In Connecticut, infectious diseases are generally not considered compensable. The exception to this general rule is occupational diseases which the statute defines as “any disease peculiar to the occupation in which the employee was engaged and due to causes in excess of the ordinary hazard of employment.” C.G.S. § 31-275(15). Case law has interpreted this provision to mean that occupational diseases are those diseases in which there is a causal connection between the duties of the employment and the disease contracted by the employment. The disease need not be unique to the occupation, but the disease needs to be distinctively associated with the employee’s occupational that participation in employment activities increases the risk of exposure to the occupational disease. See Estate of Doe v. Department of Correction, 268 Conn. 753 (2004).
As with all cases, the employee will still have the burden of proving causation (i.e., that the employment is a substantial contributing factor to the disease). Based on current case law, some healthcare workers directly caring for patients with COVID-19 may be able to pursue a claim under the occupational disease statute if they are able to support their claim with medical evidence.