Home Family Law Georgia HB 1145 would assist households of first responders COVID

Georgia HB 1145 would assist households of first responders COVID

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Public safety officers include police officers, firefighters, prison guards, paramedics, and emergency rescue specialists.

PEACH COUNTY, Ga. — The two-year anniversary of the COVID pandemic comes as Georgia lawmakers work to help families of first responders who have died or been disabled by the virus.

“You couldn’t play with that,” said Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese.

He got COVID back in June 2020.

“I spent almost a week in the intensive care unit, the COVID unit at Macon Hospital,” Deese said.

He said it was like a dream that he thought would never happen to him. He’s fine now, but a new state law would help the families of first responders who have been unable to return to work after contracting COVID.

“I think it’s great that the state is finally looking at this and taking it seriously,” he said.

House Bill 1145 would help families of first responders if contract shows they have COVID at work. Dennis Thayer, chairman of Georgia Fallen Firefighters, was one of the bill’s creators.

“It says everyone that the public safety officer dies within 45 days of his job and dies of COVID or while working at his job as a public safety officer,” Thayer said.

Public safety officers include police officers, firefighters, prison guards, paramedics, and emergency rescue specialists.

The draft law relates to the Georgian Compensation Fund. This compensation law “provides a financial benefit to certain public school officials and staff who are disabled in the service or killed,” according to the Georgia Department of the Administrative Services.

The bill said families could receive up to nearly $150,000, depending on the case.

If someone is disabled and gets COVID while on duty, they could get $75,000, but if a first responder dies, the family is entitled to $150,000.

According to the law, vaccination status does not matter.

“Vaccination status doesn’t mean you won’t get COVID now. I’ve been fully vaccinated and just recovered from COVID for the second time,” Thayer said.

According to the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum (NLEOMF), 301 officers died from COVID last year. In all, 458 law enforcement officers died on duty in 2021. That’s a 55% increase from 2020.

During the pandemic, first responders were still working and Thayer said they are still an ongoing need.

“I think we have to take care of these people,” he said.

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