State statutes require workers to demonstrate that they have acquired an illness at work in order to be eligible for healthcare, wage replacement and other benefits. The nearly impossible burden of proving how and when COVID-19 was contracted has meant denials for the vast majority of workers’ compensation claims since the virus came to Connecticut.
“The governor’s executive order is an important step toward fairness for all of us who risked our lives during the pandemic,” said Diane Logan, RN. An outpatient staff nurse in the dermatology clinic at UConn Health in Farmington, she was among the first wave of health professionals in late March to contract the virus.
“Caring for patients battling COVID-19 did not come without enormous sacrifice for those of us on the frontline,” added Logan, a member of our University Health Professionals. “I appreciate the governor honoring mine by establishing the presumption that I contracted the virus on the job so others could ‘stay home and stay safe,'” she said.
Local union president Bill Garrity, RN, in early May encouraged Logan to share her personal story during a press conference organized by the Connecticut AFL-CIO. It was an opportunity both to advocate for change — and express gratitude for the solidarity of her colleagues.
“I further thank Bill, as well as labor leaders, attorneys and so many others behind the scenes who supported me during this difficult time,” Logan added.
The executive order creates a presumption that exposure to the coronavirus is work-related for essential workers between March 10 and May 20, when COVID-19 cases peaked in Connecticut. It also eliminates the need for protracted and lengthy appeals.
While employers may still attempt to prove infections are not job-related, the directive lifts the burden of proof off the backs of affected workers.
for press reporting on the governor’s order.
“After months of advocacy and an incredible, united effort by labor and legislative champions, this was good news,” said AFT Connecticut Vice President John Brady, RN. “It’s gratifying to notch a win that offers some real relief for working people,” added Brady, who worked as an emergency department nurse at William Backus Hospital in Norwich.
“Our frontline heroes have taken care of us; they deserve to be taken care of,” he added.
for Brady’s report on the win at his blog.
Editors note: includes contributions by Jennifer Berigan, Connecticut AFL-CIO.