essential workers

Essential Workers Get Access to Funding for Unpaid COVID Expenses

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They worked through the pandemic bagging our groceries, driving our buses, and taking care of our health. Now the state wants to compensate these essential workers or their families for any COVID-related expenses.

The state set aside $34 million for essential workers who contracted or died from COVID-19.

Many of these workers were on the job through the pandemic before anyone was even wearing a mask.

“Health care workers, first responders, grocery store workers, bus drivers, correction employees and many others who contracted COVID-19 on the job through no fault of their own,” Ed Hawthorn, president of the AFL-CIO, says. 

Hawthorn said many essential workers ended up with unpaid medical bills related to COVID.

“For over a year, essential workers were crying out for help while the pandemic raged across our state and our nation,” Hawthorn says. 

He added: “This program will potentially help thousands of essential workers.”

The state will pay for lost wages and unpaid medical expenses related to a COVID-19 infection or death between March 10, 2020 and July 20, 2021.

“The fund has $34 million appropriated by the legislature that will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis,” State Comptroller Natalie Braswell says.  

There is no maximum amount someone will be able to receive, but the burial benefits will be capped at $3,000.

“We’re really looking at the folks who didn’t have these protections or ran through all of their sick time or all of their vacation time and then had to take unpaid time off of work,” Sen. Julie Kushner, D-Danbury, says. 

The fund won’t cover expenses already paid by an employer or insurance company.

"I think it’s understood that there’s no double-dipping here if you were already compensated then in fact you’re not going to get money from this fund," said Kushner.

There are an estimated 200,000 essential workers in the state and the program is first-come, first-serve. To apply you can visit

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