Chicago issued an emergency travel order which began at 12:01 a.m. Monday and will remain in effect until further notice.[i] This means that anyone who has contact with one of fifteen states (listed in the travel order) and enters into Chicago will need to quarantine for 14 days. This applies to those individuals visiting Chicago or returning to Chicago from visiting those states.
States included in the order are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.
The rationale for this emergency travel order is that these States are seeing significant increases in COVID-19 cases and infection rates. Some of these states are reporting record numbers. What this means for Chicago-area workers that revolve around or relate to those types of industries that deal with interstate travel is that they now might have a higher probability of contracting COVID-19 then they were weeks or months ago.
The idea behind the travel order attempts to minimize individuals who potentially have COVID-19 from infecting more people in Chicago. However, for Travel/Transportation/Hospitality workers, this travel order does nothing to protect you at work. As the saying goes, “the damage is already done” by the time the Travel Order requires these hot-spot State travelers to do anything.
Individuals from hot-spot States are still allowed to travel, and as a result, will contact hundreds of people along the way. The Travel Order only indicates that once individuals arrive in Chicago do they have to do something, they must self-quarantine.
So a flight attendant may still have had close contact with an individual with COVID-19 while they were traveling. Workers at O’Hare and Midway airports still have to interact with people from these hot-spot States; this obviously will include other airline workers but also includes all of the custodial, shop, and food service workers. Transportation workers like Chicago Transit Authority and Taxi drivers will still have contact with individuals who eventually will have to self-quarantine themselves because of this Travel Order. For those travelers who are visiting Chicago, they will be staying in hotels and exposing all of the staff to that potential threat of COVID-19. Throughout this pandemic, we have often seen that some of these types of industries occupy the most dangerous jobs in the age of COVID-19.[ii]
Governor Pritzker recently signed the “Covid Bill” (H.B. 2455)[iii] which gives a rebuttable presumption for essential workers and first responders that they contracted Covid-19 from work. This Bill is significant because it reverses the normal operating procedure for Workers’ Compensation claims regarding Covid-19 cases, to the benefit of injured workers.
As time continues to pass through this COVID-19 pandemic, people have gotten more comfortable and numb to the reality that we are still in the middle of it and people are still at significant risk of getting hurt. These workers are friends, family, neighbors, who deserve to have a safe and healthy place to work.
Travel/Transportation/Hospitality workers who contracted COVID-19 at work have rights. Katz Friedman is currently representing flight attendants, Chicago Transit Authority workers, and other travel related workers in work accident cases against their employer. Handling these types of workers’ compensation claims can be difficult and it is wise to consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to protect your interests. If you or someone you know is exposed to these types of risks and suffers from COVID-19, the attorneys and staff of Katz Friedman are here to help with obtaining proper compensation.