Andrade co-sponsors bill to benefit first responders who contract COVID-19 in line of duty
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana House unanimously passed Senate Bill 232 today, co-sponsored by State Representative Mike Andrade (D-Munster).
The bill allows emergency first responders and public safety officers to receive disability and survivor benefits if they contract COVID-19 in the line of duty.
“Our emergency responders are essential workers, and so while we hunkered down, they were, and continue to be, out on the front lines serving our community,” Andrade said. “This piece of legislation not only recognizes the increased risk and responsibility they are bearing, but takes tangible action to benefit their hard work.”
SB 232 adds any variant of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), such as COVID-19, to the list of exposure risk diseases, which currently include anthrax, hepatitis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), meningococcal meningitis and tuberculosis. It also repeals the requirement for employees to receive a vaccine in order to be eligible for the benefits.
“The pandemic caused a lot of unprecedented issues, so as legislators, we need to continuously update our definitions and laws so they can best serve Hoosiers,” Andrade said.
From March to May 2020, first responders in New York and New Jersey experienced significantly higher rates of COVID-19 cases than found in the general public, according to early research.
Individuals who could receive these benefits include: local police and firefighters, county police officers, county sheriffs, town marshals, deputy town marshals, emergency medical services providers, probation officers and community correction officers.
SB 232 now heads back to the Senate for final approval.