(CNN)During the coronavirus pandemic, essential workers have been putting their lives at risk to keep our hospitals, grocery stores and public transportation running. So Pennsylvania is providing a bit of help to help them through these difficult times.
Pennsylvania's governor is granting hazard pay to workers in hospitals, grocery stores and other essential jobs
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced last week that $50 million of the state's federal CARES funding would be put toward providing hazard pay for essential workers.
"In the fight against COVID-19, our front-line workers have put themselves at risk every day in order to continue to provide life-sustaining services to their fellow Pennsylvanians, and this funding will increase their pay in recognition of those sacrifices," Wolf said in a statement.
"These grants will help businesses retain employees, ensure that Pennsylvanians keep working and avoid disruption of critical goods and services," he added.
Full-time and part-time employees earning less than $20 an hour will be able to receive up to $1,200 in hazard pay. Eligible sectors include healthcare, social assistance, food manufacturing, food retail, public transportation, security and janitorial services.
The hazard pay will be provided through employers, who have until the end of July to apply.
Millions of unemployed Americans have been receiving $600 a week in unemployment benefits through a federal relief program that is set to expire this month. But there has yet to be a federal program in place to provide essential workers with hazard pay, despite coronavirus cases continuing to surge in the US.
The country beat its own daily record of new coronavirus cases at least nine times in a month.
In April, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said hazard pay for frontline workers should be included in the federal stimulus plan for businesses. He pointed to the fact that 41% of frontline workers are people of color and said that the infection rate among African Americans and brown people is higher because they're a large part of the essential workforce.
"When you are home with your doors locked dealing with cabin fever, they were out there dealing with the coronavirus. That's why they are more infected. Pay them what they deserve. I would say hazard pay, give them a 50% bonus," Cuomo said at the time.
In May, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah proposed "Patriot Pay," a temporary bonus of up to $12 per hour for essential workers who are at greater risk of contracting Covid-19.