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Report: California Workers’ Comp Virus Claims Spiked During December Surge

January 19, 2022

California workers’ compensation COVID-19 claim volume continues to track with the state’s fluctuating infection trends, as the latest monthly count of COVID workers’ comp claims jumped 172% in December to the second highest level of the year as the Omicron variant spread rapidly across the state.

That’s according to a California Workers’ Compensation Institute review of claims reported to the state Division of Workers’ Compensation.

CWCI’s latest projection also shows that the December total could ultimately increase to 12,438 cases once claims yet to be filed or still under investigation are tallied.

The update to CWCI’s COVID-19/non-COVID-19 Interactive Claim Application, which includes data on California workers’ comp claims from comparable periods of 2019, 2020, and 2021, shows that 181,770 COVID claims reported to the DWC since the pandemic was declared in March 2020.

The latest results from the CWCI show the monthly COVID claim count fell to a five-month low in November, then reversed course in December as the Omicron variant led to a wave of coronavirus cases throughout the state.

While additional claims with November and December injury dates are still being reported, the current count of 8,292 COVID claims for December represents a one-month increase of 172% and is already above the peak level reached in August during last summer’s Delta surge, according to CWCI.

The spike in claim volume at the end of the year pushed the total number of COVID claims reported to the DWC for 2021 to 63,034, which is 10.0% of all 2021 work injury and illness claims reported to the state.

That was better than the 118,995 COVID claims reported for 2020, prior to the availability of COVID vaccines, when COVID cases accounted for 17.9% of all California workers’ comp claims reported to the state, according to CWCI.

However, with the Omicron surge at the end of 2021, COVID claims as a percent of all California workers’ comp claims more than tripled from 6.6% in November to 20.5% in December ­– the highest percentage since January 2021.

The latest results are from the January 10 update to CWCI’s COVID-19/Non-COVID-19 Interactive Claim App, which integrates data from CWCI, DWC, and the Bureau of Labor and Statistics to provide information on California work injury claims from comparable periods of 2019, 2020, and 2021. The app is updated biweekly and is available to the public. CWCI members and research subscribers also can access a detailed summary of the results in CWCI Bulletin 22-01 on the group’s website.

Topics California Claims Workers' Compensation

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