Georgia shows appreciation for first responders with bonus

Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 11:33 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Interrupted learning, unemployment, slow business and lost loved ones. The pandemic is taking its toll on everyone. And at the center of it all is first responders.

On Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp announced a bonus to help first responders and public safety workers across Georgia.

Georgia will use money from the American Rescue Plan to fund this $1,000 bonus. Kemp says this applies to all eligible public safety officers in Georgia. That includes firefighters, paramedics and EMTs, 911 dispatchers and law enforcement officers.

Grovetown Mayor Gary Jones is a 37-year law enforcement veteran. He currently serves as a major in the Waynesboro Police Department. Last spring early in the pandemic, he tested positive for COVID. At one point, he was hospitalized.

“It was like a severe flu, and then at one point it was pretty hard to even breathe, which is what prompted me to get X-rays and determine I had double pneumonia,” he said.

Jones recovered but he’s seen other officers in his department test positive, too.

“It affected the city of Waynesboro Police Department, but it’s also affected us here in the city of Grovetown, where I serve as the mayor, we’ve had officers out with COVID,” he said.

“Our law enforcement officials and first responders have been thrown challenge after challenge in the last year and a half,” said Kemp.

Kemp says the $1,000 bonus will be a good way to show appreciation for public safety. Jones says Grovetown will apply for it.

“I think that will certainly help some of the officers out who may be going through some tough times as a result of the finances and so forth with COVID,” said Jones.

Employers must apply for the bonus before employees can receive it. The application process opens Friday and continues through the end of the year. Details about when the bonus will be sent out have not been released yet.

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