VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — On Tuesday, Virginia Beach City Council voted unanimously to put hazard pay in the pockets of first responders.
The City of Virginia Beach reports that since March, 92 personnel have tested positive for COVID-19. That breaks down to 80 employees, 10 volunteers, and two part-time staff members.
“Our first responders are dealing with an awful lot,” said Vice Mayor James Wood.
Wood is behind the proposal. CARES Act funding is making the one-time payment possible. That goes to police, fire, EMS and the Sheriff’s Office.
First responders will get anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 in hazard pay, depending on rank. Eligible Health and Human Services staff will get $1,500.
“We are at greater risk obviously, because we have greater contact with folks,” said Virginia Beach Benevolent Association President Brian Luciano.
That recognition goes a long way for Luciano, who is also a Master Police Officer for the Virginia Beach Police Department.
“I am currently awaiting the results of my second COVID test because I have had contact with someone, once again, who was positive and that contact came from work,” Luciano said.
He said the last few months have been challenging.
“They could take it home to their spouses and their children without knowing.,” Luciano said.
He said this hazard pay will go a long way.
“It’s a great reminder and a great morale boost that city council will remind first responders that they truly are essential,” Luciano.
The city is also using $60,000 to provide recognition activities for EMS volunteers.
“This pandemic has been difficult on all essential workers,” said President of the Virginia Beach Professional Firefighters Association Max Gonano. “This pandemic has been difficult on all essential workers. The constant exposure and potential for exposure of the virus continues to cause workplace stress as well as the fear of bringing the virus home to families. This is a welcome recognition of those factors and we are appreciative of that.”
The city’s spokesperson said hazard pay could come in a couple of weeks, during the next pay period.
In September, the city council will also vote on a one-time, $1,000 payment to eligible city workers who have continued day-to-day operations for the city, but didn’t qualify for CARES Act funding.