Posted on Tuesday, March 31st, 2020 at 5:03 pm
To all our Clients and Friends:
As many of you know, yesterday, Monday, March 30, 2020, due to the increasing spread of the COVID-19 Virus, Governor Northam of Virginia issued Executive Order 55, which Orders all Virginians To Stay at Home, with a few small exceptions, which include traveling to and from work; however, all Virginians are also encouraged to work remotely if at all possible. That Order is effective through June 10, 2020.
Also, last Friday, March 27, 2020, effective at 5PM on March 30, 2020, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper passed an even more restrictive measure via Executive Order that, in addition to restricting travel for non-essential needs, effectively shuts down all non-essential business locations in North Carolina for 30 days.
In addition, all Virginia Workers Compensation Hearings have been postponed until after April 30, 2020 and all Deputy Commissioner Hearings before the Industrial Commission in North Carolina set for March or April of 2020 will be placed on the next available docket. Both States’ Compensation Commissions are still functioning for all electronic submissions and transactions performed via email and Web File. Most State and Federal Courts are essentially closed as well.
At this point, although it remains to be seen, given the fact that we have not yet neared the peak of infections in the U.S as well as the entry of these more restrictive Orders, it is my opinion that the restrictions for Workers Compensation Hearings will likely extend beyond April and likely at least into June.
The most recent information on the Novel COVID-19 Virus indicates that while the actual death rates may be fairly low, it far more transmissible than, for instance, the flu. This means that if folks do not strictly follow the dictates of their local governments and health officials, a much higher percentage of the population is likely to be infected.
Because of these developments, and also concerns regarding our staff’s well-being, as well as childcare issues, staff with underlying health conditions that place them at a higher risk of fatality, as well as spouses of staff with said conditions, we have made the difficult decision to take the next step and essentially perform almost all work of the firm remotely, effective immediately. Our staff will be coming into the office to service our clients and keep the few tasks that require in-office presence moving for very brief periods on an extremely limited, rotating basis such that there is no more than one employee physically in the office at any one time.
As was in place previously, the front door to our physical office will remain locked at all times, and there will be no in-office appointments or visits of any kind until further notice.
Obviously, should Governor Northam decide to modify his Order and join Governor Cooper, taking the stricter approach of shutting down all non-essential businesses, no staff will be coming into the office whatsoever, and our operations will likely experience additional disruption.
What does this mean for you? At this time, despite mostly working from home, even in the event that the Governor orders our shut-down, all of our staff will still be accessible during business hours via email.
Joe Miller and his staff will still be able to be reached via our normal telephone number at 757-455-8889 during normal business hours; however, it is likely you will receive a voicemail or reach our answering service if you call under the current circumstances.
If you receive a voicemail, please leave a brief message and you should receive a call back either the same day or the following day about any issues that need to be dealt with either from Mr. Miller himself or the appropriate staff member.
We are dealing with unprecedented times and we are all trying to feel our way through the current crisis, but with God’s help, we will get through this.
In then meantime, please follow your state’s Orders to stay at home, and follow the CDC Guidelines to lower the risk of transmission.
I would also encourage you to watch your emails, our website and our YouTube Channel, as well as our Facebook page, as I do not intend to slow the pace of providing information via video and articles regarding workers compensation and injury law, particularly on the subject of how the current situation may be impacting your rights. If anything, I intend to increase the pace of providing that information to the public and our clients. (Who knows, you might even see a couple videos of me playing guitar and singing in my home studio).
Please stay safe out there, everyone!