While the Federal expanded benefits are ending for many workers on Labor Day, Workers’ Compensation Benefits are still available for those workers who have been exposed to COVID at work and contract disease and remain ill from Long COVID.
It has been reported that, "Long-term symptoms associated with COVID-19 represent an emerging public health concern." Wanga V, Chevinsky JR, Dimitrov LV, et al. Long-Term Symptoms Among Adults Tested for SARS-CoV-2 — United States, January 2020–April 2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2021;70:1235–1241. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7036a1 "In a sample of U.S. adults tested for SARS-CoV-2, symptoms often associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection were common; 65.9% of respondents whose SARS-CoV-2 test results were positive reported symptoms lasting >4 weeks."
Federal Expanded Benefits End
Expanded unemployment insurance (UI) benefits established under the federal CARES Act in March 2020 and renewed by the Continued Assistance Act in December 2020 and again by the American Rescue Plan in March, are expiring Sept. 4.
Enhanced UI benefits were quickly enacted as the COVID-19 pandemic uprooted millions of workers across the country, causing many to abruptly lose their jobs or prevent them from finding new ones. These programs provided supplemental funds on top of regular UI payments and extended benefits to those who typically would have been ineligible.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Long Covid
Workers’ Compensation Benefits (Temporary, Medical, and Permanent) are available for those ill employees who have suffered illness from work-related COVID-19 exposure and disease. Some long-term residuals have been named “Long COVID.” A recent study reported that “The sequelae after recovery from acute COVID-19 have been widely reported and have become an increasing concern. In our previous cohort study with a median follow-up time of 6 months after symptom onset, approximately three-quarters of COVID-19 survivors discharged from the hospital still had persisting symptoms, and patients who were critically ill during hospital stay had a higher risk of lung diffusion impairment and radiographic abnormality than did those who had lower disease severity.” Symptoms of “Long Covid” may appear even after mild or asymptomatic disease.
Symptoms of Long COVID [PASC - Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-Co-V-2 Infections]
- Loss of sense of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Ear pain
- Chills or shivering
- Feeling feverish
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Joint or muscle pain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Vision issues
- Anxiety-Mental Health
- Blood clots
- Edema of lower limbs
It has been estimated that 30% of COVID-10 survivors will result in PASC. The number may even be higher. Over 45% have at least 1 long-term symptom. Zhang X, Wang F, Shen Y, et al. Symptoms and Health Outcomes Among Survivors of COVID-19 Infection 1 Year After Discharge From Hospitals in Wuhan, China. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(9):e2127403. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.27403 Long COVID symptoms are more common than those after flu. Maxime Taquet ,Quentin Dercon,Sierra Luciano,John R. Geddes,Masud Husain,Paul J.Harrison, Incidence, co-occurrence, and evolution of long-COVID features: A 6-month retrospective cohort study of 273,618 survivors of COVID-19, September 28, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003773.
Proving an Occupational Exposure Claim in a Pandemic World: “It’s Airborne”
Recently advanced research is refocusing on how the workplace dynamic needs to shift to prevent occupational exposures in a pandemic world. A new study suggests that the airborne transmission of respiratory viruses plays a significant role in spreading COVID-19. Understanding the mechanisms of airborne transmission provides insight into occupational exposure and its causal relationship to disease in the workplace.
The study was published in Science:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed critical knowledge gaps in our understanding of and a need to update the traditional view of transmission pathways for respiratory viruses. The long-standing definitions of droplet and airborne transmission do not account for the mechanisms by which virus-laden respiratory droplets and aerosols travel through the air and lead to infection. In this Review, we discuss current evidence regarding the transmission of respiratory viruses by aerosols—how they are generated, transported, and deposited, as well as the factors affecting the relative contributions of droplet-spray deposition versus aerosol inhalation as modes of transmission.
Consult an Attorney-at-Law
If you have been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace and are suffering from Long Covid symptoms, you should consult an attorney at law as soon as possible to determine whether a formal claim can be filed on your behalf.
Gelman, Jon L., Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Long COVID, Workers' Compensation Blog (Sept. 3, 2021), https://workers-compensation.blogspot.com/2021/09/workers-compensation-benefits-for-long.html
Gelman, Jon L., Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Long COVID (September 17, 2021). Workers' Compensation Blog, Sept. 17, 2021, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3935762
Recognition of Post Acute Sequela of COVID
"The World Health Organization (WHO) created the ICD-10 code, U09.9, which is being proposed to be adopted into ICD-10-CM (the United States’ version of the classification system) without modification. WHO named it, ‘Post COVID-19 condition, unspecified,’ and their instructional note says, “this optional code serves to allow the establishment of a link with COVID-19. This code is not to be used in cases that still are presenting COVID-19.”
"There will be an instruction to “Code first the specific condition related to COVID-19, if known, such as chronic respiratory failure, J96.1-, loss of smell and taste, R43.8.” The expected implementation date is October 1, 2021."
A grassroots support/advocacy group has emerged for long-COVID patients, Survivor Corps. The group claims over 150,000 members.
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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 firstname.lastname@example.org have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.
Updated: October 5. 2021