Public Comments for 01/29/2021 Appropriations - Compensation and General Government Subcommittee
HB1985 - Workers' compensation; presumption of compensability for COVID-19.
I am a nurse working on my local hospital's HIRU (High Intensity Respiratory Unit for non-intubated covid patients). My home med-surg unit was temporarily shut down in November due to a covid outbreak in staff and patients. When my home unit resumed services, it was at 50% capacity due in part to our unit staff being floated to the HIRU and in part because another unit took over half our beds so a second HIRU could be formed. Another med-surg unit closed to provide staff to that new HIRU. Hospital-wise, all RNs and CNAs were told they could be expected to staff the HIRU at some point, and recently even non-clinical staff have been redeployed to serve as gophers on the covid units. The re-deployed staff don't enter patient rooms--though they do hand supplies into the rooms--and the hospital will not provide them N95 masks. We still have an N95 shortage and on HIRU units are required to wear the same N95 for three consecutive 12-hr shifts; this is an improvement over last summer when nurses wore a single N95 for 30 days before the N95 was reprocessed and then worn for another 30 days. My hospital does not provide or allow nurses on non-covid units to wear N95s, nor are we allowed to provide our own N95s. It is not uncommon to admit patients to the HIRU from a non-covid unit, sometimes days after they've been unknowingly infecting staff. Many types of patients are not routinely covid-tested, and no staff is routinely tested. Despite my direct care for covid patients, my employer has never qualified me to be tested, and if I choose to be tested by an outside provider, I am not allowed to work until the test results negative. I have received both doses of the vaccine. To the best of my knowledge, no employees in my health system receives any additional pay or compensation for working directly with covid patients. The effects of covid reach much further than the covid units. All staff are exposed to covid in a variety of ways, such as being infected on the job, being floated to new areas, taking on additional patient responsibilities/loads, and working extra shifts--not to mention the compromises forced by our constant concern that at any point we might be infected and might infect our family. On the HIRU, I average hours a day in a closed room in close proximity to each of my patients. In order to conserve PPE, we take a team approach and cluster care. I assess my patients, obtain and administer meds, draw blood, monitor telemetry and pulse ox, titrate oxygen, coordinate with the entire health care team, and schedule/carry-out zoom calls with family or call them with updates. Yet when I'm in the room I also get vitals, check blood sugar, turn and feed patients, brush their hair and teeth, change linens and gowns, assist them to the chair or bathroom, change briefs, bathe them on the spot if they're soiled, mop their floors, clean the toilet/bedside commode, and empty the trash and linens. We also frequently clean touchpoints outside patient rooms. Health care workers undergo a tremendous risk to provide care for covid-positive patients. Data support a higher infection rate in health care workers. We serve our community and work exhaustively for the health and well-being of the public. If there are negative health ramifications from doing our job, we should be afforded the benefit of Workers' Comp.
I am available to answer questions as a subject matter expert for Workers' Compensation.
I am a Registered Nurse with 35 years experience. I usually work 40 hours a week. Because of the increase in inpatients with COVID-19 infections, I have been working mandatory overtime. My work with patients is up close and personal. Even with PPE, I am more at risk of contracting COVID-19 than any other profession or work. I cannot maintain a social distance of six feet when I am getting a patient out of bed, when I am changing a wound dressing, when I am auscultating lungs, a heart or an abdomen. I spend more time with patients than any other person in the hospital. I sometimes spend up to two hours with one patient at one time and more if that patient has had a change in condition. I cannot work behind glass or by Zoom. Patients come to hospital for nursing care, assessment, observation and education. I keep patients safe by watching and observing trends. I am the sentinel. We are working short staffed as the COVID patients take more nurses. That increases the nurse to patient ratio that I have to work with. On top of that, I volunteered to administer vaccines at UVA. I have given COVID-19 vaccines to staff and the public. Nurses do vital and important work. I appreciate the hand clapping and thanks but my work is misunderstood. I want support and protection. I am part of a serious, expert profession that is not subordinate to, but colleagues of medical doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapist sand other healthcare professions. When everyone else has gone, or does not come to work in a snow storm, I am there. When housekeeping and catering do not turn up, I am there. I already work in difficult conditions and long before COVID-19. I care for patients with many infectious diseases, I worked for many months without a properly fitting N95 mask as the correct one for me was not available. I now have to wear a respirator that is extraordinarily uncomfortable and slips when I sweat. And you sweat when you work hard. That is what I do. I urge those in opposition to work one hour in my shoes, never mind 12-14 hours for 3 three days in a row. But you won't, because that puts you at risk and we do not allow visitors in order to protect our patients.
