The recent nationwide surge in COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is a disturbing reminder that our nation’s public health crisis is far from over. Despite a push to re-open, many states are now reversing course and locking back down in an effort to further curb a spread that is growing wildly out of control. Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House advisor on Coronavirus, testified before Congress that daily infections could increase to 100,000 unless states take further action to get the surge of cases under control.[i]
Illinois has thus far managed to keep Coronavirus infections under control, and has dropped to sixth in the US for total number of COVID cases.[ii] Some nursing homes are even beginning to allow visitors – such as Hillcrest Nursing Center in Round Lake, or Citadel of Wilmette. The Illinois Department of Public Health has even created a website that allows individuals to track county-level COVID-19 data.[iii] Fortunately, most counties and communities across the state – from Chicago, to East St. Louis, to Peoria, to Springfield are seeing stable COVID-19 metrics.
However, this does not mean that Illinoisans are entirely in the clear. “As more aspects of the economy open and more person to person interactions take place, there are many more opportunities for the spread of COVID-19. The virus hasn’t gone away,” said Governor J.B. Pritzker.[iv] There will be greater opportunity for the virus to spread as the state continues to reopen. This also means that workers in many front-line sectors of the economy – such as nurses, doctors, other healthcare workers, and restaurant workers – will continue to be at high risk for getting sick at work from COVID.
Those who work in healthcare and nursing homes have already suffered tremendously due to the onslaught of COVID-19. Nursing homes in particular account for 55% of the state’s COVID deaths.[v] In some nursing homes, the figures are staggering – Meadowbrook Manor in Bolingbrook had over 40 deaths, Villa at Windsor Park in Chicago had over 37 deaths, Villa East near Springfield had 23 fatalities, Edwardsville Care Center had 22 deaths, and Four Fountains in Belleville had 20 deaths.[vi] However, such tragedies are not limited to nursing home residents, as several Chicago-area nurses have lost their lives to COVID.[vii]
Those who do get sick at work from COVID have options. The Illinois General Assembly recently passed HB2455, which creates a rebuttable presumption for essential workers who contract COVID that their exposure is work-related. This means that front-line and essential workers may have a somewhat easier time proving they contracted COVID-19 through workplace exposure. Nonetheless, a rebuttable presumption is not a guarantee that a case is going to win, and employers will likely fight any claim that a case of COVID-19 is the result of workplace exposure.
Katz Friedman is currently representing many injured essential employees in work accident cases against their employers and will continue to investigate claims being made by essential workers whether it takes place from lifting, slipping, falling, or contracting COVID-19. When making decisions regarding a work injury sustained while working as an essential or front-line worker, it is wise to consult an attorney to protect your interests because it is clear that your employer already has their lawyers working trying to defeat your claim. If you or someone you know is an essential worker and suffers from COVID-19, the attorneys and staff of Katz Friedman are here to help with obtaining proper compensation.