By: Mario Conde, Reporter
Frontline workers have worked nonstop since the pandemic started in the United States, that’s why the Imperial County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein urging them to work to ensure that direct financial support for counties and the creation of a “COVID-19 Heroes Fund” is included in the next COVID-19 relief package.
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the County of Imperial has engaged its state and federal advocacy representatives to advocate for direct funding to local governments and other funding relief elements that the County supports in an effort to mitigate the financial impacts the pandemic is having on local government and its constituents.
Since March, Congress has passed five federal coronavirus relief stimulus packages, which four were signed by President Donald Trump and enacted. Yet to be included in any of the bills that were enacted is direct funding for local governments, counties, and cities that have a population less than 500,000.
Also, a priority for the county is the development of a COVID-19 Heroes Fund that would provide hazard pay for front-line essential workers. Several proposals including this component have circulated, yet only one bill, the HEROES Act, included the fund. The HEROES Act, which passed the House of Representatives in mid-May, has not been heard in the Senate since the Senate’s leadership disagrees with several elements of the bill.
“Local first responders, including law enforcement and fire department personnel, as well as local public health workers, individuals who provide essential social services, and other public sector employees who put their health and lives on the line every day to ensure that our constituents have access to public services must be included in the bill’s definition of “essential frontline worker.” County Board Chairman Luis Plancarte stated in the letter.
Although the County sent a letter in April to its congressional delegation expressing in support of a federal stimulus bill that includes hazard pay relief and other priorities, the county wishes to remind its senators of its desire for them to pass another stimulus package that includes their priorities when the Senate and House return from recess later this month.