Treasury secretary says first responders could receive COVID-19 hazard pay

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said a fourth stimulus package could include hazard pay for those on the front lines of the crisis


The potential for first responder hazard pay as a result of the COVID-19 national health emergency has generated hundreds of responses on social media and emails to editor@ems1.com, with EMS personnel strongly divided. Many say the pay isn’t necessary, arguing, “we knew what we signed up for when we climbed onto the rig,” while others note the extraordinary circumstances, contending, “while the job of paramedics and first responders has its inherent risks, the COVID-19 pandemic is outside the scope of everyday risks.”

We compiled several responses here as well as a Roundtable of responses from the EMS1 Editorial Advisory Board, and will share additional news and analysis as the situation evolves. Several local governments have implemented hazard pay and stipends for first responders and other front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Find an ongoing list here.

By Laura French

WASHINGTON — U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that hazard pay for first responders could be included in future legislation to address the COVID-19 national health emergency.

Mnuchin told CNN Monday that his department has not yet begun work on a fourth stimulus package, as it works to implement the third package passed by the Senate last week, but that hazard pay for first responders and healthcare workers is “definitely something we will put in the next bill.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks about COVID-19 on March 25, 2020, in Washington. Mnuchin said hazard pay for first responders and healthcare workers could be included in future stimulus legislation. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks about COVID-19 on March 25, 2020, in Washington. Mnuchin said hazard pay for first responders and healthcare workers could be included in future stimulus legislation. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Mnuchin said he agreed with President Donald Trump when he said on “Fox and Friends” Monday morning that his administration was looking into including hazard pay for healthcare workers, some of whom don’t qualify for the checks included in the previous package, according to CNN.

The $2 trillion legislation signed by Trump on Friday includes several provisions with implications for fire and EMS departments, including $45 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund, $16 billion to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile of PPE and medications, and $100 million for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program.

The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) said in an open letter last week that the package does not provide enough support for EMS agencies and providers, demanding direct funding to departments and immediate protections for personnel, including priority access to testing and reimbursements for childcare.

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