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Tens of thousands of Connecticut residents have applied for new Premium Pay Program

The program offers essential employees who worked through the pandemic payments of up to $1,000.

HARTFORD, Conn. — As of Friday afternoon, 64,000 people in Connecticut have registered for the state's "Premium Pay" program. The program offers essential workers payments of up to $1,000. Though it won't be clear exactly how much people will receive until after the Oct. 1 deadline.

In the midst of uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, essential workers were on the frontlines.

"Our members worked through it all and they didn't have the opportunity to Zoom in their day and they kept us eating and they kept the economy rolling for us and they certainly were heroes," said Marc A. Espinosa, president of UFCW Local 919.

RELATED: Essential Connecticut workers can apply for $1,000 'hero' pay

Among those workers were grocery store employees, thousands of which are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers labor union, who are happy to hear the state will be offering "hero pay" to those employees.

"To get something across was better than nothing and it was a long time coming of course," Espinosa said.

The "Premium Pay" program launched this week.

There are specific requirements people need to meet in order to apply:

  •  Employed as an essential worker in CT from March 10, 2020, and May 7, 2022
  • "Essential Workers" are defined under the following CDC guidelines: Anyone who was in the 1A and 1B category set by the CDC for the initial vaccine rollout. Here is a list of the jobs that make the cut.
  • Not able to work from home
  • Not employed by a federal, state or municipal government agency
  • Earned $149,999 or less

"The program is not first come first serve. The deadline to apply is October 1st so everyone has the same opportunity to apply for the funding," said state comptroller Natalie Braswell.

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There's been $30 million allotted for the program, and payment amounts will be determined depending on how many people are eligible.

But just how significant the demand is, is already evident. Tens of thousands of people applied before the official launch, and the union said just grocery stores alone have that many workers.

RELATED: Millions in COVID funds yet to be distributed to Connecticut workers

"Our understanding is there's probably 30,000 grocery store employees in the state of Connecticut," Espinosa said.

More information on eligibility and the application can be found here.

Gaby Molina is a reporter and anchor at FOX61 News. She can be reached at mmolina@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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