CLEVELAND– Some essential workers who contracted coronavirus are upset after their workers’ compensation claims were denied.
“I was just like no, this is not happening,” said Santina Curry who is employed as a corrections officer at the Cuyahoga County Jail in downtown Cleveland. “And I’m just like why? I got sick at work.”
Curry, who also suffers from asthma, experienced severe coronavirus symptoms and has been unable to work since March because she still can not pass a pulmonary breathing test. She said she knows exactly when and how she contracted the virus.
“I was working in a pod and the gentleman was coughing and he coughed all on me,” Curry said. “The following week, on Monday, I got really dizzy, really hot, and had a really really bad headache.”
The symptoms intensified and a test confirmed that she had COVID-19. She’s one of 25 correction officers at the jail to contract the virus, along with numerous detainees.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation initially approved her claim, but Cuyahoga County appealed the decision so the case went to the industrial commission, where it was denied.
“I’m shocked,” said attorney David Nager. “Because we have a governor every day telling us these essential workers are at greater risk, everyone else stay at home. It meets the definition of an occupational disease or an exposure claim.”
A spokesperson for the county told FOX 8 News they’re looking into the case, but Curry is not alone.
Nager said he has other clients, in other cities, who are front line workers and are also being denied.
“We have a firefighter, who was exposed at some point while moving a heart attack patient,” Nager said. “And without any contrary medical whatsoever, it was denied.”
He said they will be appealing both decisions. In 30 years representing injury victims, he has never seen anything like it, especially when the BWC Board approved $1.6 billion dividend for employers.
“You know, the counties have millions of dollars, the bureau has billions of dollars and our clients have next to nothing. They don’t even have a paycheck coming in,” Nager said.