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BOSTON—Recently, Representative David Biele submitted written testimony in support of H.4611/S.260, An Act relative to emergency hazard pay to the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.

As written, the legislation would create a presumption that public safety officials who have been exposed to or contracted COVID-19 resulting in hospitalization or quarantine, contracted their medical condition or incapacity from COVID-19 in the line of duty.

The legislation defines public safety officials as “police officers, fire personnel, correction officers, dispatchers, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, nursing professionals and first responders.”

Under the legislation, the amount of time a public safety official is hospitalized or quarantined due to COVID-19 would be considered as “emergency hazard health duty” for the period of incapacity from regular work.

The number of documented exposures to COVID-19 and the number confirmed cases for public safety officials continues to grow. According to available data, between March 16 and March 29, the number of confirmed exposures to COVID-19 for one group of first responders increased from 88 individuals to over 1000 individuals. During that same timeframe, the number of first responders who tested positive increased from 0 to 34, and the number in quarantine increased from 12 to 491.

“Our first responders are at the forefront of addressing the COVID-19 public health pandemic and its impacts in our communities,” said Rep. Biele. “This legislation will protect our first responders from economic or financial penalty caused by missed work time from exposure to COVID-19 as they continue to respond to this public health emergency while taking care our communities and residents.”

This bill is currently under review by the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, and testimony was submitted remotely and electronically.

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