PHOENIX - Attorney General Brnovich is joining a bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general urging Congress to pass S.3607, the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act. The Act would permit the families of first responders, who die or are permanently and totally disabled as a result of COVID-19, to receive the same federal benefits extended to first responders, or their survivors, otherwise killed or injured in the line of duty. Current federal law would only allow survivors access to certain benefits if evidence is provided proving the deceased or permanently disabled first responder contracted COVID-19 while on duty.
In a letter sent to Congress today, Attorney General Brnovich and 51 other state attorneys general urged quick passage of the SAFR Act. The letter states, in part, “When public safety officers are called to respond, they do not know whether they are coming into contact with a person who is positive for COVID-19. We have seen harrowing stories about how public safety officers have taken heroic actions to save the lives of others, knowing that they risked infection in doing so.”
"Our first responders put their lives on the line every day, and their sacrifice is only heightened during a crisis like COVID-19," said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. "We should all work together to remove unnecessary barriers and uncertainty for our first responders and their families if they are faced with a sudden COVID-19 illness or death."
The SAFR Act would establish a temporary presumption for first responders who contracted COVID-19 while on duty if diagnosed within 45 days of a first responder’s last shift. The legislation ensures families of officers and first responders lost while fighting the pandemic do not face unnecessary barriers to benefits already promised under existing federal law.
This legislation is sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. It recently passed the United States Senate and is currently being considered by the House of Representatives.
Additionally, Attorney General Brnovich recently transmitted letters to the Governor, President of the Arizona Senate, and Speaker of the Arizona House urging temporary protections be adopted in Arizona that would create a temporary presumption in state law to ensure first responders who contract COVID-19 be covered by workers' compensation.