Many Cook County workers eligible for pandemic ‘hero pay’ bonuses
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Many Cook County workers eligible for pandemic ‘hero pay’ bonuses

Some 667,000 Minnesota workers, including many from Cook County, who were on the front lines of the pandemic can file to claim their $750 bonus checks starting next week.

This includes people who logged at least 120 hours in Minnesota in one or more of the specified front-line worker industries between March 15, 2020, and June 30, 2021.

Cabinet commissioners laid out some details as Democratic Gov. Tim Walz held a ceremonial signing ceremony for a $2.7 billion bill passed in May that grants the “hero pay” bonuses, the Associated Press reports.

The Department of Labor and Industry will set up the application system for the frontline worker bonuses.

People eligible for the checks in Cook County and elsewhere around the state include: child care providers, emergency responders, healthcare workers, school employees, retail workers, hotel workers and more.

The experience of other states suggests that nearly all the 667,000 eligible workers will apply for the $750 checks, according to state officials.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Kate Surbaugh, the CEO of Sawtooth Mountain Clinic (SMC), about this topic and other local healthcare news. Audio below.

Other topics covered in the May 31 interview include: The retirement of local physician, Dr. Milan Schmidt, who is retired at the end of May after 45 years in medicine, including 11 years with SMC.

There are also new faces among the staff at SMC, including Kristen Henley, a psychiatric nurse practitioner who sees patients via telehealth two days per week. Also new to the staff is Melissa Brooks, a family practice nurse practitioner who joined SMC in late May. The other new hire is Rachel Theissman. a new graduate pharmacist who recently joined the staff with the pharmacy at SMC.

In more local healthcare news, Surbaugh said during the interview that SMC’s ‘Test to Treat’ program for COVID-19 is still going strong. Surbaugh reminds patients that oral antiviral pills only work within five days of COVID-19 symptom onset – so test early and call SMC if you have a positive test result, Surbaugh said.