U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced legislation to establish a new fund to provide compensation for essential workers that were required to leave their home to perform services and became ill or died as a result of COVID-19. The fund would cover their families, as well. The Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act is modeled after the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) and follows similar bipartisan legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Senator Gillibrand co-sponsored the legislation alongside Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ed Markey (D-MA).
“Our essential workers risk their health and their lives daily to keep us safe,” said Senator Gillibrand. “From the beginning of this crisis they have been serving on the front lines, getting sick, and some unfortunately are dying. Essential workers stepped up for our country; now Congress needs to step up for them. The Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act will provide a critical fund to ensure our nation’s heroes and their families receive the resources they need. I am proud to support this important bill in the Senate, and I will work with my colleagues to ensure it becomes law.”
The Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act would create a compensation fund for all essential workers, personnel, and their families, across all industries, that were required to leave their homes to work and became ill or died as a result of COVID-19. The bill will help support essential workers across the country in their recovery by providing critical financial assistance to help with medical costs, loss of employment, loss of business, replacement services, and burial costs. The legislation would also maximize compensation for essential workers and their families by creating a website to facilitate access to the fund and by simplifying the application process to get those affected back on their feet.
Senator Gillibrand has continuously fought to protect essential workers and first responders throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Following her push, the Senate recently passed the bipartisan Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act (SAFR) which clarifies certification requirements for survivor benefits under the Public Safety Officers Benefits Program and ensures families of public safety officers lost to COVID-19 can quickly access survivor benefits. Additionally, Senator Gillibrand joined a call to create a federal fund — the Essential Frontline Worker Compensation Fund — to reimburse essential frontline workers for costs incurred while serving the American public during the pandemic. The Essential Frontline Worker Compensation Fund would help workers safely stay on the job and afford medical costs, transportation, temporary housing, childcare, and care for other long-lasting traumas that may come with serving at the forefront of this pandemic – including testing positive for COVID-19.
A summary of the legislation can be found here.