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Virginia Senate Shelves COVID Workers Comp Bill for Now

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Should workers who get COVID-19 be eligible for workers’ compensation?

What happens if you get COVID-19 while on the job? Should you be entitled to worker’s compensation? Members of the Virginia state Senate are debating it.

“The presumption would be that if you came down with COVID, it was a function of where you work and what you do," says Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw. He introduced a bill that started out covering a handful of workers like firefighters and emergency medical services.

“Along the way, it picked up health care workers, and it should have, particularly those who work in hospitals as doctors and nurses," Saslaw says. "It also picked up teachers who teach in person two or more days a week."

Along that way, it also got pretty complicated and lost support from people like Senator Chap Petersen, a Democrat from Fairfax City.

“If we pass this we wouldn’t have in-person instruction this year because you couldn’t get insurance for your school employees," says Petersen. "And I think that’s a policy decision that I’m not ready to make right now.”

For now, the bill is on hold to see if there’s some way Senators can make sure people who deserve workers’ compensation get it while not breaking the bank or providing too much liability for the state.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.