COVID-19 Workers' Comp Claim Volume Trending Up Again in California
Oakland, CA (WorkersCompensation.com) – With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases hitting record levels, California workers' comp COVID-19 monthly claim volume, which fell sharply in August and September, is now trending up again, climbing 9.0% in October, then more than doubling in November according to a California Workers' Compensation Institute (CWCI) review of claims reported to the state Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) as of December 14.
Updated figures show that the number of COVID-19 workers' comp claims reported to the state each month rose steadily from January through July of this year, when it peaked at 14,925 cases, then tailed off sharply at the end of the summer, dropping 56.5% in August to 6,499 claims, and falling another 34.7% in September to 4,247 claims. That downturn, however, was not long-lived, as the December 14 tally noted 4,628 COVID-19 claims from October (+9.0%) and 10,395 claims from November (+112.7%), bringing the total number of reported COVID-19 claims through November to 65,165, or nearly 1 out of every 8 California workers' comp claims reported this year. Furthermore, the October and November claim counts are relatively green as claims from those months are still coming in or still under investigation, so the number of COVID-19 claims from those months will be increasing. CWCI's projected COVID-19 claim count based on historical claim development that accounts for delayed reporting of COVID-19 claims estimates that ultimately there will be 5,415 claims from October, and 17,312 claims from November – which would be a new monthly record.
Even with the addition of the COVID-19 claims to the 2020 total, DWC has recorded only 531,959 work injury claims from the first 11 months of this year, down from 639,649 claims from the first 11 months of 2019 (-16.8%), as the economic slowdown and the large number of Californians working from home has reduced the number of job injuries, though that difference shrinks to just 10.4% if the projected ultimate claim count is used. Among other details noted in the latest report: the Inland Empire/Orange County accounted for more COVID-19 claims in October and November than any other region -- including Los Angeles County; health care workers' share of the COVID-19 claims has declined from 47.8% last spring to 31.2% this fall; males and younger workers have seen their share of the COVID-19 claims increase; and COVID-19 claim denial rates have been fairly steady since last spring, with roughly one-third of the claims denied, often because the claimants do not test positive for the virus.
The latest results on California workers' compensation COVID-19 claims are featured in the December 14 update to CWCI's COVID-19 and Non-COVID-19 Interactive Claim Application, an online tool that integrates data from CWCI, the DWC, and the Bureau of Labor and Statistics to provide detailed information on California workers' comp claims from comparable periods of 2019 and 2020. The new version features data on 1,047,448 claims from the first 11 months of accident years 2019 and 2020, including the 65,165 COVID-19 claims reported for January through November of this year. CWCI's COVID-19/Non-COVID 19 data app is updated biweekly and is available to the public here. CWCI members and research subscribers also access a detailed summary of the latest results in CWCI Bulletin 20-23, available here.
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