One of the most common questions we’ve been receiving during the COVID-19 crisis is whether or not becoming sick from the virus might be covered through Virginia workers’ compensation.
The quick and short answer is going to be yes if you are a medical provider or first responder. The answer is no if you are not working in one of these fields. In order for any injury or disease to be covered by workers’ compensation, you must be able to prove 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.
In the specific case of COVID-19, the Virginia state legislature issued a law on July 1, 2021, for healthcare providers only. This law states that there is a presumption that you contracted COVID-19 at work. Thus, healthcare workers do not have to prove that they contracted COVID-19 at work. The employer has to prove that the medical provider contracted COVID-19 outside of work. But, for the rest of us, trying to prove the exact point of exposure will be virtually impossible- even if you feel certain that you were exposed to the coronavirus while at work.
Alternatives To Workers’ Compensation for COVID-19
It may be nearly impossible to make a successful workers’ comp claim because you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, but there are other options that can help you maintain some or all of your paycheck while you’re unable to work.
Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, you may be entitled to paid leave in addition to your regular paid sick leave and vacation time. Depending on your circumstances, you can receive paid leave for up to 12 weeks. 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.
Virginia COVID-19 Resources for Workers
In addition to what the federal government is doing, there is plenty of help available locally as well. From general information on the coronavirus itself to special services available to Virginia residents during this time, we’ve compiled a list of web pages and telephone numbers that we believe will prove useful.
The Virginia Department Of Health has made many statistics available about COVID-19 and how it is affecting Virginia. You’ll find information such as the overall number of cases, a breakdown of cases in each county, daily and weekly trends, and more. The page is updated daily by 10:00 am. They’ve also put together a list of answers to frequently asked questions.
The Occupational Safety And Health Administration (OSHA) has also made a special COVID-19 webpage available containing news, medical information, and other resources for workers.
Unemployment resources have been extended on both federal and state levels. In Virginia, for all claims on or after March 15, 2020, Governor Northam has directed that the one-week waiting period to receive benefits and the weekly job search requirement both be suspended. A special web page has also been put together that provides ongoing updates about changes to unemployment benefits in Virginia during the COVID-19 crisis.
In addition, the Governor’s office has created their own list of answers to frequently asked questions regarding how this crisis situation affects workers in Virginia.
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 deafblind
- Or Dial 711 for Virginia Relay then 1-800-230-6977
Local Government News Updates
- Virginia Department of Health Press Releases
- Albemarle County
- City of Charlottesville
- Greene County
- Nelson County
- Sentara Martha Jefferson
- University of Virginia
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
- Blue Ridge Area Food Bank
- Charlottesville Food Justice Network
- Loaves and Fishes
- Emergency Food Network
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Federation Of Virginia Food Banks
- No Kid Hungry – School lunches
- Text “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877-877
- School Meal Finder
- Health Happens Here
- Emergency Helpline: 434-972-1800
- National Center For PTSD Stress Relief Resources
Housing And Utilities
- Department Of Social Services – Childcare VA
- Child Care Aware Of Virginia
Injured Workers Law Firm Wishes You And Your Family Well
The entire team here at Injured Workers Law Firm would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family the best during this uncertain time.
We, like you, hope that life gets back to normal as quickly as possible. We’re looking forward to once again being able to help our clients and our community face to face. Until then, however, you can reach us online anytime or call (804) 755-7755 to discuss an ongoing case or make plans for a consultation on a new case. Be well and be safe.