Delegate Jones’ invoice defending first responders’ COVID-19 employees’ compensation heads to Northam’s desk

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) – Delegate Jay Jones ‘bill that would allow first responders to obtain a presumption of COVID-19 disease under the state workers’ compensation system is being forwarded to Governor Ralph Northam’s desk.

HB 2077 passed both the House and Senate this week. The bill establishes the presumption that in the event that firefighters, rescue workers, law enforcement agencies and correctional officers cause death or disability, COVID-19 will be viewed as an occupational disease that can be compensated under the Employee Compensation Act.

“Our first responders have been at the forefront of the pandemic for a year and deserve the opportunity to file an employee compensation claim for COVID-19 if they have been exposed in the workplace. Firefighters, law enforcement and emergency services providers have come into contact with COVID-19 far too often, and we have a responsibility to protect them, “said Jones.

According to Jones’ office, the Code of Virginia includes worker compensation protection for first responders for “normal illness,” but first responders could not get protection for COVID-19.

A statement released said the Fairfax County’s Fire and Rescue Department, the largest in the state, has seen more than 126 positive cases of COVID-19. Of these cases, only 14 had Virginia-funded employee compensation benefits.

“The current protection of workers in the Code of Virginia is inadequate, and this is a simple but incredibly necessary solution that protects those who have sacrificed so much to protect the rest of us. I would like to sincerely thank former Governor Terry McAuliffe for his efforts to ensure the retrospective provision of this legislation, ”Jones continued.

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