MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Legislature will reconvene Tuesday to pass a bill that would ensure first responders and health care workers who are infected with the coronavirus qualify for workers compensation without having to prove they were sickened on the job.
Minnesota’s count of confirmed cases rose to 986 on Monday, up 51 from Sunday. The number of deaths attributed to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, rose by one to 30. Of the positive cases, 470 no longer need to be isolated. As of Monday, 115 patients were hospitalized, up 11 from Sunday, with 57 in intensive care, up nine from a day earlier.
Legislative leaders announced the agreement on workers compensation late Sunday night. The new rules will protect a wide range of emergency and health care workers, including police officers, firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, correctional officers, nurses, home health care workers, and people who provide child care for the offspring of first responders and health care workers.
“We hope it’s not needed, but it is vitally important for these heroes on the front lines to know that this policy is in place to help protect their health and safety during this difficult and uncertain time,” Republican Senate President Jeremy Miller, who helped broker the agreement, said in a statement.
The House will convene at noon Tuesday while the Senate will meet at 2 p.m. to pass the bill, using some of the same social distancing rules they used when they met March 26 to pass a $330 million COVID-19 relief package.
Lawmakers were unable to reach agreement on the workers compensation issue in time to pass it then. Some objected because the changes had not been vetted and agreed on by an official business-labor council that reviews changes to workers comp laws. Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka tweeted last week that council members were “working around the clock to come to a resolution.”
Democratic Gov. Tim Walz heralded the legislation.
“I’m proud of the tireless, bipartisan collaboration between the legislature, business and labor that went into getting this to the finish line,” Walz tweeted Monday. “Our front-line employees are fighting nonstop to keep Minnesotans safe — if they get sick on the job, we need to be there for them.”
The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
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