Home » Media Center » COVID-19

Coronavirus: Information for PEF Members and Staff

The news reak will be is yet to be determined. But PEF is working diligently on how New York State can and must protect their workforce, and resources for you to use to protect yourselves.


We encourage you to visit coronavirus.gov to learn ways to keep you, your family, and your community safe.

3/31 - CARE Act: PEF Members

3/31 - Dependent Care Plan : PEF Members

3/30 - OMH Letter from PEF

3/27 - PEF OSH Fact Sheet

PEF OSH Fact Sheet
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Information for Field Staff

3/27 - PEF COVID-19 FAQ

What you need to know about the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

3/27 - Thank you Stony Brook PEF Members

3/26 - Updated instructions for managing Psychiatric Center patients and staff

3/25 - NYS Novel Coronavirus - COVID-19 Update

3/25 - LATS/Attendance & Leave Guidance for COVID-19 Reported Absences

3/21 - Division of Juvenile Justice and Opportunities for Youth Executive Directive

3/9 - General Information for PEF Members and Staff

We encourage you to visit coronavirus.gov to learn ways to keep you, your family, and your community safe.


While there is currently no vaccine to prevent this virus, these simple steps can help stop the spread of this and other respiratory viruses:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

PEF has developed factsheets for general information on COVID-19, as well as more specialized information for facilities and healthcare workers.

Workplace Safety

Because of the nature of our work, PEF members have a risk of exposure when working with the public.

PEF will be meeting with GOER, DOH, other key Agencies and unions to discuss New York State readiness for a potential outbreak. We will also be discussing how paid time, release time or worker’s compensation will be provided to workers should social distancing, quarantine or isolation be required by State agencies.

This will require a clear agreement between the State and the unions, and one we are working on right now. The State may require workers who are exposed to go home and self-monitor, under the supervision of a doctor, for as many as 14 days or more. In some cases, they may not develop the disease, and return to work. If symptoms develop that requires medical care they would remain out until cleared by a doctor to return to work. We understand the reasoning, if workers are asymptomatic, but contagious, and stay at work they may infect many more people.  However, there may be a problem if someone does not have much (or any) paid leave time available. They simply cannot afford to stay home. That may discourage reporting.

The Workers Compensation law has guaranteed workers who are made ill on the job will be paid for lost wages. We believe it should cover workers in this case too. We are prepared to use any and all of our resources, including litigation, to make sure that members get the rights and benefits they are entitled to.

Health Care Workers

The NYS Nurses Association (NYSNA) has developed excellent points of information and resources for healthcare practitioners. We appreciate their generosity and permission to share it with you:

For a COVID-19 information and updates please see https://www.nysna.org/blog/2020/01/28/health-and-safety-alert-covid-19#.XlRDizJKjcs

For a Facility Readiness Checklist and for information on the flu, please visit



Additional information for H&S Committee Chairs, Council Leaders and Executive Board

Local leaders should put the issue on their H&S and/or L/M Committee agendas and discuss workplace readiness and response for both COVID-19 and the Flu.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a COVID-19 epidemic global risk assessment level of “high” and has declared a global health emergency. In order to protect workers from exposure, it is essential that workplaces plan and prepare for the safety and health issues of COVID-19 before it becomes a pandemic. Employers need to put infection control measures and emergency plans into place at work so that workers are fully protected in advance of the arrival of a pandemic virus.

The first step is to determine if the employer is ready to address the safety and health issues of a pandemic flu or virus in your workplace. The union should review existing programs, plans, and policies to see whether they include a pandemic flu infection control program, including:

Review the Employer’s Safety and Health Programs

• Overall safety and health program for the workplace
• Infection control program
• Exposure risk determination for pandemic flu virus
• Methods of controlling pandemic flu exposure
• Health surveillance plan to identify sick workers
• Pandemic flu training and hazard communication
• COOP (Continuity of Operations Plan)
• Housekeeping and cleaning protocols
• Provision of sanitizers and antivirals for the workforce

We are in the process of developing specific questions for institutional and correctional facilities. Those will be sent out soon to your PEF leaders.

The PEF Health & Safety Department will send out periodic updates on COVID-19.

3/16 - Covid-19 Health and Safety Guidance and Material provided by state agencies

Important Coronavirus Policy Updates - PEF Members

In response to the Coronavirus Covid-19 and staffing needs, the State and PEF have entered into a Memorandum of Agreement allowing for the carryover of more than forty (40) days of vacation credits on April 1, 2020 (under Article 12.4(c), employees would otherwise forfeit accrued vacation credits in excess of 40 days).   This is for employees engaged in the response efforts or unable to utilize vacation leave due to ongoing response efforts. Employees will be given until the close of business on December 31, 2020 to use such excess vacation credits.  Thereafter, forfeiture of vacation credits will be governed by language from the PS&T collective bargaining agreement.  This agreement shall not affect vacation credits accrued by employees after April1, 2020.

