Coronavirus (COVID-19)

For up-to-date information on the response to coronavirus (COVID-19), and what workers can do to protect themselves, their coworkers and families. Resources are available at the bottom of the page. For resources in other languages, scroll down or click on the desired language below.

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Am I at risk?

Older adults and those with underlying medical issues including heart disease, diabetes and lung disease are most at risk from coronavirus. If you are one of these populations, or have contact with others who are, please take precautions to ensure the health of everyone in our community.

Some workers are more at risk of contracting coronavirus: healthcare workers, deathcare workers, laboratory workers, airline workers, border workers, solid and wastewater treatment workers, and those who have close contact with people who travel abroad frequently (especially to highly infected areas).

If you have been exposed or think you may have been exposed to coronavirus, please follow self-quarantine guidelines and contact your local healthcare provider and follow their instructions. Ask them to notify the state or local health department. Guidelines for what to do can be found here. Even if you do not have symptoms, you may be contagious and infect others. 

In New York State, the Governor has mandated that 100% of all workers NOT in essential services work from home starting on Sunday, March 22nd. A list of those considered essential can be found here.

What can I do to minimize my risk?


Avoid contact with sick people


Cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze


Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds


If you are sick, please stay home and limit contact with others


Avoid touching your face to stop the spread of germs


Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated (including your phone!)

What should my employer do?

Your employer is responsible for providing proper training, relevant personal protective equipment, and record-keeping of possible exposures and infection. Workplace standards and more information about OSHA requirements for employers can be found here. A list of best practices for employers from the World Health Organization can be found here. New York State has also issued guidance for employers here. WNYCOSH has released a list of best practices for grocery stores and cashiers here.

If you believe that your employer is not following the guidelines on who essential businesses are, or is breaking labor law in some other fashion, the NYS Attorney General has a hotline set up at (212) 416-8700, or you can email at

If you have a question about your workplace, please call WNYCOSH at 716-206-3550.

WNYCOSH's Guide covers state and federal benefits for workers, including unemployment, paid leave, sick leave, OSHA rights, and stimulus checks. This Guide will be updated as new information becomes available.

The Guidebook is currently available in English. Translations will be available soon.

NYS Unemployment

New York State has made some changes to their unemployment policies. The state page can be found here.

  • They have waived the 7-day waiting period if you have been laid off due to coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • The day you can file a claim is now based on the first letter of your last name due to a high volume of claims. All claims will be effective on the Monday of the week they were filed (ie, this will not affect your benefits):
    • Monday: A-F
    • Tuesday: G-N
    • Wednesday: O-Z
    • Thursday and Friday: File a claim if you missed your day.

NOTE: The unemployment extension from the federal government does NOT change the way you file for unemployment in NYS or how you will receive your benefits.

Paid Sick Leave

Both New York State and the federal government have passed new bills to give workers paid sick time during the coronavirus outbreak. Details are still emerging, but this page will be updated as we learn more about how the bills will work.

Federal government:

Who does this apply to: The bill passed through Congress on Wednesday night applies to companies with fewer than 500 workers. Businesses with fewer than 50 workers may also apply for an exemption from the law, as well as health care facilities (including hospitals and nursing homes). 

The bill also covers federal government workers, gig economy workers and self-employed workers.

What does it give workers: Workers who are covered by the bill will receive 10 paid sick leave days. The days apply to those who are sick, taking preventative measures or those who are caring for ill family members. The bill would also give 12 weeks of paid family leave to some workers who are caring for a child or children due to school closings.

Another quick guide can be found here.

NYS Paid Sick Leave:

If you are under a quarantine or isolation order:

  • Businesses with 10 or fewer employees, or who make less than $1 million a year will provide job protection and paid family leave and disability benefits.
  • Businesses with 11-99 employees will provide at least 5 paid sick days, as well as paid family leave and disability benefits.
  • Businesses with 100 or more employees will provide at least 14 paid sick days and job protection.

All businesses will provide job protection for the duration of the quarantine order.

If you are quarantined but working from home, you do not qualify for these benefits.

More information can be found here.

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