Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law Wednesday that will provide disability benefits to first responders who contracted COVID-19 before vaccines were available.
House Bill (HB) 3162, known as the Act-of-Duty Bill, previously only provided disability pay for various physical and mental conditions, including heart attacks. Specifically, the law provides benefits for those who contracted COVID-19 between March 9, 2020 and June 30, 2021. Those who fall under the law’s criteria qualify for 75 percent of their regular salary while disabled.
Pritzker said of the law:
Since the darkest days of the pandemic, our first responders — police officers, firefighters, and EMS workers alike — have been on the ground, putting their own health and safety at risk to protect others. When our first responders are disabled on the job, they deserve comprehensive benefits. HB 3162 ensures they get the benefits they are entitled to.
Medical professionals have been recognizing the disability of long COVID, which can vary among individuals. For some, symptoms can continue for days, months, or even years. The bill targets those who contracted COVID-19 before the vaccine was widely available because research shows those who are vaccinated against COVID-19 have a decreased risk of developing long COVID.