Governor Tim Walz recently signed legislation expanding workers’ compensation eligibility for emergency first responders and front-line workers. The bill now allows front-line workers to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if they test positive for COVID-19.
“Minnesotans came together – labor organizations, businesses, Democrats, and Republicans – to move this legislation forward,” said Gov. Walz. “Our first responders and front-line workers are making tremendous sacrifices – and it’s our duty to protect them as best we can. This law does exactly that.”
“We are here for our first responders and health care workers who are fighting non-stop to keep Minnesotans safe,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “I’m proud of the tireless, bipartisan work at the legislature that went into getting this agreement.”
The bill expands eligibility for front-line workers including doctors and nurses, firefighters, paramedics, police, long-term care workers, home health workers, correctional officers, and child care providers by creating the presumption that a COVID-19 infection is work-related unless the employer is able to prove that infection happened elsewhere.
Gov. Walz also signed an executive order to help protect Minnesota’s first responders by sharing information between the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS), and 911 Dispatchers and first responders.
The executive order directs the Commissioner of Health to develop protocol for the sharing of information while safeguarding patient privacy.
First responders keep Minnesotans and their communities safe and help ensure that critical services continue to be provided—and it is imperative to protect their health and safety.
To this end, limited information—the addresses where a positive COVID-19 case has been identified and is still contagious—can be disclosed via DPS to Public Safety Answering Point (911) dispatchers and first responders in a very limited fashion.
In compliance with the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, which protects private data, there are strict prohibitions against inappropriately sharing this information beyond those who have an emergent need to know it, and the Executive Order contains safeguards to prevent abuse of this data.
This order is effective upon filing with the Secretary of State.