The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has placed a burden on the nation’s healthcare system unlike any other in recent history. It seems from the moment the virus was discovered on U.S. soil; the healthcare system has been fighting to keep up. From equipment and staff shortages to overcrowded hospitals, healthcare workers have faced countless hurdles and dangers in their fight against the virus.
New Jersey healthcare workers, in particular, have dealt with exceptionally dangerous situations for months, with no end in sight. Indeed, despite Governor Murphy’s early efforts to close schools, shut down businesses and require residents to stay at home, there are still tens of thousands of people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 across the state. Because healthcare workers selflessly put themselves on the front line to fight against the coronavirus, many have contracted the virus themselves. Sadly, many of these cases could have been prevented had hospitals been more prepared.
At the New Jersey personal injury law firm of Petrillo & Goldberg Law, we proudly represent healthcare employees who contracted COVID-19 while on the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus. As local Pennsauken injury lawyers, we are steadfastly committed to helping fellow New Jersey residents deal with the pandemic in any way we can. Our team of dedicated advocates have been representing injured clients in all types of personal injury and wrongful death cases since 1993, and have the experience necessary to effectively and efficiently help you bring a case for compensation. It is our honor to help New Jersey healthcare workers across the Garden State.
The United States has the most COVID-19 cases in the world:
- 925,758 cases
- 52,217 deaths
- 5,037,473 COVID-19 tests administered
At 102,196 cases, New Jersey has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the United States.
At 5,617 deaths, New Jersey has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the United States.
New Jersey has administered 205,921 COVID-19 tests since the beginning of the pandemic.
Source: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/ (as of 4/25/20)
The Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington area has the third-highest rate of workers who spend a significant amount of time in close physical proximity with others (33 percent of all workers).
In Camden County, there have been 2,750 cases of COVID-19 and 106 Camden County residents have passed away from complications related to the virus.
The New Jersey counties with the highest number of COVID-19 cases are:
- Bergen County – 14,363 cases
- Hudson County – 13,001 cases
- Essex County – 12,110 cases
- Union County – 11,208 cases
- Passaic County – 10,291 cases
- Middlesex County – 9,789 cases
The New Jersey counties with the highest number of COVID-19-related deaths are:
- Essex County – 975 deaths
- Bergen County – 934 deaths
- Hudson County – 640 deaths
- Union County – 542 deaths
- Middlesex County – 413 deaths
- Passaic County – 383 deaths
- Morris County – 340 deaths
Approximately 44 percent of those who were tested for COVID-19 in New Jersey tested positive for the virus.
Source: https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/topics/covid2019_dashboard.shtml(as of 4/25/2020)
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 236,330 healthcare workers in New Jersey:
- 9,280 pharmacists
- 1,890 family and general practitioners
- 1,000 general internists
- 1,310 surgeons
- 2,801 physician assistants
- 79,530 registered nurses
- 5,900 nurse practitioners
- 8,230 emergency medical technicians and paramedics
- 17,490 Licenses practical nurses and licenses vocational nurses
- 41,040 home healthcare aides
- 56,500 nursing assistants
- 19,110 medical assistants
At least 9,200 healthcare workers have been infected with the novel coronavirus. However, the actual number of infected workers is thought to be much higher due to the lack of available testing.
- At least 743 healthcare workers have been hospitalized as a result of COVID-19
- At least 184 healthcare workers have been admitted to the ICU as a result of COVID-19
- 27 Healthcare workers across the country have died from COVID-19.
55 percent of all healthcare workers who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 are believed to have contracted the virus at work.
While nurses make more than the average wage, they are also more frequently exposed to situations where they may become infected by COVID-19.
- On average, nurses make $34.49 per hour.
- On average, workers make $18.58 per hour.
- 89 percent of nurses spend significant time in close proximity with others
- On average, just 55.3 percent of workers spend close proximity with others.
- 93 percent of nurses are exposed to disease throughout their workday
- On average, just 19.9 percent of workers are exposed to disease throughout their day.
- 98.4 percent of nurses have frequent face-to-face interactions with others.
- On average, just 85.3 percent of workers have frequent interaction with others throughout their day.
Nursing assistants make, on average, slightly less than $14 per hour. Yet, 95 percent of nursing assistants are frequently in close proximity to others.
Pharmacy technicians, on average, make slightly less than $16 per hour. Yet, 85 percent of pharmacy technicians are frequently in close proximity to others.
Many healthcare workers are considered “essential” and must report to work, despite the increased dangers during the coronavirus pandemic.
COVID-19 in New Jersey
The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is an infectious respiratory disease that is spread through the air. Specifically, the virus is spread through droplets that are released when an infected person coughs or sneezes. COVID-19 can also spread when someone touches an infected surface and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.
- Symptoms of COVID-19
Symptoms of the disease are similar to the flu, and include a dry cough, low-grade fever and difficulty breathing. Some patients have reported a loss of smell, general aches and pains, nasal congestion, a runny nose, sore throat and diarrhea. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should reach isolate themselves from others and immediately reach out to a healthcare professional to determine whether they should be tested.
- Who Is at the Highest Risk?
