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California Extends Workers’ Compensation Coverage to Essential Workers Infected with Covid-19

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California has announced that it would extend the workers’ compensation insurance coverage to all essential workers who test positive for the novel coronavirus. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed an executive order to extend the coverage for any worker who is diagnosed with COVID-19 by a physician.

Since essential workers will most likely contract the virus while at work, they will be eligible for the workers’ compensation benefits. Companies or insurance companies will have to prove that the worker was not infected with the disease at work in order to deny their compensation claim.

Announcing the move, Gov. Newsom said “We are removing a burden for workers on the front lines, who risk their own health and safety to deliver critical services to our fellow Californians, so that they can access benefits, and be able to focus on their recovery. Workers’ compensation is a critical piece to reopening the state and it will help workers get the care they need to get healthy, and in turn, protect public health.”

The announced order takes effect to cover employees infected anytime as from March 19th  to July 5, 2020. 

An eligible worker must be diagnosed with Covid-19 or tested positive within 14 days of performing their duties after March 19, 2020, when the stay-at-home order was issued. If the employer or the insurer does not reject the claim within 30 days, it is assumed that the illness is covered. Benefits available under this cover include full hospital, surgical, medical treatment, disability indemnity and death benefits. The worker, however, must exhaust their paid sick leave benefits before being eligible for temporary disability benefits.

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