Hundreds of thousands of first responders, medical workers, meatpackers and grocery clerks in Minnesota are in line for a $750 bonus check for remaining on the job as thepandemic raged.
Gov. Tim Walz on Friday signed into law a bill that allocates a total of $500 million to cover the one-time payments for an estimated 667,000 frontline workers, who state officials said can expect checks in 10 to 12 weeks. It also provides $2.7 billion to replenish Minnesota's unemployment trust fund.
The bonus payments follow months of debate, with the additional "hero pay" checks first proposed in Minnesota last July.
"That equals a month's rent. That equals groceries. That's money that can be put back into their savings accounts. So it is important, and I do thank you over and over again for coming together with this," said Mary Turner, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, according to CBS Minnesota.
To be eligible for the payments, employees need to have worked 120 hours between March 15, 2020, and June 30, 2021, and not have received unemployment benefits for more than 20 weeks, according to the state's website. Individuals who made more than $85,000 a year and did not work directly with COVID-19 patients are not eligible. Those who worked with COVID-19 patients can get a check if they made $175,000 a year or less.
Around the U.S., A number of companies temporarily offered additional "hazard pay" to workers during the pandemic, while some grocery companieson the West Coast mandated it for supermarket workers.
Nearly 1 million Americans have died of COVID-19, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.