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House, Senate pass bill ensuring workers comp to first responders with COVID-19

Health care workers at St. Paul's Hospital acknowledge applause and cheers from people outside the hospital, as a convoy of first responders with lights and sirens activated parade past to show support for the hospital staff, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sunday, April 5, 2020. Photo: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP. Health care workers at St. Paul's Hospital acknowledge applause and cheers from people outside the hospital, as a convoy of first responders with lights and sirens activated parade past to show support for the hospital staff, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sunday, April 5, 2020.

KSTP
Updated: April 07, 2020 03:31 PM
Created: April 07, 2020 01:20 PM

Both the Minnesota House of Representatives and the Senate passed legislation Tuesday afternoon to ensure first responders and health care workers on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19 qualify for workers compensation, even if they can't prove they caught the virus at work.

The bill is expected to make its way to Gov. Tim Walz's desk as soon as possible so he can sign it. Once signed by Walz, the bill will go into effect immediately.

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The new rules will protect a wide range of emergency and health care workers, including police officers, firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, correctional officers, nurses, home health care workers and people who provide child care for the offspring of first responders and health care workers.

Minnesota's count of COVID-19 cases meanwhile surpassed 1,000 on Tuesday. Health officials reported 83 new cases Tuesday, taking the state’s total to 1,069. There have been four new deaths, for a total of 34.

"It’s easy to find the heroes in this pandemic," said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. "Our first responders and health care workers are putting themselves on the front line of this battle every day. They need to know we have their backs. We are pleased we were able to come to a consensus on this important issue."

"As this unprecedented public health emergency continues to unfold, this is a necessary bill that makes sure those brave workers on the front lines have access to full occupational protections. Those workers – the doctors, nurses, EMTs, and law enforcement officers in our communities – need to know their families will be taken care of should an incident arise," said Senator Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, chair of the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee. "For weeks, we have been working with representatives from organized labor and the business community to find an agreeable path forward on this issue. I believe this legislation reflects our state’s commitment to protecting those who are protecting us."


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