Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine affixed his signature to House Bill 606 Monday, signing into law a protective measure that provides civil immunity to essential workers that unknowingly spread coronavirus among the workplace.
It is also known as the Good Samaritan Expansion Bill, and protects employers from liability for injury, death or losses that were caused by accidental transmission of COVID-19 by essential employees carrying out their job functions.
The bill includes hospital workers, delivery drivers, grocery store employees, churches and volunteers, but does not provide immunity from prosecution to workers that knowingly had coronavirus and spread it among their workplace.
Highland County Board of Commissioners President Jeff Duncan joined the County Commissioners Association of Ohio in applauding the measure.
“There is evidently a need or concern for it statewide, but as far as I know there haven’t been any county officials that have had COVID,” Duncan said. “Of course, down the road, you never know, and in this day and age that we live in with lots of liability, I can see where there would be some concerns along those lines.”
CCAO President Carl Davis said the measure will provide local governments with immunity from liability for the good faith performance of their operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Local governments have been and will continue to be on the frontlines of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Davis said. “We thank Gov. DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly for recognizing that local officials and employees should not have to fear legal peril for their good faith actions in responding to the pandemic.”
The wording of the bill states: “No civil action for damages for injury, death, or loss to person or property shall be brought against any person if the cause of action on which the civil action is based, in whole or in part, is that the injury, death, or loss to person or property is caused by the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of, MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome associated coronavirus), SARS-CoV (Severe acute respiratory syndrome associated coronavirus), or SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), or any mutation thereof, unless it is established that the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of, any of those viruses or mutations was by reckless conduct or intentional misconduct, or willful or wanton misconduct on the part of the person against whom the action is brought.”
The new law is retroactive to March 9, which is when DeWine declared a state of emergency in Ohio.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.