Burns urges new round of hazard pay grants

Exclusion of EMS, pharmacy techs and other front-line workers ‘inexcusable’

EBENSBURG, Aug. 28 – Concerned that it creates an unfair situation that arbitrarily rewards some workers but not others, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, is urging the state to revisit the recently concluded hazard pay grant program, which unfairly excluded thousands of essential workers.

“The state created this program to provide hazard pay for ‘essential workers,’ but then excluded thousands of front-line workers who daily risk their own health for the rest of us,” Burns said. “It is inexcusable to say that first responders and pharmacy workers don’t deserve the same gratitude as other workers. This also sends a terrible message to our frontline heroes, at a time when we can ill afford further division and strife.”

In a letter to Dennis Davin, secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, Burns and the Northwest Democratic Caucus, which he chairs, urged the administration to fund a new round of grants and include those workers who were initially excluded. The letter specifically notes that police, fire, EMS and pharmacy workers should have been included from the start.

“This is about doing the right thing, and I urge the administration to swiftly take steps to fix this,” Burns said. “Once again, a good dose of commonsense would go a long way as we continue to address the pandemic in our commonwealth.”