New York City is pressing the state to approve line-of-duty death benefits for the survivors of municipal employees who died while responding to the Covid-19 outbreak, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.
"We'll work with all of our partners in Albany to get this done," de Blasio said at a press briefing. "We'll work the City Council. We need to take this weight off the shoulders of the families of these valiant New Yorkers."
More than 270 public servants have lost their lives to Covid-19, de Blasio said. Line-of-duty death benefits would provide the families of police, transit and other deceased city workers with a portion of their wages after their death.
The city has already extended health insurance for an additional 45 days to the families of city employees who died from the coronavirus, he said.
When asked why he is asking the state to expand line-of-duty death benefits rather than using an emergency order to release funds from the city's budget, he said approval from the state legislature will have a lasting impact for families.
"If we sense there's going to be a meaningful delay there, and there's other things we can do, then of course I'll look for every way to help these families," he said. "I think this is something that will get real immediate attention from our colleagues at the state level."
In April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he's been working with the state's congressional delegation to create a compensation fund for health-care and other front-line workers who contracted Covid-19.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress proposed the Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act on Thursday, which was modeled after the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The pandemic fund would provide compensation to any essential worker, or their families, who became ill or died from Covid-19.
Three of the bill's co-sponsors, Democrats Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Republican Peter King, represent congressional districts in the New York City area.
The coronavirus has killed more than 15,900 in the city, compared with more than 2,600 killed at or near the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.