Miami Beach Police Sgt. Michelle Sayegh caught the Zika virus while on duty on Ocean Drive, one of the only two Zika “active transmission zones” throughout the entire state of Florida.
Along with the Fraternal Order of Police, Sayegh is fighting for workers’ compensation for her hospital bills, but the City of Miami Beach is trying to get her to foot the cost.
Workers’ compensation pays fully 100% of medical costs for any injured worker and reciprocates pay from the day of injury (or disease) and for any lost work time after a three to seven day waiting period.
According to the Miami New Times, Sayegh is one of two Miami Beach officers who were diagnosed with the Zika virus. The city has denied both officers insurance and hasn’t paid a dime in two months.
“They’re definitely ducking around it,” said Bobby Jenkins, president of the Miami Beach Fraternal Order of Police. “The cops feel that if they do their job, they’re not going to get covered. They’re afraid to get Zika. But they don’t get the luxury to say, ‘I’m not going to go to work today.’ They’re required to be here 10 to 12 hours a day out in the open.”
WSVN reports that earlier in October, Tonya Daniels, city spokeswoman, stated that Miami Beach employees were offered free Zika testing and repellent. To obtain full workers’ compensation, proof of Zika exposure while working is required but the city said they would honor any variation in legislation.
“In my opinion, the governor can do an executive order to cover it [workers’ comp] and it would resolve the whole problem,” added Jenkins. “Or we have to go the long way and get some state representatives and senators to make a law to change it.”
Local 10 News states that although both Zika-infected officers work in the Zika zone, they live in areas where the health department said is Zika free.