Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the pandemic is putting law officers, paramedics and other first responders at even greater risk as their routine interactions with the public could leave them with a potentially deadly case of COVID-19.
Grassley is introducing a bill that would guarantee federal survivor and disability benefits for first responders who are felled by the coronavirus. “It’s nearly impossible to prove that an officer contracted the virus while at work,” Grassley says, “so this bill clarifies that families of officers who die of COVID-19 will be eligible for benefits if the officer was diagnosed within 45 days of his last shift.”
The measure is called the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act. Grassley says it could go to a vote in the Senate yet this week — which is National Police Week. “The bill’s a very important bill to help these police officers and first responders just like if they were killed in the line of duty by gunfire, as an example,” he says.
Grassley, a Republican, says the bill recognizes the sacrifice of first responders and provides a measure of certainty when they report to work during the pandemic.