Excerpts from nbcchicago.com:

After hearing emotional testimony from Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, an Illinois House committee unanimously approved legislation Thursday that would grant Chicago police officers and firefighters full benefits if they become disabled from COVID-19.

Mendoza’s brother, a Chicago police detective who lost his kidneys due to a coronavirus infection in late 2020, was denied duty disability benefits that would have provided him with 75% of his salary and provided free health care. Instead, he was granted only ordinary benefits, which paid him 50% of his salary and no health insurance.

The City of Chicago Police Pension Board decided that Sgt. Joaquin Mendoza didn’t prove he’d gotten the disease through a particular act of duty though the board’s own doctor said he likely was infected on the job. In February 2022, the pension board voted 4-3 to deny the sergeant a duty disability pension.

According to his attorneys, the board later also rejected a duty disability pension for another officer whose lungs were damaged by the coronavirus — and least 18 other officers have similar requests pending.

Mendoza’s former boss who was an Area 5 detectives commander, had testified before the pension board that the sergeant contracted the virus on the job and deserved a duty disability. Additionally, a former chief of detectives who was a member of the police pension board during Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration, claims that he heard from sources that “the order came down from City Hall that no one is to get a duty disability for COVID.”

The House committee voted 9-0 in favor of the measure, which goes now to the full House.

Under previous legislation, cops and firefighters who die because of COVID are presumed to have contracted the illness as a result of an act of duty, entitling them to full benefits. But that law didn’t extend to those who survive the disease.