Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi announced today that nursing staff, security officers, police, paramedics, firefighters, and health technicians will be eligible to receive a payment of $2,000 for their work during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In total, Puerto Rico will receive $2.47 billion "that will be in the hands of the government," Pierluisi stated. These funds were assigned by the federal government under the third round of economic incentives to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, as well as the American Rescue Plan Act, or the 2021 ARPA Act.
Of those funds, $520 million have been allocated for different measures and initiatives. Pierluisi announced that the government will soon begin to distribute those $520 million and continue to guide Puerto Rico towards economic recovery after the impact of COVID-19.
"The government of Puerto Rico is receiving over $2.47 billion to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to guide the economic recovery we need. Today I am announcing the first phase of disbursement of the money that has reached the government of Puerto Rico directly and that will begin in the coming weeks. We will continue working to continue identifying needs and providing the necessary tools to provide real solutions to our people," the governor stated.
For this particular incentive for first responders and health workers, $200 million were identified.
Of these allocated funds, $20 million will be distributed among essential personnel of the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation of Puerto Rico and another $20 million will be distributed among essential personnel of ASEM, the Adult University Hospital, the Pediatric University Hospital, the Cardiovascular Center of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, and the Ramón Ruiz Arnau Hospital in Bayamón.
The governor clarified that in order to be eligible for the $2,000, qualifying personnel must have worked directly with patients or at their place of work; i.e., not remotely.
"This is like a prize. They are our heroes and our heroines and they deserve this special payment. In the future we could add other professionals," he said during a press conference at La Fortaleza.
According to government data, there are roughly 40,000 front-line workers linked to the aforementioned areas. However, not everyone will be eligible since only those who have worked in person will be able to access these funds.