On December 1st, 2021, the San Francisco Department of Health announced the confirmation of the first Omicron case in California. A variant of the COVID-19 virus, omicron poses some additional public health challenges. As explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is more transmissible as it “speads more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2.”
At the start of December, the daily COVID-19 case average in California was below 4,000. At the end of the month, the omicron variant pushed the average above 30,000. With increased community spread, more people are going to get infected at work. Here, our Fresno workers’ comp attorney highlights the key things to know about the omicron variant and workers’ comp claims in California.
First and foremost, it is important to emphasize that a COVID-19 infection caused by tbe omicron variant—or delta variant or any other variant—can be covered by workers’ compensation insurance in California. Work-related illnesses are covered by the statute. To qualify for workers’ comp benefits, your omicron variant COVID-19 case must be linked to your workplace. You are not entitled to receive workers’ comp benefits for a non-work related COVID-19 exposure.
At the beginning of the pandemic, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order creating a rebuttable presumption that COVID-19 is a work-related illness. The broad presumption has been allowed to expire. However, a more narrow COVID-19 presumption currently remains in place until early 2023. You are still entitled to a rebuttable presumption that your COVID-19 omicron variant case is work related if:
- You are a police officer, public safety worker, or health care worker in a hospital setting; or
- There was an “outbreak” in your workplace—defined as four employees testing positive for employers that have fewer than 100 workers and 4% of total staff testing positive for employers with more than 100 workers.
When your COVID-19 workers’ comp claim is approved, you can seek benefits for medical coverage and for wage replacement. Workers’ compensation insurance in California covers all medical care that is related to the injury/illness and is deemed reasonably necessary. Wage replacement benefits are available for time you are required to miss due to your illness or a required quarantine period.
Joseph C. Yrulegui is a partner and shareholder at the California workers’ comp law firm Yrulegui & Roberts. If you have any questions about the omicron variant and workers’ comp claims, Mr. Yrulegui will protect your rights. Give us a call now or contact us online to schedule a strictly confidential review of your case. With an office in Fresno, we represent injured workers throughout the surrounding area, including in Fresno County, Kings County, Madera County, and Tulare County.