Shawna De La Rosa | November 9, 2020

Governor Ralph Northam recently approved a $ 73 million CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Recovery and Economic Security) fund to provide hazard payments to home care workers serving high-risk populations at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Domestic workers are often invisible, unsung and underpaid, but they do the vital work of caring for vulnerable Virginians,” Northam said in a statement. “Their work puts them at greater risk during this pandemic, and with that risk payment we can acknowledge that they are putting themselves at risk to help others. I want to thank our home health workers for their daily work to ensure people’s health. “

Compensation is awarded as a one-time pre-tax payment of $ 1,500 to 43,500 home health workers who provided personal care and cared for Medicaid members between March 12 and June 30.

In addition to the hazard payments, the national budget, which came into force on July 1, includes a 7 percent increase over two years for home health workers. The Emergency Medical Services Division (DMAS) is working to make personal protective equipment available to these workers, including masks, gloves and hand sanitizer.

“The majority of home health workers are women and skin color women who provide critical health services for low wages,” Senator Louise Lucas, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Education and Health, said in a statement. “This hazard payment recognizes the essential work they are doing and the risks they took, especially in the early months of the pandemic, when less was known about this virus. In this way we can show appreciation to the people who do such important work. “

Del. Mark Sickles, chairman of the House Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions, calls these workers the “unsung heroes” even in the best of times.

“This risk payment is a way to show these workers that we value them and the essential work they do,” he said in a statement.

David Broder, President of the Service Employees International Union Virginia 512, praised the decision, especially since the majority of this workforce consists of black and brown women.

“Home care workers … are instrumental in helping older adults and people with disabilities lead healthy and active lives, safe at home and in the community,” he said in a statement. “That was especially important earlier this year when nursing homes were facing outbreaks. This risk payment recognizes their essential work. It’s an important investment that supports families and keeps the overall cost of our healthcare system down. “