CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services published an initial summary of COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims filed as of January 11, 2021. The report summarizes data for 1,179 claims; of these, 611 had been accepted for benefits. Healthcare workers had the highest prevalence of accepted claims, followed by protective service workers. At the time of the report, over $1.2 million had been paid for medical care, wage replacement, fatality benefits and other costs of accepted claims.
In May 2020, the Wyoming Legislature temporarily eased workers’ compensation eligibility for COVID-19 with a presumptive coverage clause that expired on Dec 30, 2020. Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division Administrator, Jason Wolfe, noted that this initial report likely contains most, but not all of the claims that might qualify under the temporary presumptive coverage period. “Considering that the virus that causes COVID-19 can take up to 14 days to cause symptoms and lag time in filing an injury report, it’s not surprising that we’ve continued to see new claims in January with exposure dates in December.”
The number of 611 accepted claims pales in comparison to the thousands of COVID-19 cases currently reported by the Wyoming Department of Health. State Occupational Epidemiologist, Meredith Towle, cautions against interpreting these claims data beyond their scope. “These data are very useful for understanding the burden on our state workers’ compensation system and the experiences of workers who filed claims, but they likely aren’t representative of the occupational profile of COVID-19 in the state.” Not all employers in the state are required to hold Wyoming Workers’ Compensation coverage, meaning not all workers with possible work-place COVID-19 exposure would file a workers’ compensation claim with the state.