Scott details hazard pay plan for Vt. essential workers

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 4:53 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2020 at 5:30 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Some $28 million in hazard pay is on the way for thousands of essential front-line health care workers in Vermont. Our Calvin Cutler has more on who's eligible.

Nearly five months after COVID-19 made it to Vermont, the state is rolling out a hazard pay program.

"Vermonters recognize the incredible sacrifice of these workers who stepped up in a time of crisis to serve and protect their fellow Vermonters, putting their own health at risk," said Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont.

The program is first come, first serve and you have to make less than $25 an hour. Recipients can get $1,200 or $2,000 depending on how much they worked from mid-March to mid-May.

"Everyone has been very appreciative for what we've been doing to keep their loved ones safe," Dawn Stevens said.

For Stevens and her staff at Westview Meadows and the Gary Residence in Montpelier, the pandemic has been a roller coaster.

She says she and her staff are forced to change their lifestyle from who they see and where they go to protect their vulnerable residents.

"The majority of the staff have had to change their personal lives knowing where they work, but they take it with a great sense of pride," Stevens said.

But there are still thousands of Vermonters on the front lines behind cash registers at grocery stores, gas stations and restaraunts. And there are still thousands in the unemployment line.

Governor Scott says the original proposal included benefits for these workers but federal guidelines prevented giving federal money to them.

"We're thankful for them going to work every day in those conditions. They were on the front lines as well in the grocery stores and otherwise, and we see that," Scott said.

The program opened at 9 a.m. and by 9:15 a.m., 130 people had already applied.

The governor advised businesses to apply for hazard pay ASAP as this is a first-come, first-served grant program. You can apply on the Vt. Agency of Human Services website.

To qualify, people must work in public health, human services or public safety. Examples of people who qualify are workers at assisted-living facilities or nursing homes, doctors or dentist offices, some therapists, first responders, home health workers and those who work in homeless shelters, health centers, some treatment programs and morgues.

Covered employers eligible to apply on behalf of their employees are defined by Act 136 to include those who work at/as:

  • Ambulance service or first responder service as defined in 24 V.S.A. § 2651
  • Assisted living residence as defined in 33 V.S.A. § 7102
  • Dentist’s office or a dental facility
  • Federally qualified health center, rural health clinic, or clinic for the uninsured
  • Health care facility as defined in 18 V.S.A. § 9432 or a physician’s office
  • Home health agency as defined in 33 V.S.A. § 6302
  • Homeless shelter
  • Morgue
  • Nursing home residence as defined in 33 V.S.A. § 7102
  • Provider of necessities and services to vulnerable or disadvantaged populations
  • Residential care home as defined in 33 V.S.A. § 7102
  • Residential treatment program licensed by the Department for Children and Families
  • Therapeutic community residence as defined in 33 V.S.A. § 7102
  • Therapy provider contracted by a home health agency or nursing home

VERMONT COVID BY THE NUMBERS

We also got an update on the numbers in Vermont. No big changes there. Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine says we have 1,427 cases. One person is hospitalized. We still stand at 57 deaths.

We learned that within two weeks, 100,000 people will have been tested in Vermont.

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