I am a registered nurse of 50 years and have never witnessed anything like the COVID-19 pandemic. It has had a devastating impact on so many, and particularly those nurses and other health care personnel who work tirelessly every day to care for those afflicted with the virus. Throughout my career, we have also experienced a nursing shortage, regionally. We can't afford to not take care of those who are caring for others. Show that YOU care and please support HB 1985. Thank you. Respectfully, Janet Haebler MSN RN
I am a Professor Emerita from Shenandoah University and up until five years ago, practice clinically in a rural hospital. I have been overwhelmed at the tragedy before us with COVID-19 crisis and the burden on the healthcare system and healthcare personnel. These professionals place themselves in harms way and often did not/do not have the personal protective equipment or the TIME to exercise every precaution to prevent contracting the disease since the staffing is inadequate for the demands and needs of the patients. Please provide workers' compensation to the healthcare workers if they contract COVID-19. God bless each of them for their fearless battle against this invisible foe. Support HB 1985
Please consider putting these bills into effect.
Please support our front-line workers, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, aunts, and uncles.
This is very necessary legislation for all front line workers.
I am a retired nurse. My younger colleagues caregiving up time and families to care for COVID-19 patients. Please support HR-1985 and support those people who are giving everything to care for those in need. Thank you.
As a nurse care manager for Bon Secours Mercy Hospital employees- I see first hand how many front line healthcare workers are effected financially by COVID-19 illness. And the lack of compensation specially for those who have prolonged recovery. This effects not only those who require inpatient admissions, but also those who are managed in the outpatient setting requiring cardiology, pulmonology, neurology visits in addition to their primary care physicians. Co-insurance, copayments add up for many and there is no compensation or deductions as there is no distinction between work and community exposure. For my patients they use vacation time for one week and then are placed on short term disability which is only 60% of their pay. Please support our front line workers by showing their risks are compensated!
Hello I am writing in support of HB 1978 workers compensation for COVID-19. As a registered nurse currently working in a ambulatory clinic with the Active Duty population myself and co-workers are put at greater risk for exposure to patients who have COVID. Since the Pandemic last year we have had multiple cases within our clinics put staff at risk and reducing the work force due to staff having to quarantine or isolate. While my counterparts in the hospital settings are feeling more of the impact from COVID-19. This impacts you not only physically but mentally. Having to choose between who gets a bed or not. Who gets one of the fr vents and who doesn’t. There will be long term affects from that healthcare workers like myself will have even after the pandemic.
In favor of programs to better facilitate the development and progress of my community.
Pre-Covid I was an inpatient surgical nurse. When the pandemic arrived, my unit was converted to a Covid unit and my life was instantly changed. I'm sure you're aware that we had to learn as we went through this pandemic. Recommended treatments, medications, and prevention were ever changing as the world as a whole tried to figure out how to tackle this. As a nurse I have spent the last 11 months on a rollercoaster. The elation of making inroads in care was quickly doused by the increasing stress brought on by patient loss, understaffing, stress of low PPE supplies, and having to deal with people in our lives outside of the hospital promising us this thing is "just a hoax". We tackled this head on as professionals do. With no increase in pay, but often an increase in required extra shifts, we have done our best to be the best we can for our patients. We do all we can to keep ourselves and our families safe. We distance from our loved ones, wear our masks on our days off, and strip down outside of our homes in 30 degree weather so we're not bringing scrub inside. We put ourselves on the line to help other people. We walk into the Covid unit every day with as much courage and positivity as we can. I have been coughed on, urinated on, and vomited on. We are screened before each shift because contracting Covid under these work condition is a very real possibility. I would be much safer staying home. It is for this reason that essential frontline workers should be covered under workman's comp in the event that they test positive for Covid. Healthcare workers, EMTs, police officers, firefighters, corrections officers, and teachers required to do in person classes should all have this benefit available to them. I urge you to vote for this cause. We'll be paying attention. Thank you for taking the time to read my comments.
