy, the chasing-the-wind message has had both employees and employers in a holding pattern as COVID-19 testing results often took more than one week for results to be returned. The new rapid-tests available at RMFP will change that dynamic as national and international health experts wait for a vaccine.
According to Dr. Lisa who also acts as Lake County’s Chief Medical Officer, the new rapid-results option is a molecular test that is “very accurate and similar to the tests that are done at the large Front Range labs and hospitals.” However, due to the limited supply, health officials will make decisions on who gets the test.
“We have decided that our priorities will be to keep folks in school and able to work, especially front-line workers,” stated Dr Zwerdlinger. The group also identified making the elderly and others at high risk a priority to use this test to aid in medical decisions. As for the costs associated with test, RMFP indicated that the test is covered by most insurance companies and the federal government when the patient has no health insurance. There however is no guarantee that this will continue past the first of the year.
All Lake County residents are encouraged to follow the public health guidelines and “if you have a significant COVID-19 exposure, you will need to fulfill your quarantine no matter what the test result is.”
To schedule a rapid-results test contact the Rocky Mountain Family Practice at 719-486-0500 or by email at email@example.com 735 Hwy 24 South in Leadville, Co 80461. www.leadvillermfp.com. The medical facility is open 7 days a week and walkins are always welcome.
How COVID Changed Job Benefits
Emergency sick leave, quarantine and isolation orders, flexible staffing levels and confusion is today’s world for the small business owner. Coronavirus has changed the employment landscape by way of legislation meant to support employees and businesses through shut-downs and cut-backs in the attempt to contain the spread of this disease.
Join the Colorado Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division and the Colorado Workforce Center Northwest Area Business Services Team for a webinar addressing a variety of concerns to be conducted on Thursday, Dec. 10 from 9:30 – 11 a.m.
“As we move into winter and COVID-19 positivity rates continue to increase, businesses are asking for guidance in navigating employee management, providing options and resources for employees, and clear explanation as to how employment laws, both state and federal, affect businesses and employees during this health crisis,” explained Mark Hoblitzell, Regional Business Services Coordinator for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
The FREE webinar will dive into new wage and hour issues employers may face as a result of the coronavirus pandemic – and what may follow after the crisis has passed. Topics include:
- Wage/Hour Laws
- Worker rights
- Employer responsibilities
- Emergency paid sick leave updates
- Family medical leave changes
- Employee classification
- Miscellaneous rule changes
Economic Uncertainty Grows as Crisis Worsens
Last week, the Colorado Employment Situation for October 2020 was distributed by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) reporting a slightly encouraging trend for local workers. The report highlights Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged in October at 6.4 percent. The national unemployment rate declined one percentage point from September to 6.9 percent. Other highlights from the household survey:
- Colorado’s labor force grew by 17,600 in October to 3,138,700. The labor force participation rate rose by three-tenths of a percentage point to 67.6 percent, but is still below the February ratio of 69.4 percent.
- The number of individuals employed in Colorado increased by 15,800 in October to 2,937,200, which represents 63.3 percent of the state’s 16+ population. While Colorado’s employment-to-population ratio continues to improve since April, when it was 58.3 percent, it still falls well below the February level of 67.7 percent.
- The Colorado counties with the highest unemployment rates in October were: San Miguel (8.0%), Huerfano (7.9%), Summit (7.9%), Pueblo (7.8%), and Pitkin (7.6%). County-level unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted and are directly comparable to Colorado’s October unadjusted rate of 6.2 percent.
Workshare Program Help Avert Layoffs
For employers considering reducing employee hours, the Work-Share Program provides an alternative to laying off employees by allowing them to keep working, but with fewer hours. While an employee is working fewer hours, they may be eligible to collect part of their regular unemployment benefits.
Signing up for the Work-Share Program can save employers money on unemployment insurance premiums. For more information, visit their website for details.
New PPP Loan Forgiveness Guidelines
The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the Treasury Department, released a simpler loan forgiveness application for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $50,000 or less. This action streamlines the PPP forgiveness process to provide financial and administrative relief to America’s smallest businesses while also ensuring sound stewardship of taxpayer dollars. More info here.
Proposed Budget Includes Business Assistance
Gov. Jared Polis’ 2021-22 budget proposal focuses heavily on pandemic recovery and investments, including a series of business incentives and proposals designed to provide economic relief as the state continues to struggle with the pandemic. The package includes $1.3 billion “to help support local businesses, put Coloradans back to work and invest in the state’s future,” according to the governor’s press release. View the proposal in detail.
Employers to See Rise in Premiums
Employers should receive their 2021 Unemployment Insurance Rate Notices in November. These rates are still subject to adjustment and may not be accurate. Corrected rate notices will be sent by March 2021. Rate increases expected in response to trust fund insolvency will be delayed until 2023. Watch this pre-recorded webinar for more details. Or, review the webinar’s handouts.
Retail, Restaurants Assistance Programs
Any retail or hospitality business with 100 or fewer employees can sign up for FREE WorkLife services on behalf of their employees. These services include a personal resource navigator (childcare, housing, transportation, mental health, etc., supports.) Through this program, employees may be eligible for direct financial assistance for anything affecting their basic needs. Informational flyer. Sign up here.
Employees Reopening Unemployment Claims
Employees who started an unemployment claim earlier this year, returned to work and are now facing reduced hours in light of changing Public Health Orders can reopen their claims. Please share this factsheet with your employees or direct them to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment website for more information.
Equal Pay Effective Jan. 1 – All Must Comply
Colorado’s Equal Pay Transparency Act goes into effect on Jan 1. The act limits the reasons employers can pay a different wage to employees with similar jobs and requires that employers document those reasons. In addition, the Act also requires employers to post promotional opportunities, with the anticipated wage range, in a format that gives all current employees with the required skills the opportunity to apply. Equal Pay for Work Act Equal Pay Rule.