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Borrello Sponsors Bill Authorizing Virus Coverage

State Sen. George Borrello is the co-sponsor of legislation authorizing coverage for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers who are exposed to or come into contact with COVID-19.

S. 8041 was introduced in the state Senate on March 12 by Sen. John Brooks, D-Massapequa, with two Democrat co-sponsors and two Republican co-sponsors. Companion legislation hasn’t been introduced yet in the state Assembly.

The proposal adds a new section to the state Volunteer Firefighters Benefit Law and the Volunteer Ambulance Workers Benefit Law to stipulate that if, during a declared state of emergency, a volunteer firefighter or ambulance worker is exposed to COVID-19 that local fire department of ambulance department officials can authorize immediate testing and treatment. Any condition, impairment of health or death resulting from COVID-19 would be covered by the appropriate benefits law.

“Our volunteer firefighters, and ambulance workers put their lives on the line to help others without regard for the implications they or their families may face as the result of the dangers associated with their heroism,” Brooks wrote in his legislative justification. “Currently they are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic without coverage under their existing injury and death benefits. The brave men and women who respond to fires, natural disasters, pandemics, and all manner of other catastrophes must be protected. These benefits make it possible for our volunteer first responders and their families to make it by when tragedy strikes. Therefore, they should be extended to include the current pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus.”

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