View Memorandum of Agreement here

On March 8, 2020, Budget Director Robert Mujica issued the attached bulletin, “Coronavirus Diseases 2019 Emergency Preparedness and Related Expenditures.”  The bulletin allows for a blanket overtime authorization for staff in Salary Grade 27 and below who work in excess of 47.5 hours per week, provided that such overtime is both essential and directly related to activities associated with the State’s preparation and response to COVID-19. Extraordinary overtime compensation requests for staff in positions above Salary Grade 27 shall be reviewed by DOB on a case-by-case basis. For Salary Grade 27 and above, a formal request for a Waiver of Overtime Compensation Rules will be necessary to demonstrate that such extraordinary overtime is critical to activities associated with the State’s preparation and response to COVID-19. This bulletin in no way impacts Article 7.14 of the PEF/State collective bargaining agreement which allows for overtime compensation for positions in the PS&T Unit allocated or equated to Salary Grades 22 and below.

View complete budget bulletin here

Directive from GOER on Mandatory and precautionary quarantines including leave usage for ALL state employees.

View memorandum here


What you need to know about the Coronavirus (COVID-19): PEF FAQ

Click here for the complete Coronavirus FAQ

Important information on PPE

If Healthcare facilities or hospital staff believe they are being placed at risk for potential exposure due to not having the appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), and the facility is non-responsive or indicating they are low on PPE, the Department of Health has set up a mailbox for COVID -19 PPE complaints:


Thank you,
Darlene Williams, PEF Article 18 Statewide Health and Safety Co-Chair
Michael Blue, PEF Article 18 Statewide Health and Safety Co-Chair

Guidance on the Contacts of a Close or Proximate Contact of a Confirmed or Suspected Case of COVID-19

Additional resources available for Empire Plan enrollees

Cost Sharing Waivers for COVID-19 Testing

Enrollee cost sharing requirements for COVID-19 testing at approved locations are waived. In addition, copays, coinsurance, and deductibles for visits associated with COVID-19 testing are waived, whether the testing is provided in a health care provider’s office, an urgent care center, or an emergency department. This cost share waiver applies to all active Empire Plan enrollees, early retirees and Medicare eligible retirees.

Early Prescription Refills

To ensure enrollee access to medications, enrollees will be allowed one emergency prescription refill of up to a 30-day supply for three prescriptions of retail medications and one prescription of specialty medications during a 90-day period. Normal copay rules apply.

Managing Coronavirus Anxiety

Visit the Beacon Lens at beaconlens.com for advice and tips on managing stress and anxiety due to coronavirus. Additional online resources on this topic are available in a guide from the NYS Office of Mental Health and at the Centers for Disease Control.


The Empire Plan Nurseline is fully prepared to share information with enrollees on the COVID-19 virus and triage them to the appropriate level of care as necessary based on the severity of their symptoms.  As a reminder, the Empire Plan Nurseline number is 1-877-769-7447, Option # 5.

We will keep you posted as any new information regarding the coverage of the COVID-19 virus by the Empire Plan becomes available. Keep apprised on COVID-19 by visiting https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home. Here you can also sign up for email updates on the coronavirus. Please contact me with any questions or concerns you may have on this issue.

WHO Clean hands protect against infection

Clean hands protect against infection

Click here for WHO – How do I wash my hands properly flyer

OPWDD Guidelines for Implementation of Quarantine and/or Isolation Measures

OPWDD has released Guidelines for Implementation of Quarantine and/or Isolation Measures at State-Owned and Voluntary Providers in Congregate Settings which can be found at the below link:


All guidance released to date is available on this page:


Interim Guidance for Procedures When Identifying an Employee with Concerns for COVID-19 Exposures

AFT Cleaning Tips

PPE for Residential Evaluation and Testing COVID-19

PPE for in-home assessment and testing:

CDC Interim Guidance for Public Health Personnel Evaluating  Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) and Asymptomatic Close Contacts of Confirmed Cases at Their Home or Non-Home Residential Settings

Click here for the  PPE for Residential Evaluation and Testing COVID-19 PDF


NYS DOH Interim Guidance for Employees with Concerns

PEF OSH Fact Sheet

PEF has developed factsheets for general information on COVID-19, as well as more specialized information for facilities and healthcare workers. Factsheets and resources on the COVID-19 will be available on the PEF website as soon as possible. 

Click here for the PEF OSH fact sheet 

10 Steps to Preventing Coronavirus

A new coronavirus, COVID-19, has been identified as the cause of a cluster of severe pneumonia cases that emerged in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in Dec. 2019. Since then, the virus has spread to several other countries and the U.S. Let’s make sure we stand with our communities and stop any forms of targeting people of Asian decent. COVID-19 has the potential to affect all communities, regardless of race or ethnic background. Let’s make sure we are supporting one another.

Click here for complete infographic

Visitation Restrictions