An executive order that Gov. Ned Lamont signed last week stands to help many essential workers who stayed at their posts during the lockdown of the state in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
This move — which will likely provide hundreds, possibly thousands, of frontline workers "presumptive eligibility" for workers’ compensation benefits if they contracted the virus while on the job during those days — is a responsible and reasonable way to recognize the unprecedented medical and economic crisis that has struck the state and the nation this year.
The governor made the decision after input from workers, unions and some state lawmakers, but fewer than one-third of states have enacted such a policy.
These are workers, deemed essential, who missed a day or more of work between March 10 and May 20 due to a diagnosis of COVID-19, or due to symptoms of COVID-19, contracted while at work. They were concerned that they had no guarantee they'd qualify for compensation to cover lost wages and their medical care.
Sal Luciano, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, told The Associated Press that the order “finally shows some appreciation for the exceptionally challenging jobs” that Connecticut's essential workers were forced to do while risking their exposure to the coronavirus while Lamont's stay-at-home order was in place.
“Our state owes a debt to all of the health care professionals, grocery store clerks, and other essential workers who served vital roles during the earliest and darkest stages of this public health crisis,” Lamont said in a written statement.