To Whom This May Concern: I am a nurse. I have been a nurse for the past 20 years. Early in my career I worked in critical care as a Neuro ICU nurse. Then, for 13 years I worked as a civilian medevac/flight nurse. For the past 3 years I have had my boots on the ground in a community hospital Emergency Dept. COVID is crushing nurses. Hospital administrators are crushing nurses. The past 10 months have been brutal but the weeks post Thanksgiving are devastating. Hospitals focus on low volumes and ignore the high acuity. There is no support for floor nurses. My administrators leave at 14L30 every day. Not once have they donned PPE and cared for a critical ill COVID patient. Our "heroes" have zero protection if they catch COVID. You are forced to use your accrued paid time off (your vacation time). There are no protections for those that daily put their lives at risk to care for others. Everyday we gear up, have unsafe patient ratios, risk our lives, risk our licenses due to staffing and risk taking this virus home to our families. Everyday we are the ones grasping the hands of the dying listening to them struggle to breathe, listening to patients beg us to save them and beg us to tell their families they love them. Of course, due to the hypoxia they can only utter 1-2 words at a time. We are the ones doing CPR on bodies that are rotting on ventilators because families won't make their loved one a DNR. We are the ones using our own phones to FaceTime with families so that they can say goodbye. We are the ones trying to hold it all together for our patients, our colleagues and our families-but who is there for us? No one to be quite frank. Instead we are screamed at and threatened with violence daily in the ER because families won't accept the visitation policy. We are asked to do more with less-putting our licenses on the line-and we are asked to do CPR, pronounce a patient, bag their body and then check in the next patient. And in between clean and decon the COVID room because there is no one to help with that either. And let's not forget that we are getting 1 mask per week. But we are "heroes." What I know for sure is that the burnout crisis, and the providers that will permanently leave healthcare because of the COVID pandemic and how we are treated by our facilities, may be an even greater crisis than the one we face right now. Simple assurances to protect the health and safety of those on the front line would make a significant impact. Speaking from the heart-if things don't change & if support is not given to the frontline workers think about who is going to care for your loved one-not me, not my friends, not my colleagues. We will have left the profession. The "hushed" secret in this pandemic is the horrific treatment of the bedside provider by hospitals and corporations and quite frankly our elected officials. I am begging you to please do something. Protect those at the bedside before there is no one left at the bedside
On Dec. 2, I started to get sick but never thought it was Covid 19 as a nurse we never take care of ourselves like we do our patients. On Dec. 4 I tested positive for Covid and immediately started to quarantine because my son has chronic asthma and my mother is over 75. While isolating I progressively got worse and on Dec. 10 I was bought to the ER with low saturations. The physician did an x-ray and told me I had Covid pneumonia. I asked the physician if I could have any antibiotics and was told it was nothing he could give me accept something for my cough. I was told if my symptoms got worse to return to the ER. I was sent home to die. I asked my mother to go to the store and buy me a pulse oximeter. On Dec. 13 I was back in the ER symptoms worse and barely able to breath. I felt like I was drowning and the same physician who sent me home was my doctor. When he saw me he just looked like he couldn't believe how bad I had gotten in 3 days. The next thing I know I had another doctor and was being admitted to the hospital for hypoxia and Covid pneumonia. My story goes on and fortunate after a week in the hospital I was able to go home but that feeling that you are going to die to wishing you just would die was real for me and as a nurse I know that Covid patients are suffering everyday and they don't know to go out and buy a pulse oximeter so that they can monitor their oxygen levels so that when they are sent home they actually can see they are getting worse and know to go back to the hospital. I was fortunate but many are not over 400,000 people have died from Covid and something needs to be done. This is just a portion of my story and I am happy to speak to anyone who would like to hear the rest.
