The Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act
Soon after the Coronavirus reached our shores, it was apparent that New York City, once again, was the epicenter of the disaster. Hospitals were so packed with COVID-19 patients, that they resembled war zone refugee camps. Freezer trucks were parked outside of every hospital, and they were filled to capacity with those who died of the virus. Most of the city’s residents and workers were sheltering in place, terrified. And New York’s Bravest, once again, selflessly answered the call. Many became sick.
This time, firefighters were on the frontlines with doctors, nurses, hospital staff, EMTs, transportation workers, and grocery workers.
In May, congressional members and advocates for first responders introduced legislation to create a financial assistance program modeled after the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”). The new legislation, called the Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act, would provide financial compensation to essential workers and their families. Many of the same lawmakers who fought for the VCF’s extension are sponsors of the new Act, including Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Representative Jerrold Nadler and Representative Peter King.
Like the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, the program would be run by the Justice Department and overseen by a special master.
As advocates for the 9/11 community, we strongly support this bill. We have seen firsthand the financial hardship that families suffer when a serious illness hits home. The VCF eases that strain, and provides suffering families with financial peace of mind. We hope that the Pandemic Heroes Act will soon do the same for the frontline workers and their families, who deserve our help in their time of need.