What If I Think I Got COVID-19 At Work?
Our office is getting a lot of calls from folks who believe they have gotten COVID-19 due to their work environment, most specifically those in the healthcare field. Currently, Virginia does not have an exception for these folks extending worker’s compensation benefits to them. The present rule in Virginia is that you must be able to prove by clear and convincing evidence that you contracted the disease through your job. It’s not enough to say that you’ve been working as an essential worker and believe you were exposed to the virus because of that. It is considered an ordinary disease of life that you could be exposed to anywhere.
As most of you know, dealing with anything on a state level takes time and we are waiting for Virginia to catch up to our present need for these types of benefits. In the mean-time however there IS an executive order in front of the governor’s desk that will hopefully address this need. We are very optimistic that the governor will sign this bill into effect to cover those essential employees that are most vulnerable to exposure so we are monitoring this very closely and will bring you real time updates to any changes in the law.
So What Should I Do if I Think I got COVID-19 at Work?
- File a Claim – Because we are anticipating (and praying) that Virginia will eventually extend workers’ compensation benefits to address the COVID-19 pandemic, we recommend that healthcare workers who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 file a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. You can contact my office for this form and the steps to take in order to do this.
- File for FFCR – The Families First Coronavirus Response Act has extended emergency benefits for those affected by COVID-19. This means that under qualifying circumstances you can get an additional 2 weeks of paid sick leave and get up to 12 weeks of emergency FMLA paid time off. The Department Of Labor also published a fairly comprehensive list of questions and answers about the new act and the benefits it provides for workers.
- Contact Your Health Insurance Provider – Because of the astronomical cost of health care and treatment of COVID-19, some health insurance companies are waiving out of pocket costs for medical personnel who have contracted this horrible virus.
If you think you may have COVID -19 or are having symptoms contact a testing center immediately.
COVID-19 Testing Locations In Virginia
The state is recommending that anyone who feels they need to be tested contact their primary care provider first. The MedExpress COVID-19 Triage Center is available to help those without a primary care provider, but it is by appointment only. No walk-in cases will be accepted, so be sure to call first. They can be reached at the following phone numbers:
Charlottesville (Seminole Trail location) – 434-978-3998
Staunton – 540-885-0629
Culpeper – 540-825-2202
Richmond – 804-346-0927
Lynchburg – 434-239-0627
General Coronavirus Information
Virginia COVID-19 hotline: 877-ASK-VDH3
Thomas Jefferson Health District COVID-19 Hotline: 434-972-6261
8:00 am – 4:30 pm weekdays only
Centers For Disease Control COVID-19 resources
Information for the deaf, hard of hearing, or blind
Things are slowly opening back up and hopefully we are at the tail-end of this pandemic but we are all still in this together so as we enter this new normal, we still need to be mindful of the CDC guidelines – maintain social distancing, wash your hands and frequently used surfaces.
Be safe, be well and we hope to see you all very soon!
About the Author: Michele Lewane
The Injured Workers Law Firm is a Richmond, Virginia based firm solely focused on serving clients with workers' compensation claims in Virginia. If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order our book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” , or call our office today (804) 755-7755.