LANSING —Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and a coalition of 52 attorneys general are urging Congress to pass S.3607, the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act (SAFR Act), which would provide federal benefits to first responders who die or are permanently and totally disabled as a result of COVID-19.
“When public safety officers are called to respond, they do not know whether they are coming into contact with a person who is positive for COVID-19,” the letter states. “We have seen harrowing stories about how public safety officers have taken heroic actions to save the lives of others, knowing that they risked infection in doing so.”
The letter was sent to Congress on Thursday, urging the quick passage of the act.
“Our first responders run toward danger without hesitation and risk their lives day in and day out to protect us,” Nessel said in a press release. “COVID-19 has cast a layer of uncertainty, fear and pain for thousands of people in Michigan, but what remains certain is the unwavering commitment of those on the front lines of this crisis.
“This pandemic has forced us to accept the harsh reality that many of our first responders are paying the ultimate sacrifice. The least we can do is ensure that the families of these brave men and women do not face unnecessary barriers to benefits while they grieve the unfathomable loss of their loved ones.”
The 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.
The SAFR Act is sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey).
A copy of the letter can be read here.