First bill passes: state lawmakers unite to help front line workers in the pandemic

First bill passes: state lawmakers unite to help front line workers in the pandemic
Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 11:20 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (KBJR) - For many people, getting hurt on the job is followed by a workers’ compensation claim.

But what about people who get sick at work in the midst of a pandemic?

Minnesota lawmakers passed a bill Thursday, reinstating a process called presumptive eligibility.

It allows frontline workers who contract COVID-19 to receive workers’ compensation.

“We presume that you got it from work because of the nature of your work,” said Senator Jen McEwen, a DFL state senator representing Duluth.

According to lawmakers, the bill covers frontline workers without making them prove they caught the virus at work.

“We didn’t want to have to burden them with having to put together proof about where they got COVID,” said Senator McEwen.

Workers’ Compensation can provide lost wages and cover the cost of medical care.

Officials said for many frontline workers, including nurses, COVID exposure is part of the job.

“Ultimately what we want is to make sure that workers are supported so that when they do get COVID or are exposed to COVID, they’re able to stay home and not continue that spread,” said Chris Rubesch, First Vice President of the Minnesota Nurses Association.

This latest bill reinstates a law that lapsed at the end of 2021.

It passed both chambers with bi-partisan, nearly unanimous support.

Republican State Senator Jason Rarick said the bill may help workers even after they’re back on the job.

“For anyone that ends up with long-term health impacts from COVID, this gives them coverage through work comp instead of their other insurance,” said Senator Rarick.

For those on the front lines, the effects will be felt immediately.

“This really is something that’s gonna make a huge difference in the lives of frontline workers, including the healthcare workers that I work with right now,” said Rubesch.

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