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Omicron drives 172% hike in December Calif. COVID claims

Posted On: Jan. 14, 2022 10:10 AM CST


The omicron variant drove a one-month 172% increase in COVID-19 claims in California in December that eclipsed the summer peak during the delta surge in August, according to the latest analysis by the California Workers’ Compensation Institute.

“After peaking in August, then declining steadily throughout the fall, the monthly count of COVID-19 California workers’ compensation claims skyrocketed from 3,047 in November to 8,292 in December — the second-highest level of the year — as the highly contagious omicron variant began to take a toll, with CWCI projecting that the December total could ultimately climb to 12,438 cases as claims that are still being filed or investigated are added to the tally,” CWCI said in a bulletin released Thursday.

The more than 12,000 claims projected for December are a little more than half of the 22,516 claims projected for January 2021. The number of comp claims for COVID-19 fell steadily throughout spring before increasing again to 8,171 in August.

CWCI reports that the year-end surge pushed the total number of COVID-19 claims to 63,034, or 10% of all injury and illness claims reported to the state in accident year 2021. The total for 2021 compared to 118,995 claims in 2020, representing 17.9% of all work comp claims that year.

With the surge in cases at the end of the year, the share of COVID-19 claims more than tripled from 6.6% in November to 20.5% in December, which CWCI said was the highest percentage since January.

CWCI also reports a total of 1,284 death claims since the virus began, including 329 from 2021 and 955 from 2020.

“That means COVID death claims accounted for 54.5% of the 1,752 work-related death claims reported to the (Division of Workers’ Compensation) for AY 2020 and 39.4% of the 836 death claims reported thus far for AY 2021,” CWCI said.

The public safety and government sector saw the greatest share of COVID-19 claims in 2021, a distinction held by the health care sector the year before.

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