HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW)- Steps to prioritize coronavirus testing for first responders are in place, but now one local lawmakers wants to make sure they have financial protection if they test positive.
Representative Russell Fry is working to push through legislation that will give workers compensation to those on the frontlines of coronavirus.
In South Carolina, workers compensation covers work related injuries, but to get it you must prove you sustained the injury at work. To prove where you contracted coronavirus can be tough for first responders and health care workers.
“If they are to get coronavirus, it is likely because they were on the front lines doing their job. Other states are doing this through executive order or through administrative actions, and we’re hoping to do the same in South Carolina,” said Rep. Fry.
The South Carolina Fraternal Order of Police is also pushing for the measure by sending a letter asking Governor McMaster to issue an executive order.
“We’re coming in contact with people who may test positive or may be carriers and we will have a clue who that person was,” said Terry Gainey, President of South Carolina Fraternal Order of Police.
Fry is working with the governor’s office to try to pass this measure administratively, and if legally that can’t be done it will be pushed through as a bill.
If passed, workers compensation would be given to healthcare workers, first responders, and correctional officers as soon as they have to isolate.
Tidelands Health said two healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19. Other area hospitals either have no positive cases or said they can’t release that information.
“I think the United States as a whole have never truly believed that we would deal with a pandemic such as this because that’s usually for unprepared or third world countries, or we’ve always felt like we were better prepared than I guess we actually were,” said Gainey.
Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue said they’ve attended to 38 positive cases, but at this point none of their first responders have tested positive.
“These people are on the front lines every single day being exposed to this, and it’s just really important for us to make sure that we put our best foot forward for them,” said Rep. Fry.
Horry County Police and Horry County Sheriff’s Office said they do not have any officers or staff who are positive for COVID-19.
Myrtle Beach Police and Horry County Fire Rescue said that is information they will not release that information.