Georgia Home panel agrees COVID-19 will turn into a compulsory illness for cops

The Georgia Compensation Fund provides financial assistance to the families of public security officers who died or were injured on duty. Family members of public safety officers who die on duty are eligible for $150,000 from the state.

HB 1145 would allow the state Department of Administrative Services to provide compensation fund money to the families of public safety officials who die within 45 days of being diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.

Dennis Thayer, chair of the Georgia Fallen Firefighters Foundation, who is working with Gullett on the legislation, said because it’s often difficult to determine where and how someone picks up COVID-19, family members don’t have to prove that the officer met the officer while working with the virus infected .

Deaths must have occurred between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021 to qualify. Gullett said Georgia’s timeframe begins with the state’s first cases of COVID-19. The end date will likely be changed to coincide with the end of the state of emergency declared by the governor. Governor Brian Kemp last week extended the emergency order through March 24.

State Assemblyman Jesse Petrea, a Republican from Savannah, said if the bill becomes law, he expects future lawmakers to make changes.

“We will set a precedent here,” Petrea said. “And we may have another 10 years of dealing with COVID. Today we’re going to talk about right now. But we still have COVID and I suspect it will be a long time coming.