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Is the COVID-19 Delta Variant Covered under Workers' Compensation?

Although millions in California are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, many others are only partially vaccinated or remain unvaccinated at all. In the U.S., there are currently four main variants of the virus that causes the disease, but one, in particular, has been making recent headlines.

Cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 are apparently on the rise, accounting for 4.7% of total cases in California during May and rising to 14.5% of cases during June. While that might not seem like such a giant leap, experts are concerned because the Delta variant is possible twice more infectious than the original variant.

Many safety restrictions were lifted with the state’s reopening in mid-June, and many employees were called back to their places of work. While the available vaccines all seem to be overwhelmingly effective against the Delta variant, vaccinated and unvaccinated workers alike may be concerned about what should happen if they contract COVID-19 from work.

Workers’ Comp Benefits for COVID-19 in California

If you believe you were infected with COVID-19 while at work, it’s no wonder why you’re thinking about applying for workers’ compensation benefits. Under normal circumstances, employees are eligible for workers’ comp when they are injured from work or are suffering from an occupational disease, which is a chronic ailment caused by one’s work.

Usually, an employee contracting an infectious disease at work isn’t covered by workers’ compensation. This is because it’s usually impossible to prove that the infection actually took place at work. As we’ve all seen, though, COVID-19 has offered nothing but unusual circumstances.

Due to California laws that passed in response to the pandemic, some workers can qualify for workers’ comp if they believe they contracted COVID-19 while at work.

These workers include the following:

  • Any healthcare professional
  • Any first responder
  • Anyone who was at a worksite with a COVID-19 outbreak

The eligibility period for workers’ comp claims based on COVID-19 ends on Jan. 1, 2023.

What Is Considered to be an ‘Outbreak’ of COVID-19?

If one employee gets sick from COVID-19, is it considered an outbreak? Not likely, unless a certain number of their coworkers also get sick within a certain period of time.

California defines a COVID-19 outbreak as four or more infections within a 14-day period when the employer has 100 or fewer employees, but at least five. When the employer has more than 100 employees, an outbreak has occurred when 4% of them are infected within a 14-day period.

Do You Need Help with Workers’ Comp?

Because a workers’ compensation claim based upon an infectious disease – even COVID-19 – is a relatively novel concept, you may need an attorney’s help. Whether you’re filing for benefits or wish to appeal a denial, you can turn to the competent and experienced attorneys at Smolich and Smolich for the legal guidance you need.

For more information about how we can help with any workers’ comp issue, please contact us online!