California has been one of the states hit hardest by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, the slow spread of the virus has encouraged state leaders, including those in California, to relax the various restrictions placed on American life for the past several months. However, the states hit the hardest by the coronavirus pandemic will face slower roads to recovery, and many essential industries continue their critical operations despite known risks in their workplaces.
While some states begin the steady return to normalcy, the states most heavily impacted by the coronavirus are implementing various legislative changes aimed at bolstering the economy and supporting average Americans – those whose lives have been upended by the COVID-19 lockdown order. A new executive order from California Governor Newsom specifically aims to alleviate the burden facing many of the meat packaging facilities in the Palm Springs area and throughout California.
New Rules for Workers’ Compensation and COVID-19
On May 6, 2020, California Governor Newsom announced a new workers’ compensation program aimed at helping workers who contract COVID-19 while working outside of their homes. The executive order signed by Newsom includes a me-limited rebuttable presumption for accessing workers’ compensation benefits, accessible to workers who must continue to work outside of their homes during the lockdown.
If a worker received a COVID-19 diagnosis or tests positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of performing a labor or service outside of the home, they qualify for workers’ compensation benefits under this new provision if the positive diagnosis took place following the March 19 stay at home order.
The new rules for workers’ compensation claims amid the COVID-19 outbreak come on the heels of several other legislative actions taken by Governor Newsom, including paid sick leave benefits for workers in food processing facilities, child support services for vulnerable populations and critical workers, and additional financial assistance for small businesses and their employees.
Essential Workers Face Heightened COVID Exposure
Governor Newsom’s executive order was a timely decision. While many Americans remain at home during the lockdown order, essential workers in the fields of food service continue operations even though they face a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 due to their workplace conditions. Meat packaging facilities throughout the Palm Springs area have become hotspots for coronavirus infections. Governor Newsom’s executive order ensures that workers who do contract the coronavirus at work will have access to workers’ compensation benefits.
Meat packaging facilities throughout the country are hotspots for COVID-19 transmission due to the cold temperatures these facilities must maintain for safe meat packaging operations. The virus has trouble thriving in hotter environments, and meat packaging facilities typically require workers to operate within close proximity of others, rendering the social distancing measures taken elsewhere in the country impractical.
Impact of New Workers’ Compensation Rules in California
The ongoing pandemic conditions throughout the United States have placed an extraordinary strain on the supply chains that crisscross the nation. Essential services such as medical care, food service, and transportation are facing conditions they have never experienced before. Lawmakers in California and throughout the United States are taking concentrated steps that not only protect American workers in essential industries but also keep the American economy moving at the best pace it can feasibly manage until the crisis has passed.
Navigating the workers’ compensation system is notoriously complex, and those who work within the worker’s compensation system may have trouble managing the multiple new changes that have taken effect over the last several months. A workers’ compensation attorney can be a tremendous asset to any meat packaging facility employee or other food service worker who has received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and remains unable to work under quarantine.