The global coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) is rapidly spreading, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) releases new information and statistics every day.
As of today, the CDC says the coronavirus is a respiratory disease that has spread to more than 100 locations around the world. The World Health Organization declared it a “public health emergency of international concern” on January 30th and a pandemic on March 11th. Symptoms include fever, a cough, and shortness of breath, and they may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.
Currently, information about the severity of the disease is relatively conflicting. Most sources suggest that the disease is mild, but a report from China demonstrated that 16% of cases result in serious illness. The CDC regularly updates the number of cases in the U.S. here.
Check Your Sources
Due to the pacing of the disease, we suggest relying only on reputable resources such as the following:
- The CDC
- The World Health Organization (WHO)
- The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)
- Our World in Data
- The National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- Harvard Health Publishing
- State government sites (e.g. Connecticut)
Amidst the panic, many people have spread misinformation—both unknowingly and intentionally. Some hoaxes claim much deadlier statistics or plans from the government to put the nation under complete lockdown. Others are scams to coerce consumers into buying fraudulent products or services. When in doubt, refer to one of the sources above for the latest official information.
Can You Obtain Workers’ Compensation for the Coronavirus?
This is becoming a very frequently asked question, but the answer is complicated. In any workers’ compensation case, your claim must prove that you sustained your illness or injury as a result of the work you performed for your employer. In this case, you will need to demonstrate that you contracted the coronavirus because you faced excessive exposure to it on the job.
Because the virus is spreading so quickly, claims will become more difficult to win, simply because your employer will have a greater ability to say you contracted the virus from the general public, rather than on the job.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, cases will differ from state to state. Washington State, for example, has been clear about ensuring healthcare professionals’ and first responders’ access to workers’ compensation. Some states, on the other hand, have a comprehensive list of illnesses that are covered under workers’ compensation. Under South Carolina law, for instance, “occupational diseases” can never include contagious diseases that the employee would be equally exposed to outside of work. Generally, workers who aren’t in the healthcare industry will have a more difficult time obtaining coverage.
Let Us Address Your Concerns
At the Law Offices of James A. Welcome, we are more than happy to answer your questions to the best of our ability. We can also help you handle certain legal issues that arise as a result of the virus. We are staying up to date on all information to better serve our clients and community.