On August 6, 2021, Acting Governor Susan Bysiewicz issued Executive Order 13B (the “Order”) requiring long-term care facilities to mandate staff members with “direct access” (i.e., physical access) to patients or residents be vaccinated against COVID-19. The Order applies to long-term care facilities, which is defined to include nursing homes, residential care homes, assisted living services agencies, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, managed residential communities, and chronic disease hospitals. The Order takes effect immediately and will remain in effect through September 30, 2021, unless modified or rescinded on an earlier date.
Pursuant to the Order, by September 7, 2021, long-term care facilities must require that any individual with “direct access” to patients or residents meet one of the following requirements:
(i) is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (i.e., at least fourteen (14) days have elapsed since the individual’s final dose of the vaccine);
(ii) has (a) received the first dose of a two-dose series vaccine (e.g., Pfizer or Moderna vaccines) and has either received a second dose or has an appointment for such second dose or (b) has received a single-dose vaccine (e.g., Johnson & Johnson vaccine); or
(iii) is exempt from the vaccine requirement due to a medical or religious exemption, and “the individual is able to perform their essential job functions with a reasonable accommodation that is not an undue burden on the long-term care facility.”
Long-term care facilities must not employ, or maintain a contract for the provision of services, or allow any volunteer to continue volunteering at the long-term care facility unless the aforementioned requirement is met. In addition, long-term care facilities must ensure that the aforementioned requirement is satisfied in the following circumstances:
(i) prior to extending an offer of employment to such individual;
(ii) prior to entering into a contract with an individual or entity that provides individuals who will have direct access to patients or residents; and
(iii) prior to allowing any such individual to begin volunteering at such long-term care facility.
The Order further prohibits long-term care facilities from employing, or contracting for the provision of services from, any individual with “direct access” to patients or residents who fails to receive the second dose of a two-dose series vaccine on the appropriate date or at his or her scheduled appointment “without good cause.” Finally, long-term care facilities must authenticate the status of each individual subject to the Order’s requirements, maintain documentation of vaccination or exemption status, and report compliance with the Order in a manner directed by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (“DPH”).
The Order imposes a civil penalty of $20,000 per day on long-term care facilities that violate the aforementioned vaccination, documentation, and reporting requirements. Specifically, any long-term care facility that permits an individual who does not satisfy the aforementioned vaccination or exemption requirements to have physical access to patients, residents, employees, volunteers, or others who have direct access to patients or residents is in violation of the Order. Failure to maintain appropriate documentation of vaccination or exemptions or to timely report such statuses to DPH is also considered a violation of the Order.
If you have any questions regarding the application of the Order or the implementation of its requirements, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the Health Law Practice Group at Shipman.