FL: Attorney 'Implores' Governor to Order Coverage for First Responders Affected by COVID-19

30 Mar, 2020 Nancy Grover


Orlando, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – A Florida law firm that “represents thousands of first responders” in Florida is seeking an executive order from the governor. Saying the firm is being “flooded with calls about the lack of legal protections currently available to first responders” attorney Geoffrey Bichler sent an emailed letter to the Gov. Ron DeSantis asking that he issue an executive order.

“There should be no question that any Florida first responder either quarantined or diagnosed with the virus should have the matter recognized as work related,” the letter states. “It is with the greatest respect that I implore you to act quickly to protect our first responders.”

Bichler says the order should state that notwithstanding any general special law rule or regulation to the contrary, any first responders …”who contract, have symptoms of, or otherwise become affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), that results in a period of hospitalization, quarantine, or require self-quarantined measures as a result of being infected or coming into contact with someone who is infected with this virus, shall have their medical condition or incapacity to work presumed to be work-related.  The amount of time said public safety official is incapacitated or unable to perform their duties as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection or exposure and the required time of hospitalization, time of quarantine or time of self-quarantine shall be considered as on duty time, and said public safety official shall not be required to use sick time, vacation time, personal time or any other contractual time-off to cover said period of incapacitation or inability to perform regular duty work. This time of incapacitation or inability to perform their duties shall be considered as ‘emergency hazard health duty.’”

Of the nearly 5,000 confirmed cases of the virus in Florida as of this morning, one involves a firefighter in Sarasota County who reportedly had tested presumptively positive for coronavirus. The state has seen 60 deaths from the virus to date.

“Unlike the public at large, first responders do not get the opportunity to employ social distancing, and must place themselves at a higher risk of contracting the Coronavirus in order to serve our communities,” the attorney’s letter says. “To make matters worse, they may be unknowingly bringing the virus home to their loved ones.”

“The time to act is now as there must be complete uniformity in how employing agencies will respond to this unprecedented crisis,” it concludes.

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    About The Author

    • Nancy Grover

      Nancy Grover is a freelance writer having recently retired as the Director, Media Services for WorkersCompensation.com. She comes to our company with more than 35 years as a broadcast journalist and communications consultant. Grover’s specialties include insurance, workers’ compensation, financial services, substance abuse, healthcare and disability. For 12 years she served as the Program Chair of the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. A journalism/speech graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, Grover also holds an MBA from Palm Beach Atlantic University.

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