California School Employee Arraigned for Workers’ Comp Fraud After Virus Diagnosis

Stephanie Medrano, 33, of West Covina, Calif., was arraigned on Tuesday on multiple counts of grand theft and insurance fraud after allegedly making misrepresentations following a COVID-19 diagnosis in an attempt to collect more than $33,000 in undeserved workers’ compensation insurance benefits.

The California Department of Insurance launched an investigation after receiving a claim of suspected fraud from Medrano’s employer, the Baldwin Park Unified School District, on Aug. 21, 2020. The investigation reportedly revealed Medrano made multiple misrepresentations in order to extend a workers’ comp claim submitted to her employer after she was diagnosed with COVID-19.

COVID-19: California May Not Reach Herd Immunity for Years

(TNS) - If everything goes according to plan, much of California could come close to herd immunity levels of vaccination by late summer. Within weeks, the effects could be dramatic: very low case rates, people comfortably allowed to gather again, maybe even some looser rules around mask-wearing.

Of course, little about this pandemic has stuck to the plan.

Between the emergence of new coronavirus variants, unreliable vaccine supplies and uneven access to the doses available, it may take months or even years longer than anyone would like to hit herd immunity. It's possible California, the nation and the world may never get there.

Making Proactive Strategic Changes to Address Risk

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way organizations operate, introducing a host of business risks. To better understand this dynamic risk environment, AuditBoard surveyed more than 2,000 attendees at our recent virtual conference about the risks they will face in 2021. Respondents felt that three major risks will require the bulk of their attention moving forward: economic threats impacting [business] growth, cybersecurity threats, and business continuity and crisis response. Organizations that take proactive measures now to address these risks will give themselves a better chance to succeed as we continue to navigate the pandemic.

Major Risks Have Ripple Effects on Businesses
Unsurprisingly, economic threats impacting growth was the number one risk on most respondents’ minds. Business leaders outside of the sample group echoed this concern, with CEOs of major companies expecting financial hardships to continue through the end of 2021 and beyond. Recessions squeeze everyone’s margins, impact demand, and make it tough to hire and retain employees. The current economic landscape has led to bankruptcies, contractions, and layoffs.

Second COVID Dose Safe 6 Weeks After First, California Says

(TNS) - California is more than eight weeks into a mass vaccination campaign to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, administering tens of thousands of shots a day.

The California Department of Public Health on its vaccine tracker reported Wednesday providers have administered 5,089,484 out of about 7.6 million doses that have been distributed to hospital systems and local health offices, an increase of 174,854 from Tuesday. The total grew by about 168,000 from Monday to Tuesday.

California to Establish Home And Community Hardening Standards for Insurance

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara on Monday announced a new partnership between the California Department of Insurance and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Administration to establish statewide standards for home and community hardening aimed at reducing wildfire risk, protecting lives and property and making insurance available and affordable to residents and businesses.

California Alerts Residents in Burn Areas About Flood And Mudslide Coverage

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara is alerting residents to review their current insurance policies in the midst of a forecast of winter weather bringing the possibility of floods, mudslides, debris flows, and other disasters to recent wildfire burn areas throughout the state.

Lara issued a formal notice to insurance companies reminding them of their duty to cover damage from any future mudslide or similar disaster that is caused by recent wildfires that weakened hillsides.

California Construction Worker Charged with Workers’ Comp Fraud

Jose Zepeda, 45, of Fresno, Calif., self-surrendered this week on multiple felony counts of insurance fraud and attempted perjury after filing a workers’ compensation insurance claim and allegedly misleading the insurance carrier regarding his employment status in order to collect disability benefits he was not entitled to receive.

According to an investigation by the California Department of Insurance, Zepeda was injured in August 2017 while employed by a local construction company. Zepeda began collecting disability benefits because his employer could not accommodate his work restrictions. The insurance company handling Zepeda’s workers’ comp claim reportedly instructed him to notify them if he found new employment because that would affect the benefits he was receiving.

California COVID-19 Benefits Fraud, Cyber Attack Could Reach $9.8B

California may have paid out nearly $10 billion in phony coronavirus unemployment claims – more than double the previous estimate – with some of that money going to organized crime in Russia, China and other countries, according to a security firm hired to investigate the fraud.

At least 10% of claims submitted to the state Employment Development Department before controls were installed in October may have been fraudulent, Blake Hall, founder and CEO of told the Los Angeles Times.

The Times said that would work out to $9.8 billion of the benefits paid from March through September.

New Wave of Virus Claims Hit California Workers’ Comp

A California Workers’ Compensation Institute analysis of claims reported to the state Division of Workers’ Compensation as of Jan. 11 shows that the number of COVID-19 claims in the California workers’ compensation system more than tripled between October and November, then jumped another 64.2% to a record 23,483 claims in December.

A new CWCIU projection shows that the December total could climb to 37,573 cases once claims that are yet to be filed or still under investigation are added to the tally.

Vaccinations: Sonoma County Residents Wondering how it will Happen

(TNS) - Jan. 10—Elizabeth Apana is 72 years old. She moved to Santa Rosa in 2019 because her cardiologist told her she needed surgery to stabilize the rhythm of her heart, and it would be too risky to have the procedure done in Hawaii, where she lived at the time. She also has congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. She is eager to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, for obvious reasons.

"Mentally, it's going to make me feel a whole lot better, because I know I won't have to worry about catching COVID, and I won't have to worry about giving it to other people," Apana said. "I feel it will be a new chance at life."


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