BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger on Thursday announced legislation that would provide “hero” pay to frontline medical workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The legislation would provide an additional $225 per month to doctors, nurses, specialists and other non-medical staff like custodians who work in federally-designated COVID-19 hotspots. Ruppersberger pointed out that sum is the same that troops in combat zones receive.
“Today, we put our money where our mouth is,” Ruppersberger said.
- Coronavirus Resources: How To Get Help In Maryland
- TIMELINE: Coronavirus In Maryland, Tracking The Spread
- Latest coronavirus stories from WJZ
- Latest CDC Guidelines
Hospital systems would be able to apply for funds on behalf of employees that would be retroactive to March for those in coronavirus hotspots.
The legislation, officially called the Jay Costa Honoring Essential Americans Risking Their Safety (HEARTS) Act, is named after Dr. Joseph Costa, the chief of Mercy Medical Center’s Critical Care Division, who himself died from COVID-19 after treating infected patients for months.
“Joe dedicated his life and career to caring for the sickest patients right here in Baltimore,” Mercy Medical Center President and CEO Dr. David Maine said.
Maine said Costa’s death shook Mercy’s staff to their core.
Costa’s husband David Hart said it was an extraordinary honor to have the legislation named after his late husband. He also thanked the healthcare workers who risked contracting COVID-19 themselves to care for him.
“I’d like to thank all the heroes who worked so diligently to save my husband’s life, and while that did not happen, it was not in vain,” he said.