By Steve Karnosky, The Associated Press
Minneapolis (AFP) – Health concern, school and food workers who risked their lives at the height of the pandemic on Wednesday filed for a piece of the $250 million in COVID-19 relief money that Minnesota plans to earmark as rewards for essential frontline workers.
They told their stories of sacrifices when a bipartisan committee of nine state legislators began deciding who should get the money and how much. The hearing outlined the firm decisions the working group faces over the next six weeks to determine which groups potentially numbering hundreds of thousands of workers are worth the most. The more workers get paid, the smaller the payments should be.
Mary Turner, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, told how she and her fellow intensive concern nurses at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale battled with a lack of masks and lengthy hours without days off, often falling seriously ill as they cared for dying patients and tried to protect their families.
“I can’t tell you enough about the risks to my career, the sacrifices they made, and PTSD still following us,” Turner said.
About a third of states have used federal relief assist to reward workers who remain in their jobs amid the risks of the pandemic. An Associated Press review found that people who qualify – and how much they got – vary widely. While some earned thousands of dollars, others with similar jobs elsewhere received nothing. For example, prison guards in Missouri earned an extra $250 per paycheck. In Vermont, nurses, cleaners, retail workers and many more have earned up to $2,000.
Legislative leaders and the democratic governor. Tim Walz formed the working group during final month’s exceptional session. It includes three Cabinet Commissioners selected by Wales, three deputies appointed by Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortmann and three Senators selected by Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelica.
Under its rules, at fewest seven members must vote to approve a specific recommendation to allocate funds. That would require at fewest one Republican vote. If they can’t reach a consensus, they can offer up to three options. They are required to report by September. 6 in the hope that the legislature will pass a plan in a exceptional session in mid-September, which will receive bipartisan support. The $250 million will come from an as-yet unspecified pool of federal assist and government funds.
Several investigators noted that many of the workers who were considered essential during the darkest days of the pandemic were low-income people of color and immigrants who did not have the option of working from home.
Emilio Gonzalez, of Richfield, who has held escort, construction and food production jobs that were essential, said he contracted COVID-19 in November and continues to struggle. Speaking in Spanish through an interpreter, he said he must learn to walk, eat and perform basic functions again, and is not sure if he will be competent to work again.
“Like many of my fellow essential workers, we have done our part with responsibility, courage, and courage, so that those who can work from home are not endangered, so that the young, vulnerable, and elderly Minnesota are not endangered,” Gonzalez said. “However, taking on my role in the production line almost cost me my life. I have survived to realize that I and many others like myself do not have the support that reflects our work and our fundamentals.”
Dan Colgan, an administrator at Redeemer Health and Reification Center in Minneapolis, wore a protective coat, an N95 mask and a plastic confront shield to provide a pictorial visual.
“This is war gear for our healthcare workers,” Colgan testified. He told how his facility received nearly 240 COVID patients from far away locally. He said 22 of them died, including six in one day, while 37 out of 150 employees fell ill. Many workers stayed in hotels to preserve their families safe.
“Why should this bonus be offered to frontline workers?” Asked. “Because they did the work most of our community would never think of.”
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