“Will I feel the warmth of sun and the grass between my toes again?”
“What’s the outdoors like?”
“Would I get sued if I set foot outside my house?”
These are the right questions to ask if you’re self-isolating. It’s also okay to ask questions regarding the infection statistics in Washington or your legal rights during the pandemic.
Bottom line: you will have many questions during this time, and we’ll do our best to answer some of them — even questions you may have about Tom Hanks.
“Can my workplace be held liable if I fall ill from coronavirus?”
Around the third week of March, businesses in Washington state were ordered to put up the shutters, limit operating hours, or require staff to work remotely. The rules differ in every state.
Celebrities do not normally follow such rules. This should explain why stars like Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson found themselves testing positive for COVID-19. The pair were doing pre-production work in Australia for an Elvis Presley biopic when they announced that they were infected.
This raises the questions: how did they get infected, and why were they in Australia instead of Las Vegas?
It’s nearly impossible to determine how or where one gets infected with the coronavirus, especially those whose work requires travel and interactions with numerous individuals. So Tom and Rita couldn’t have easily known if they got infected because they had to work while infection rates were rising.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) ensures that people work in a well-ventilated environment. There are no set standards for COVID-19 for now, but employers could be held liable if they don’t take steps to ensure that work premises are not exposed to coronavirus-positive individuals.
We don’t imagine Tom and Rita, one of Hollywood’s nicest couples, consulting with their attorneys to blame some studio for their illness, but regular people might feel differently.
“Could I be sued if I have COVID-19 and fail to take the proper precautions?”
Many coronavirus-positive patients have been advised to self-quarantine but didn’t. Look no further than the New Hampshire hospital employee who, after being told to self-isolate, went to a gathering at a university.
In more innocent times, going to a private event despite having flu-like symptoms wouldn’t count as a crime. Now, it does. One could face the consequences of a civil and criminal case from spreading infection and a potentially lethal disease due to negligence.
We urge you to examine the certain actions/words of Evangeline Lilly. The actress, who played Paul Rudd’s sidekick in movies about ant-sized superheroes, irked the general public when she proclaimed that she’d rather catch COVID-19 disease than isolate herself and her family.
Ms. Lilly, who is not a physician or a microbiologist, dismissed the virus as respiratory flu. She also admitted being immunocompromised, which essentially means that she has a higher risk for serious complications from the virus.
Hers was a case of not knowing whereof one spoke. Like many celebrities who’ve made ill-advised statements while isolating in their palatial homes, she apologized.
“Is it okay to catch the coronavirus on purpose?”
Catching a virus (any virus) on purpose is unquestionably daft. And so is thinking about catching it on purpose. But believe it or not, that is one of the questions that some people have.
You don’t need a lawyer to tell you that it’s not okay to chase after the coronavirus (it is already doing the chasing on its own, thank you very much). It’s also not okay to verbalize one’s desire to catch it on purpose.
For the sake of argument, if this novel virus couldn’t infect a person more than once, you may still unwittingly pass it on to others who may suffer worse consequences.
Before you go out and make like Evangeline Lilly, or gym bros Mark Wahlberg and Mario Lopez who risked catching the disease to get some sweat action at the gym, think of the raft of consequences that could follow.
On the other hand, there’s Idris Elba who tested positive even though he was asymptomatic. His wife Sabrina Dhowre presumably took this to mean that it was okay to not quarantine away from her husband even though she should have done so.
What happens when someone purposely gets themselves sick? We don’t know, but what we do know is that it’s not smart. The Elbas should have self-quarantined on different floors in their mansion like a normal celebrity.
“Where do I get more information about the coronavirus?”
There are plenty of legal issues about the coronavirus pandemic but these haven’t been fully explored yet. One particular group of people you should NOT be turning to for information are celebs like Vanessa Hudgens who posited that the pandemic is not a big deal because death is inevitable anyway.
Do not especially turn to stars collectively singing a Beatles song from their huge mansions for relief. Stars and their social media pages may offer a welcome distraction, but in your hour of need, they may offer you nothing but questionable singing and tone-deaf soundbites.
For information on the coronavirus, refer to the Washington State Department of Health, Washington State’s official COVID-19 website, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We’ve kept our lines open for your questions concerning personal injuries, slip and fall accidents, and family law in Washington state. Call us — 425-448-4740.