Most of those who contract the novel coronavirus will recover within a few weeks. However, these individuals may need to be hospitalized, and possibly may need to be ventilated, although that is uncommon for healthy individuals. The major concern with COVID-19 is that it presents an increased risk of complications for those over 60 years of age, the immunocompromised, as well as individuals with certain pre-existing health conditions, including:
- Chronic lung conditions
- Serious heart conditions
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Staying Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic
To reduce the spread of the disease and to stay safe, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that everyone:
- Stay at home and self-isolate if they are feeling unwell;
- Cover their nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when coughing or sneezing;
- Wash their hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with liquid soap and water;
- Follow social distancing protocol by avoiding close contact (within six feet) with those who may have the virus; and
- Wear a mask to prevent the spread of the virus, even if you do not have symptoms.
- Interested in Learning More?
The COVID-19 crisis in New Jersey is constantly changing each day, and so do the suggestions on how to best prevent against the spread of the virus. Below is a list of resources for those interested in learning more about the virus and how to stay safe during the pandemic:
- Review Governor Murphy’s Executive orders
- Center for Disease Control COVID-19 webpage
- Center for Disease Control COVID-19 FAQs
- World Health Organization
- Latest COVID-19 statistics
- Information for travelers
The Risks Facing New Jersey Healthcare Workers
Many New Jersey healthcare workers confront COVID-19 on a daily basis. These front-line workers deal with a variety of hazards making it, at times, extremely dangerous to do their job.
The most obvious risk healthcare workers face is that many of them are frequently in direct contact with patients who have, or are carrying, COVID-19. Medical experts agree that the novel coronavirus is extremely contagious and can be transmitted through the air to those within six feet of an infected person. According to a recent study conducted by the Brookings Institute, over 93 percent of nurses are frequently exposed to disease, and 98 percent of nurses frequently have face-to-face contact with others, including sick patients. Not surprisingly, hospitals are an ideal environment for COVID-19 to spread. Healthcare workers, including nurses, doctors, pharmacists and physician assistants who work in hospitals and are constantly around infected patients are at an increased risk of contracting the virus.
All healthcare workers, but especially those who treat COVID-19 patients, rely on personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves and reduce the chances of spreading the virus to other workers, patients and the general public. PPE includes N95 respirator masks, facemasks, gloves, isolation gowns and eye protection. Unfortunately, critical PPE have been in short supply in New Jersey hospitals since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. To deal with this shortage, some New Jersey healthcare workers have created their own makeshift PPE out of more commonly available supplies, and others have been forced to reuse equipment that was intended for only a single use. Of course, re-used and home-made supplies are not an acceptable replacement for front-line healthcare workers who are already placing themselves in harm’s way to care for others with COVID-19.
Finally, New Jersey healthcare workers face an additional risk of contracting COVID-19 due to staff shortages at a time when hospitals across the state are at or above capacity. As a result, New Jersey healthcare workers are being asked to perform a herculean task without the necessary support to safely do so. Not surprisingly, healthcare workers across the New Jersey have already been infected with COVID-19, and experts believe that the number of infected healthcare workers will continue to grow at a rapid pace. Healthcare workers who have contracted COVID-19 should reach out to one of the dedicated New jersey personal injury lawyers at the Petrillo & Greenberg to speak with an attorney about their case.
Compensation for New Jersey Employees Who Have Been Diagnosed with COVID-19
Those who have been injured in a New Jersey workplace accident or have contracted an occupational disease such as COVID-19 may be able to pursue a claim for compensation. In New Jersey, there are two types of workplace injury: workers’ compensation claims and personal injury claims.
A workers’ compensation allows an injured employee to quickly obtain limited benefits after a workplace injury or after developing or contracting an occupational illness. The New Jersey workers’ compensation program is no-fault system, meaning that an employee does not need to show that their employer was at fault for their injuries. However, in exchange, injured workers give up their right to pursue non-economic damages, such as compensation for pain and suffering.
A workers’ compensation may also be contested. An insurance company may dispute the severity of an employee’s injuries or argue that the employee’s injuries were not related to their employment. For example, an insurance company may dispute that a healthcare worker contracted COVID-19 while on the job, and claim that they got the virus from another source, such as a friend or family member.
The other type of claim that may be available to a New Jersey healthcare employee who contracts COVID-19 is a personal injury claim. For the most part, there are no limits on the type or amount of damages that can be awarded in a New Jersey personal injury claim. However, to successfully bring a personal injury claim, a worker must be able to establish that the named defendant was negligent, and that the defendant’s negligence resulted in their injuries.
Due to the exclusive-remedy provision of the New Jersey workers’ compensation law, injured employees do not often have a choice of which type of claim they can pursue. law Typically, when an employee is injured on the job, their exclusive remedy against an employer is a workers’ compensation claim. Thus, absent an exception, an employee who is injured on the job can file for workers’ compensation, but cannot pursue a personal injury case against their employer.
Importantly, the exclusive-remedy provision will not prevent an injured employee from bringing a personal injury case against a third party, such as an employee of another business, a supplier, vendor or independent contractor. Also, the sole remedy provision of the workers’ compensation act does not apply if the worker’s injury was the result of an employers’ “intentional wrong.”
Contact a Pennsauken Healthcare Employee Workplace Injury Law Firm
If you or someone you care about is a healthcare worker and has recently been diagnosed with COVID-19, contact the knowledgeable Pennsauken personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys at Petrillo & Goldberg Law. Employers, including hospitals, are responsible for creating a safe workplace, and healthcare workers who have become ill as a result of their employment may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. At Petrillo & Goldberg, have assembled a compassionate team of advocates who have dedicated their career to ensuring that New Jersey injury victims recover the compensation they deserve. To learn more, call 856-249-9288 to schedule a free consultation. Petrillo & Goldberg remains open for business and will continue to serve your legal needs in this very difficult time.