I am a nurse on the ICU at VCU MCV, a COVID Unit from the beginning. This is a common sense legislation. Please support us, who have fought for Virginians since the beginning of this pandemic. We put ourselves and our families in harms way every day to save lives in the community. This virus is more contagious and deadly than anything in generations. People are dying from it on my unit every week. We have received no compensation, extra staffing, or rewards of any kind. Please care for those of us that contract this disease while fighting for all of us. Thank You Ry Bergum RN BSN VCU Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit
Hi, I would like to pass the Covid-19 workers compensation presumption law which is HB 1985 Hurst. I am a Critical care nurse working in Veterans Hospital. We have many of our employees who had affected by covid in our unit as well as in our hospital. Actually there was an outbreak of Covid- 19 in one of the unit because of unidentified covid patients. In the beginning of this pandemic, not all the patients were not tested because of the uaavailability of diagnostic kits and many of our nurses got this disease from patients who were undaignosed as covid in the first place. They still suffer from the affer effect of it. In my experience as a critical care nurse , if the patient is being coded or going to fall, we risk our lives and our families lives in order to save the patient. During the code event we wont get enough time to use all the Personal Protective Equipment(PPE) before entering the patients room. Our ultimate goal is to save the patients life even if risk our own health. That is a nurse's Conscience. Many of our nurses are physically, mentally and emotionally affected by this pandemic. So far we have not recieved any compensatory pay or benefits. I would like the congress to pass the law for all the employees working in covid situation should get the benefit of complensation. Thank you
I am a nurse working at a local hospital in the Richmond area. While my children attend daycare, the school is diligent about social distancing, mask wearing, and handwashing. I, too, am diligent about these behaviors. I came down with COVID in the beginning of this month, and I believe I contracted the virus in the hospital. My entire family became infected, including my four year old and my six year old. My husband was affected the worst. Additionally, I missed two weeks of work as a result. I believe that Workers Compensation should cover the time that I, and anyone else that likely contracted the illness in their line of work, especially front-line workers, missed and any medical expenses that occur as a result of my illness. Thank you.
Here to answer any questions on behalf of DHRM.
I support the worker's compensation for COVID- 19. There are a lot of workers that are struggling to pay their bills because of illness or a dependent being ill which makes them have to lose wages because of it. Most of these workers have lost income because of their spouse dying or being ill from COVID-19. I support worker's compensation, please pay the workers while they adjust to changes in their lives.
I am a RN at Carilion Giles Community Hospital and work in the SCU with Covid-19 patients. Unfortunately, I have cared for those suffering and gasping for air with no family or clergy at their side. Nurses and CNA's have been the one's holding the hands of those taking their last breath. Many staff on our unit have contracted Covid-19, requiring extended days off work. Carilion no longer pays for time off r/t Covid-19. They assume either outside exposure or that the staff member was not wearing the PPE properly. This is unacceptable! Health care workers should not have to go into financial distress due to the fact of willingly caring for Covid-19 patients. Please support this bill and health care workers. Thank you! Patricia Miller, BSN, RN, CCRN, FNP-S
My former husband, the father of my child died on January 15, 2021. He would have turned 60 today. He was exposed at his place of employment. He received a text message on Sunday night December 13, 2020 informing him that one of his co-worker's had tested positive. He started feeling bad later that week, went to the ED on Monday 12/21/2020 and never came home. My daughter just moved back to the area with her son to be closer to us and is now having to bury her father. Her 3 year old son keeps asking where his granddaddy is. This is awful! Employer's who do not test or mandate strict precautions need to be responsible and Worker's Compensation should cover these expenses.
