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In U.S. epicenter of coronavirus outbreak, first responders get quarantine coverage

With the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) approaching 800 in Washington state, the army of medical workers administering those tests and caring for patients who test positive are at heightened risk of catching the virus themselves.

Earlier this month, Washington state expanded job protections for first responders on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.

Under the new policy, the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) will provide workers’ compensation benefits for health care workers and first responders during the time they are quarantined by a doctor or public health official after being exposed to coronavirus on the job.

Current L&I rules already provide for workers’ compensation coverage if health care providers and first responders become sick in connection with their job duties.

The expanded coverage takes effect immediately and covers eligible workers already under quarantine.

Workers’ compensation coverage can include medical testing, treatment expenses if a worker becomes ill or injured and time-loss payments (partial coverage of lost income) for those who cannot work if they are sick or quarantined.

“Health care workers and first responders are playing a key role in the COVID-19 response,” L&I Director Joel Sacks said in a statement announcing the expanded benefits. “We need them to go to work knowing they will be taken care of if they are exposed to this new coronavirus and have to be quarantined or get sick.”

Employees in other industries may be eligible to workers’ compensation benefits if they contracted coronavirus in the office or in some work-related capacity, like during business travel.

Workers can file a workers’ compensation claim up to two years after being exposed to a disease at work.

Emery Reddy helps workers. Call us if you have questions about coronavirus affecting your job, or if you have an L&I, workers’ comp, injury, or other employment law claim. You won’t get better advice.

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