Trump wants hazard pay for ‘warriors’ fighting on front lines of coronavirus

(Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

President Donald Trump indicated that his administration is “looking at” securing hazard pay for people who are being exposed to coronavirus while doing their jobs.

The president spoke to “Fox & Friends” Monday about considering a way to get funding or “bonuses” to those exposed to COVID-19, notably medical workers he referred to as “warriors” in the fight against the global pandemic.

(Source: Fox News)

The president told the Fox News hosts that he expected coronavirus cases in the U.S. to peak “around Easter” and reiterated his extension of social distancing guidelines through the end of April, which he announced at his Sunday news briefing.

He was asked questions sent in by Fox News viewers about his administration’s response to the growing number of cases, which exceeded 143,000 as of Monday morning, and responded to one question from a nurse about providing hazard pay to health care workers as some of them would not qualify for a stimulus check.

“As an ER nurse, my co-workers and I are putting our lives and those of our families in direct harm from Coronavirus patients. Most of us do not qualify for the stimulus bill and yet our expenses have increased tremendously. Have you considered any type of hazard pay for those of us in direct contact with the virus?” the email from a woman named Wendy read.

“We are looking at that and we’re looking at that as either an amendment or something but you know, these are incredible people. I see it just watching. I see it all the time where these people are walking into wards with so many people that are so sick, and you know, it’s like the percentage of them having a problem is relatively high, even when they have the equipment…these are really brave people. Actually they are warriors in a true sense,” Trump said.

“We are looking at different ways of doing it primarily through the hospitals because we’re funding hospitals, and these are generally hospitals that she’s talking about, so we are doing it through funding, through the funding of the hospitals,” he added.  “We are asking the hospitals to do it and consider something, including bonuses, and I think they are entitled to it. If anybody is entitled to it they are.”

Faced with a shortage of personal protective equipment like masks, gowns and gloves, doctors, nurses and other health care workers on the front lines in dealing with the pandemic have expressed their worries about being exposed.

Three Federal Bureau of Prisons corrections officers filed a lawsuit against the government over the weekend seeking hazard duty pay, claiming their jobs exposed them to people who tested positive for COVID-19.

“If we’re expecting them to go into work and do these jobs to keep people safe and keep our county running and make sure there is food on the shelves for the rest of us, they should be getting this hazardous duty pay, because they’re risking their own safety and the risk that they’re going to take it home to their families,” attorney Heidi Burakiewicz said, according to WTOP.

Some Congressional Democrats apparently also believed that  hospital and medical workers should receive hazard pay.

The coronavirus relief package that was adopted last week did not have a provision for the health care workers, though Democrats apparently had no problem adding funding for their pet projects in the sweeping stimulus bill.

Trump denounced the special interest projects in response to another viewer question on Fox News, saying the additions made by Democrats in the $2.2 trillion stimulus package included “things that were just totally crazy, and had nothing to do with workers that lost their jobs.”

“We did walk away a couple of times actually but we thought we would literally walk away and start all over again,  they had so much junk in there and it was junk,” he said.

Speaking with Fox Business on Monday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin appeared to agree with Trump’ s remarks about hazard pay.

“I think I agree with the president, I think that makes a lot of sense,” Mnuchin said. “When we get to the next bill in Congress, that’s definitely something we will put in the next bill.”


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