Last Spring, I contracted Covid-19 while directly working on a inpatient Covid-19 unit. This was not my normal area of employment at the Hospital. I have been a Registered Nurse for 24 years. I normally work in a Outpatient Surgery Center on the Hospital's campus. However, since elective surgeries were shut down, I needed to work to provide for my family. So, I went to a inpatient Hospital unit directly working with Covid-19 patients that were positive and being ruled out. After a month of working on that unit where I had to re-use supplies on a consistent basis I acquired Covid-19 and was very ill. I have asthma which is controlled and has been for quite some time and was probably in the best shape of my life. But I am here to tell you that this virus knocked me down. At times I could not even walk up my stairs to get to my bedroom, I had to figure out how to breathe and survive. At one point I had to go to the ER for severe chest pressure. Also, my Husband who has multiple sclerosis also got the virus from me. He was actually sicker than me and even longer than me. However, his employer which is a bank took care of him from the start enacting emergency leave for a minimum of 2 weeks and instructed him he would have it for 7 weeks at a minimum. You ask how do I know I gave it to him? He works from home because of his multiple sclerosis. I want you to imagine that you have kids, just like my girls who were 11 and 13 at the time, They in addition to my Louisa Neighborhood/community and my Church, Hopeful Baptist provided meals, checked on us constantly, provided groceries, took our trash to the dump, fed our chickens, mowed our lawn and countless other tasks that needed to get done. My children were the ones who poured our ginger-ale, made our jello, got us popsicles and soup just so we could stay hydrated. Recently, I went to a Workmen's Compensation Hearing and presented my case, I am currently waiting on the decision. Although I was paid in full, I went because no one knows what the future holds for Covid-19 survivors and I contracted this virus while employed! I feel strongly about this because my Dad died early from getting Asbestos at his place of employment so many years ago and it took multiple people to stand up for themselves in a court of law. I am hoping as Legislators that you take a moment to process if I was your daughter or loved one, what would you want for them. I almost gave my life taking care of others with no concern for myself. Again, I want you to hear I almost died from this virus while helping and caring for others who needed my expertise and care at their time of need!!!! I would love to share more but I currently am working and only had a few moments to write this, that's how important I feel about it!!! So please I would have been more than willing to appear in person had I known about this hearing.
Please support the COVID-19 workers compensation presumption legislation. As an APRN caring for COVID patients and seeing the impact of COVID on my colleagues, nurses need this legislation. We need to care for the caregivers/nurses. We need to be supported for our work and dedication to caring for these patients.
As a nurse, I think that it is critically important that those working with covid patients have access to worker's compensation coverage when they become exposed to or infected by covid as a consequence of their job caring for sick and dying patients. We ask healthcare providers to serve their communities, month after month. The least we can do is ensure that they have some minimal degree of financial protection if they become ill as a consequence of this work serving their communities. I encourage support of this legislation.
Dear honorable representatives of the house subcommittee L&C I am both a doctorally prepared advance practice nurse in the hospital and in an outpt facilty owned by the same health care system. I was exposed and diagnosised with COVID from my work exposure as it was wide spread to many of us. I have been proud of how my employer has executed a plan to take care of patients. However, I have been more than concerned about the care of employees. In brief, I found out accidentally that I had been exposed at a work related wide spread exposure, which impacted my exposure to those in my "circle" (put my 90 year old mother at risk, my daughter tested +; my grandkids them missed 2 weeks of traditional school), had to find my own testing center, and had to use my limited PTO (new to this position) for my time off. I know of many non health care businesses that are taking better care of their employees, covering testing, time off etc., than our own health care systems. Yet everyday, we get up and put our health and the health of our loved ones at risk. We need your support! Dr. Rosie Taylor-Lewis, DNP, ANP-BC, GNP, PMHNP-BC
I have been caring for COVID-19 positive patients since it's arrival to our county in a critical care setting. During my typical shift, at least four of my five patients will be COVID-19 positive. The patients I care for are weak, confused and anxious. They are medically fragile and code quickly. I have always volunteered to take these patients knowing that I have increased risk. I spend much of my twelve hour shift in PPE, trying to provide quality care to scared people. I sit at the beside and hold hands to comfort my patients because of their panic attacks and isolation. I have to run into rooms to keep patients from falling because they removed their oxygen and have become confused. I have helped with CPR on patients that are only later confirmed to be COVID-19 positive . PPE gowns and gloves rip, masks slip during care and anxious patients grab at PPE as they cough in our faces. We reuse PPE. Cohort studies report frontline HCWs have a significantly increased risk of COVID-19 infection. For persons working in a healthcare setting, COVID-19 is an occupational disease, and should be compensable under the Workers' Compensation Act. We should not have to prove contact as it is nearly impossible.
