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Delegates rally support for COVID workers compensation bill

Frontline health care workers who contracted COVID-19 are hoping legislation will allow them to...
Frontline health care workers who contracted COVID-19 are hoping legislation will allow them to collect workers compensation.(WDBJ7)
Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 11:05 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - Advocates for Virginia’s nurses and first responders are rallying support for legislation they say is needed to help health care workers who have contracted COVID-19.

Thousands in Virginia have been infected. Some have died. Many have been unable to return to work. And all but a small percentage have been unable to claim workers compensation.

Legislation introduced by Del. Chris Hurst (D-Blacksburg) and Del. Jay Jones (D-Norfolk) would extend coverage to include COVID-19 as a work-related illness for health care employees who are directly involved in the diagnosis and treatment of COVID patients.

The COVID presumption is retroactive in the House bills, but concerns about the cost spurred members of the state senate to leave it out of their legislation. And that, the delegates say, is a major problem.

“This legislation is all about the retroactive presumption to coincide with the state of emergency back on March 12, 2020,” Jones said during a news conference Monday morning. “And to not provide the retroactivity in this bill would be nothing short of disgusting.”

“We’re at an impasse,” Hurst said, “and we’re calling on the public to reach out to their members of the state senate to see if we can’t get this taken care of once and for all, for those heroes that have been on the front lines for this past year.”

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