States Must Implement An Effective But Compassionate Coronavirus Response
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Sponsor: The Hunger Site
No one should be forced to choose between work and health, yet quarantined Americans risk losing their incomes.
States must immediately implement policies that will keep vulnerable Americans safe and make sure no one is forced to choose between work and health. Ask Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States and head of the federal government's COVID-19 response, to demand a serious and compassionate state response.
COVID-19 illness is a serious threat to all Americans, with the elderly and those with serious chronic medical conditions at the greatest risk1. Responses to the spread of this disease vary by state, with those least affected simply recommending avoiding human contact, while others have gone so far as to call in the National Guard to enforce containment2. In states with stronger restrictions in place, Americans are being kept from work and denied unemployment benefits, effectively cutting off their income while they are under quarantine.
There are currently no federal laws requiring companies to provide paid sick leave, or paid time off to care for family members who have taken ill. With fewer benefits, low-wage and part-time workers may face termination if they require time off, else assist in the spread of COVID-19 in exchange for an income3.
Governor Gina M. Raimondo, in declaring a State of Emergency in Rhode Island, has earmarked additional resources to provide a safety net for those under quarantine, and missing work.4
- No waiting period for regular unemployment insurance claims and claims filed for short-term compensation.
- No minimum out-of-work time requirement for benefits.
- No medical certification requirement for individuals under quarantine.
COVID-19 is still spreading. More than 1,000 confirmed cases have already been reported in the United States, and the number is growing5. There is no reliable prediction for how many the disease will effect, but it's clear that the most reliable way to avoid the disease is by staying away from other potential carriers.
It is unfortunate that someone would be forced out of a job for staying home from work when the alternative is accelerating the spread of COVID-19. According to lawyer, political commentator, and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, "Too many people are heading to work sick because they can’t afford to miss a paycheck6."
With policies like those implemented in Rhode Island, that doesn't have to be the case. These policies, implemented by other states, will extend vulnerable individuals a lifeline when they need it most.
Sign the petition and help Americans in every state survive the COVID-19 epidemic without having to choose between an income and their health.
- "People at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, March 10, 2020
- "Coronavirus in US: New York sending in National Guard to control COVID-19 cases." Marina Villeneuve & Olga R. Rodriguez, The Associated Press, March 10, 2020
- "Fragile Safety Net Leaves U.S. Economy Vulnerable to Coronavirus Hit." Jonnelle Marte and Heather Timmons, Reuters, March 4, 2020
- "Raimondo declares state of emergency in response to COVID-19." The Independent, March 10, 2020
- "Coronavirus updates live: U.S. cases top 1,000 as spread slows in China." Live Blog, NBC News, March 11, 2020
- "Andrew Yang Says the Coronavirus Outbreak Shows Why We Need Basic Income." Andrew Yang, Inverse, March 11, 2020
To Vice President Mike Pence,
The COVID-19 outbreak is worsening in the United States, and wildly varying state responses to the epidemic are forcing some Americans to choose between their health and a paycheck.
Individuals in low wage or part-time jobs face losing their income when following the recommended quarantine policies for COVID-19 infection. In the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, the most vulnerable to this illness, losing a job is tantamount to cutting off an essential lifeline.
New policies implemented in Rhode Island and other states serve to promote healthy practices without the worry of losing income by:
- Waiving the waiting period for regular unemployment insurance claims and claims filed for short-term compensation.
- Waiving the minimum out-of-work time requirement for benefits.
- Waiving the medical certification requirement for individuals under quarantine.
These policies can re-establish a safety net for American citizens throughout the rest of the US during a trying time. The lives and livelihoods of these Americans are at stake, both during and after the COVID-19 epidemic passes. I implore you to take action now.