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As I See It

Frontline workers not properly protected

Scott Robert Shaw



Wisconsin was one of the last states to pass any legislation related to the Coronavirus crisis. After weeks of putting off even meeting to discuss the pandemic, state lawmakers finally passed a bill that formulates a plan for dispensing federal aid, and waives the one week waiting period for applying for unemployment benefits. But one thing lawmakers didn’t do, which Governor Tony Evers called on them to do, is to make sure that our front line heroes, our police, firefighters and EMTs, can apply for workman’s compensation if they fall ill on the job. Governor Evers’ bill said all essential workers who contract the virus are presumed to become infected while on the job. That provision was stripped from the final bill. As a result, those working to keep us safe would have to prove they contracted the virus on the job, and on what call. That is an unnecessarily high burden of proof. If a firefighter responds to a call of a broken leg, that patient could be infected with Covid-19 and not know they are exposing it to first responders. A patient with a broken leg likely wouldn’t be tested for the virus. How would the fireman know where he was exposed to the virus? These frontline workers should not have to jump through hoops. They should immediately get the worker compensation they deserve. Our lawmakers in Madison should get back to work and correct this unfair legislation.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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