My name is Holly Zimmerman; I have been working as an RN for 34 years. It is the only job I know. When I got sick with COVID-19 on July 27, 2020, I had seizures and a severe respiratory infection. I subsequently developed long-haul syndrome with cognitive deficits and vision changes. I have been so weak I require physical therapy due to frequent falls. Among a multitude of other symptoms. Since I contracted COVID-19 at work, I was not able to collect Unemployment or Workman's compensation due to the CARES act. This translates to 6 months of absolutely NO income. I have been living off my 401K and receiving public assistance. I am in the process of selling my car. COVID-19 has ruined my life as I knew it. My neurologist doesn't think I will be able to return to nursing at the bedside due to cognitive losses. I also have changes in my heart function. I get frustrated because I miss my patients. Nursing is all I ever wanted to do. In my opinion and through research, the CARES act was TO quickly created. By excluding healthcare providers, a situation has been created that has destroyed many healthcare workers financially. No one could predict there would be long-term consequences from COVID-19 or that so many would lose everything, including their life. Passage of HB 1985 will help thousands regain what they lost a financial future.
Please support HB1985
As a nurse on a COVID-19 unit, I saw patients struggling for every breath. One patient was on the unit for almost 2 months while we supported his oxygenation. He needed high-flow nasal cannula and an oxygen mask most of that time. When he eventually left the unit, it was to get a lung transplant because the scarring from his battle with COVID had damaged his own lungs too badly. Our protective masks have to be so tight, they are leaving marks on our faces for hours after our shifts end. This has become the new normal but we should not settle for this world that COVID has made for us. We should not become complacent with the lives lost or scarred forever.
As a frontline nurse in a busy Newport News Emergency Department, I contracted the COVID -19 virus and was denied to return to work for 14 days, with no pay unless I wanted to use my hard-earned vacation time. I should not have to use vacation time to cover living expenses (bills, gas, insurance) when I put myself on the frontlines to save lives. A workman's compensation presumption legislation will alleviate the burden of meeting my needs for wages, associated medical and ongoing care expenses, disability benefits, and funeral assistance. Please support HB 1985!!
Mr. Chairman Thank you for allowing me to present these comments concerning HB 1985 concerning COVID 19. This bill is quite different than all of the rest of the bills you will be seeing as it only relates to Health Care Providers. This bill does nothing for firefighters, EMS providers and so forth. The code section referenced , 8.01-581.1 which defines "Health Care Providers", it does not relate EMS providers. Even though a reference is made to emergency medical attendant or technician, these are not the providers that are in 32.1-111. EMS providers are under the Department of Health and not Health Professions. Therefore the organizations that I represent are OPPOSED to this piece of legislation. Thank you for the opportunity to provide these written comments.
HB2207 - Workers' compensation; presumption of compensability for COVID-19.
