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Bill to cover SC first responders under workers’ comp gets new life

Updated: Dec. 19, 2020 at 12:02 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina Lawmakers are renewing an effort to help cover firefighters who get sick from the coronavirus.

Rep. Russell Fry prefilled SC House Bill 3192, after an earlier version of the bill did not make it to a vote during this legislative session. Firefighter advocates say it was due to a shortened legislative session.

The bill which has garnered a lot of bipartisan support, would make a presumption in the law that health care workers and first responders who get the coronavirus, got it from work. They would be eligible to get resources through workers’ comp.

The Professional Firefighter Association of South Carolina has been pushing for this type of coverage since the pandemic started. Bill Pesature, the vice president of the organization, says first responders have been greatly impacted by the pandemic.

“[Firefighters] are being slammed with this because they’re affected and they have to quarantine and the crews have to quarantine because they are all together,” Pesature said. “I think it’s a bigger issue now than it was before.”

David Diaz, a retired firefighter who is now part of the Lowcountry Firefighter Support Team, says the bill should be used as an extra tool for firefighters who need it.

“If you can be covered under the CARES Act and it can be adjusted, I think that would be better coverage,” Diaz said. “But I’m always for if somebody is hurt and they need it, it should be covered under worker’s comp, especially if it comes from the job.”

The General Assembly will meet on Jan. 12.

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