State Gives Big Victory To Coronavirus-Positive Workers

Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at the California Department of Public Health on February 27, 2020 in Sacramento.
Photo credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
By KCBS All News 106.9FM and 740AM

In a huge win for nurses, doctors and first responders, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday the state will assume that any worker who contracts COVID-19 got it on the job.

Firefighters and health care unions have been working furiously behind the scenes to convince Gov. Newsom to put the burden of proof on employers, not workers, when it comes to workers' compensation for COVID-19.

Now, he’s doing just that.

The governor has signed an executive order giving coronavirus-positive Californians the benefit of the doubt.

"If you’ve tested positive or been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a physician, you are eligible for this workers' comp benefit," Gov. Newsom said. "It can only be rebutted by your employer, but under strict criteria."

Workers will no longer have to prove they got the virus at work, which can be very tough to do.

To our front line workers who test positive for #COVID19: we have your back.CA is now streamlining the process and making it easier for you to qualify for workers' compensation benefits -- retroactive from March 19th and through the next 60 days.

— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) May 6, 2020

"The whole idea is as we move into this second phase, we want to keep workers healthy and keep them safe," Gov. Newsom said. "The worst thing we can do is to have a worker that has tested positive but doesn’t want to tell anybody and can spread the disease because he or she can’t afford not to work."

Even though deaths in the state spiked to 95 total in the previous 24 hours, the governor is moving forward with plans to let some retail stores open for curbside service this Friday.

"We begin to move into phase two with our eyes wide open (and) with the data front and center," Gov. Newsom said.

Among other announcements, Gov. Newsom unveiled a new portal on the state’s COVID-19 website for anyone to find a way to get teste. He also announced that if you have missed the April 10 property tax deadline, that 10% penalty will be waived, as long as you pay by May 2021.