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Union: Disney World Fire Crews Not Getting Comp Benefits for COVID-19

  • State: Florida
  • Topic: SOUTH
  • - Popular with: Legal

Despite working in one of the nation’s hot spots for new COVID-19 infections, firefighters who serve Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando are still seeking sick leave and workers’ compensation benefits for those who may be affected by the virus, according to local reports.

Union leaders for the Reedy Creek Fire Department told the Orlando Sentinel that 90 firefighters and paramedics were exposed to COVID within the past two weeks, including 10 who contracted the virus.

Many fire employees have reportedly shown up to work with possible COVID symptoms because they are not allowed to collect workers’ comp for claims related to the virus, the Sentinel reported.

Instead, department employees have to use personal leave hours for sick days if they choose to quarantine or get tested, the union told the newspaper.

Disney declined to comment on the matter, and a Fire Department spokesperson said the agency wasn’t allowed to confirm COVID numbers for its employees, the Sentinel reported.

An attorney who spoke to the Sentinel said some firefighters’ COVID claims have been denied, even though a Florida law directs the state to provide coverage to workers who contract the virus.

The Sentinel reported that Orange County Fire Rescue workers who test positive for COVID can receive comp benefits until a physician clears them to work again.

Employees from Orlando’s city fire department also can file for workers’ comp related to COVID, but they must exhaust personal leave hours if they need to quarantine, the Sentinel reported.

Between January 2020 and June 2021, workers in Florida filed 44,613 COVID indemnity claims, according to data provided by the state Division of Workers’ Compensation.

Although indemnity claims sunk to a pandemic low of just 298 in June, infections are on the rise in Florida.

According to data compiled by The New York Times, there were 20,656 new COVID cases in the state on Thursday alone. 

Florida averaged more than 21,000 COVID cases per day over the past week, according to the data.

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