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Attorney General Josh Stein Calls On Congress to Protect COVID-19 First Responders

For Immediate Release:
Thursday, May 21, 2020

Contact:
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today urged Congress to pass S.3607, the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act. The legislation would permit the families of first responders who die or are permanently and totally disabled as a result of COVID-19 to receive the same federal benefits extended to first responders or their survivors who are otherwise killed or injured in the line of duty. Current federal law would only allow survivors access to certain benefits if evidence is provided proving the deceased or permanently disabled first responder contracted COVID-19 while on duty.

“Earlier this month on Peace Officers Memorial Day, North Carolinians honored the 494 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “Every day, and especially during this time of crisis, we ask first responders to head into danger to protect our communities. First responders who are injured or lose their lives serving North Carolina during this pandemic deserve our gratitude and appreciation, as well as every benefit guaranteed to them and their families under the law. I urge Congress to pass this legislation to protect our first responders.”

The SAFR Act would establish a temporary presumption that officers contracted COVID-19 while on duty if diagnosed within 45 days of a first responder’s last shift. The legislation ensures families of officers and first responders lost while fighting the pandemic do not face unnecessary barriers to benefits already promised under existing federal law.

This legislation is sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey. It recently passed the Senate and is currently being considered by the House of Representatives.

Attorney General Stein is joined in sending today’s letter by the Attorneys General of Florida, Washington, D.C., Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

A copy of the letter is available here.

A copy of the legislation is available here.

More on Attorney General Stein’s work to protect North Carolinians during the COVID-19 pandemic:

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