Legislators passed a bill this week that will ensure health care workers, emergency responders, childcare workers, and other similarly situated critical employees have access to workers’ compensation benefits if they contract COVID-19 while working. These workers are at increased risk because they have greater exposure to sick individuals, which is compounded by the concern that they lack the necessary personal protective equipment as a result of product shortages across the globe.
The legislation comes after Senate DFL legislators called for the increase in coverage during a previous floor session, when legislation passed at that time did not include such protections. Through our hard work and through the work of a coalition of outside advocacy groups, an agreement was reached amongst legislative leaders that allowed the changes to come to the Senate floor this week for approval.
Our first responders and health care workers cannot stay at home during this crisis and are instead putting their lives, and the health and safety of their families, on the line every day to keep our communities safe and care for those who are suffering. They are there for us at our most vulnerable moments, willing to risk their own safety to help all of us. It is imperative that we are there for them if they become ill through their work, and passing this legislation is the least we can do to protect them and their families.