It is critical that you support HB2207. Our Corrections Officers work hard to provide a safe environment for the offenders of the Commonwealth to serve their sentences and prepare them for a productive re-entry to society. They play a critical role in keeping our communities safe. If one of our Corrections Officers were to be unfortunate enough to contract this deadly virus in the line of duty, they shouldn't be burdened with the need to prove they contracted the virus in the workplace. They deserve this protection due to the nature and environment in which they work while serving the citizens of Virginia. Thank you for your consideration and support. Charles (Bubba) Craddock President National Coalition of Public Safety Officers, CWA Local 2201
This bill will provide certain workers with the presumption of illness for their occupations from COVID-19. This legislation is needed for the uniformed corrections employees of Virginia's Department of Corrections. Correctional officers are often forced to come into contact with inmates that suffer from many infectious diseases. The closed environment of a correctional facility and responsibilities that officers have while on duty increase the risk of exposure that these officers have in becoming infected. We support reporting this bill and we ask for your vote in its favor. This bill will make a real difference for the men and women who work on these posts. Del. Jones' budget amendment is listed below. Thank-you.
Our Union along with our Sister Local in Richmond represent Corrections Officers in the VA Department of Corrections at all facilities across Virginia. All law enforcement officers, corrections officers and emergency medical service personnel deserve to be protected with this presumption due to the immediate threat they all face from coming in contact with the virus daily. There have been tremendous numbers of COVID-19 outbreaks in the VA Correction Facilities since the outbreaks started in March of 2020. Virginia DOC staff and inmates are at great risk due to the confined and close housing environments, that exist at all these facilities. Please support HB2207 and show law enforcement, corrections officers and EMS Personnel that Virginia stands with them in the work they do every day. Chuck Simpson President NCPSO/CWA Local 2204 Roanoke VA
I am available to answer questions as a subject matter expert for Workers' Compensation.
Please consider putting these bills into effect.
In favor of programs to better facilitate the development and progress of my community.
Here to answer any questions on behalf of DHRM.
Answering questions related to Workers' Compensation Bills
The Virginia Sheriffs Association supports HB 2207. There are hundreds of COVID cases in Virginia’s Sheriff’s offices and one death of a deputy sheriff just last week. Deputy Sheriff’s in jails, on patrol and in our courts are exposed daily to this virus as a direct result of their profession.
I recommend support of Delegate Jones bill. Working families in Virginia need to know they are protected when their essential jobs continue to make them susceptible to potentially contracting COVID-19. There should not be such an unprotected risk while they are working to provide for their families. We represent telecom employees who perform work each day in customer's homes and businesses. This puts them at risk for COVID-19 daily. We also represent Officers in the Virginia Department of Corrections, who are at extreme risk of contracting the virus because they work daily in enclosed areas with positive and potentially positive cases. As of today, there are active COVID-19 cases that include 704 offenders and 337 VADOC staff members across the commonwealth. Please join us and the working families of Virginia in supporting HB 2207.
On behalf of the more than 9,000 Virginia Professional Fire Fighters, I rise in support of HB2207 and thank Delegate Jones, as well as Senator Vogel and Senator Saslaw for bringing this critically important legislation forward. Since the beginning of the pandemic Virginia’s firefighters and paramedics have been on the frontlines providing emergency medical care and transporting very sick patients with COVID-19 to the hospital. We do so in uncontrolled environments, requiring us to be in close proximity and for prolonged periods of time. Despite the best safety protocols and increased levels of PPE we are not immune to COVID-19 and the number of cases among those in uniform continues to rise. However Virginia’s Workers Compensation Act falls short of providing assurances that our firefighters and paramedics will be protected when they are infected with COVID-19 through an exposure to a sick patient. HB2207 has language at the request of our localities and insurance providers. • On lines 47 – 49, the legislation requires “a positive diagnostic test for COVID-19, an incubation period consistent with COVID-19, and signs and symptoms of COVID-19 that require medical treatment.” • Additionally, to curb the fiscal impact, language was added on lines 89-94 to establish a window for a COVID-19 diagnosis between March 12, 2020 through December 31, 2021 These men and women proudly serve our communities across Virginia everyday, it is imperative that our firefighters serving can access benefits that they valiantly deserve should they require medical care. Please support the bill, thank you!