Burgum extends worker’s compensation to first responders, health workers who contract COVID-19

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BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum today signed an executive order extending worker’s compensation coverage to first responders and health care providers who contract COVID-19 on the job.

North Dakota’s worker’s compensation law currently does not cover viruses such as COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The law also isn’t structured to provide benefits for first responders and health care providers who are instructed to quarantine themselves away from work before a positive test confirms transmission.

“The environment these workers face today significantly increases their direct exposure to COVID-19,” Burgum said. “The scope of this order is broad and is intended to cover firefighters, law enforcement, ambulance service providers, medical service providers, and volunteer first responders and medical service providers – all critical in the fight against this virus.”

Today’s executive order also provides up to 14 days of medical and wage replacement benefits if first responders and health care providers are quarantined. No benefits will be paid after the quarantine period has ended unless the employee tests positive for COVID-19. If the virus is contracted on the job, the employee becomes eligible for full workers’ compensation benefits just like any other compensable work injury claim.

“While most workers’ compensation carriers are providing coverage for health care providers during this pandemic, North Dakota is going above and beyond to take care of its workers by providing coverage to health care providers, firefighters, law enforcement, and volunteers,” said Bryan Klipfel, director of North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance (WSI), the state’s worker’s compensation agency, and interim executive director of Job Service North Dakota.

An estimated 80,000 workers will be covered under the executive order, including:

  • 64,046 paid medical providers, including nursing home workers
  • 1,101 paid firefighters
  • 7,714 volunteer firefighters
  • 5,907 paid law enforcement personnel, including correctional officers
  • 873 volunteer ambulance personnel.

Coverage is available beginning March 13, 2020, the date that Burgum declared a state of emergency in North Dakota for the COVID-19 public health crisis.

To apply for benefits, workers can visit the WSI website at www.workforcesafety.com.

The North Dakota Department of Health today confirmed nine additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s official total to 45 confirmed cases. Three new cases were confirmed today in Cass County, two each in Ramsey and Stark counties, and one each in Foster and Morton counties. The two Stark County cases and one of the Ramsey County cases were community spread. With the addition of Foster and Stark counties, North Dakota now has confirmed COVID-19 cases in 10 counties.

A total of 1,955 tests have been completed, with test samples coming from 50 of the state’s 53 counties.

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