Minnesota Labor Department Tallies Up COVID-19 Workers’ Comp Cases

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry recently released data showing that through September 11, 2020, 4,822 COVID-19 related workers’ compensation claims have been reported to the Department of Labor and Industry.

This data represents the total number of claims of COVID-19 exposure or illnesses, but does not indicate how many of these claims were actually accepted, or whether any lost time resulted from these reports.

Cases Decline After April Spike

The data shows that injury reports are typically received a few weeks after exposure or onset of illness. The first COVID-19 related injury date was reported to have taken place on February 26, 2020. After the passage of the workers’ compensation amendment creating a statutory presumption for specific employment groups, there was a spike in claims culminating in a high of 788 for the week of April 22, 2020 followed by a steady decline in claims before an uptick of 633 claims the week of May 20, 2020.

Since that time, the number of claims dramatically declined and has held steady at 70-141 claims per week.

Health Care Industry Leads the Pack

As expected, the most common industry sector with COVID-19 claims is healthcare and social assistance with 3078 claims, or roughly 62 percent of all reported claims. Within that sector, nursing assistants and registered nurses are filing the most claims at 663 and 530 respectively.

Manufacturing sectors follow with 979 claims and public administration has 400 reported injury claims. Food processing workers have 381 reported COVID-19 related injuries, while police and correctional officers/jailers together reported 190 COVID-19 related injuries.

Metro Area is the Hot Spot

Geographically, most COVID-19 related workers’ compensation claims derive from the seven-county metro area with 2,006. Nobles County, where meat packing is a major industry, had 584 reported claims and Stearns County reported 553 work related COVID-19 injury claims.

The Department of Labor and Industry has not released statistics regarding the number of claims that have been accepted as compensable or the benefit types or amounts paid. The number of admitted claims will depend on the number of claims that arise from employment groups that fall within the statutory presumption and claims from employment groups where employees are likely to work in common spaces.

It is also interesting to see that after an initial surge in COVID-19 claims, there was a steep decline and steady number of claims reported. These numbers may change if there is a large spike in overall number and severity cases of COVID-19 in the fall and winter, which would most likely affect the healthcare sector.

Bottom Line

The cost of COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims may not be known for many years since we are not yet able to gauge the long-term effects of the illness.  We anticipate, however, that those effects will prove to be dramatic.