US lawmakers looking to add hazard pay to next coronavirus relief package

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — We know that healthcare workers and other essential employees are doing what they can to battle the effects of the coronavirus.

“Nurses, doctors, medical technicians, [are some] who literally put their lives on the line to try to keep us safe,” U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said.

Warner is one of many lawmakers who want to see hazard pay made available to healthcare workers battling the coronavirus.

“We need to do more than applaud. We need to find a way to give them more compensation,” Warner said.

A plan being discussed would give up to $25,000, not only to healthcare workers, but to other essential employees as well.

“That the person who’s checking you out at the grocery store or picking up your drugs from at the pharmacy, or the sanitation worker could be viewed as a frontline worker as well,” Warner said.

This plan, also known as the Heroes Fund, could be part of the next coronavirus relief bill, being prepared in both the Senate and the House.

“The more exposure you get to the virus, the sicker you’re going to be. And these are folks that are around it all day long,” Virginia Rep. Don Beyer said.

Beyer is calling for quick action. However, Virginia Reps. Bobby Scott and Abigail Spanberger want to keep the focus on reducing risks by supplying more protective equipment.

“The reason there’s a discussion of hazard pay is because we need to be ensuring that every healthcare worker has the personal protective equipment that they need,” Spanberger said.

“And the solution to that ought not be hazard pay, the solution is to make the workplace safer. We can do that,” Scott said.

Negotiations like these will continue until lawmakers return to Washington later this month.

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