Thousands of Va. home health care workers to receive hazard pay for pandemic work


RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — $73 million of federal coronavirus relief funding will go to Virginia home health care workers who served at-risk communities during the early months of the pandemic.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that home health care workers who provided personal care and served Medicaid members between March 12 and June 30 will receive a one-time pre-tax payment of $1,500 via the CARES Act. About 43,500 workers will receive the payments.

These workers allow seniors and disabled Virginians to stay in their homes, performing tasks such as a feeding and dressing. Many are women, particularly women of color.

“Home health care workers are often unseen, unsung, and underpaid, but they do the vital work of caring for vulnerable Virginians,” Northam said. “Their jobs put them at higher risk during this pandemic, and this hazard payment is a way we can acknowledge that they put themselves in harm’s way to help others. I want to thank our home health care workers for the work they do every day to keep people healthy.”

Northam says the state budget that went into effect on July 1 also included a 7 percent pay raise for home health care workers over two years. The Department of Medical Assistance Services, which runs the Medicaid program in Virginia, is also working to provide personal protective equipment.

“The majority of home health care workers are women, and women of color, providing critical health services for low pay,” said State Senator Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), Chairwoman of the Senate Education and Health Committee. “This hazard payment acknowledges the essential work that they do and the risks they took especially in the early months of the pandemic, when less was known about this virus. It is one way we can show appreciation to the people who do such important work.”

While Virginia has worked to provide protective gear and other needs to health care workers, the virus continues to affect seniors and the general population. There are several outbreaks at nursing homes throughout the commonwealth and cases are rising overall statewide. 3,388 people have died from COVID-19 in the commonwealth, and more than 3,000 were those aged 60 or above.

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