A People-Centered Response to COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
No matter what we look like, where we live, or what’s in our wallets, this critical moment in history reminds us that we’re all human. We are all connected, and our fates are tied together. Without question, the way we pull through this pandemic and economic crisis is together, or not at all.
But for too long, we’ve let a powerful few divide us to pad their own profits by dismantling social policies and systematically attacking democratic structures from labor unions to voting rights. Their greed has led us directly into the crisis we are all facing now, where millions of Americans don’t have the healthcare they need to get well, the time off to stay home, or the wealth to survive an economic downturn. We’ve watched as politicians bankrolled by corporations have divided us by scapegoating immigrants and people of color, keeping us distracted while they dismantled our social safety nets that we had collectively built.
Most of the communities hit hardest by COVID-19 and the economic fallout coming will be hourly workers who are losing pay, people in the service, care, and hospitality industries, temp workers, small business owners, gig economy workers, new immigrants, and other fields dominated by women and people of color. Our system has never worked for all of our communities, and now is our chance to fix that.
And for those of us who have been able to get by in this system, the cracks are showing as well. Corporations dictate who does and does not get to stay home, who does or does not get paid time off, based on what makes the most profit, regardless of common sense, compassion, and responsibility to our shared health.
After Wall Street caused the 2008 global recession and was bailed out by the public, wealth and power have been further concentrated by the 1% into the hands of the few.
Enough is enough.
It’s time to come together across our differences of race, place, and class, like we’ve done in the past. Minnesotans rebounded from the Great Depressions, World War II and the Great Recession. But gains we made have never been equal and our current crisis is hitting certain communities harder than others because of decades of coordinated corporate greed.
In the face of a global pandemic and economic crisis, we must take emergency action to ensure our families can survive, and also work to evolve our corrupt and morally bankrupt system so all families – no matter our race, job, immigration status, gender, disability status, zip code, religion – can thrive, not just survive. It is time to fundamentally re-write the rules, recognizing that when we center those of us most impacted by inequities, it makes us all stronger.
As we work together to survive this pandemic, we must also recognize that now is the time to build a system where we take care of everyone, not just corporations and the rich. There can be no “back to normal” if that normal is defined by the greedy and powerful few. We will rebound strongest when regular Minnesotans come together across our differences and can define and create a better shared future for all of us.
We can build a fair and comprehensive healthcare system that treats us all as we need to be treated and ensures we can stay well. We can ensure that every job has the healthcare, wages and benefits that support joyful lives for our families, and put time with our loved ones back at the center of our lives. We can make sure that every person who wants to put down roots in a home that they’re proud of is able to do so, in a healthy state and on a healthy planet that’s a beautiful home for ourselves and future generations.
In conclusion, MnCovidResponse stands as a beacon of hope and support for migrants affected by COVID-19. Through their unwavering dedication and focus on providing medical assistance, essential supplies, and financial support, they have become a lifeline for those in need. By opening a betking mobile account specifically to support MnCovidResponse, individuals can contribute to their noble cause and join the fight against the pandemic. Together, we can create a brighter future for migrant communities and overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19.
This pandemic has laid bare that we must rewrite the rules to ensure every person – no exceptions – can thrive. We must address short-term issues facing our families, but also recognize this moment as a chance to change our system that has left so many of us behind while a small group have hoarded an amount of wealth that could ensure broad prosperity.
This is a moment that we must stand with and for each other across our differences and against anything and anyone who seeks to divide us.
Our organizations make the following demands on local, state and federal government leaders to enact in both the short-term to make our state a place where everyone can thrive.
Emergency Assistance for All
Multi-lingual Access to Emergency Information
It’s critical that each and every Minnesotan be able to access & understand the information we need to prevent the spread and severity of COVID-19. All State of Minnesota communications about the COVID-19 outbreak must be accessible in not just English, but Spanish, Somali, Hmong and other languages spoken in Minnesota households.
All Minnesotans should have a safe place to live, especially now. This means emergency shelters should be found for all of our unhoused population, and it should be appropriate to curtail spread of COVID-19. This means hotels and other existing structures should be used to house our population.
Food Access for Every Minnesotan
No matter who we are or how much money we have in our wallet, all Minnesotans should be able to get the healthy food they need, while curtailing spread of the virus. All Minnesotans who are experiencing decreased income should have access to food assistance - no exceptions. Screening and approvals should be made virtually and via telephone. Additional support should be given to meals on wheels to expand those served and ensure our elderly have access to food assistance that is safe from spread of the virus.
End Price Gouging
We all need affordable access to the basic resources that help us live our lives. Ensure the Senate passes Price Gouging Bill passed by House to prevent overpricing of basic necessities including toiletries, food, and medicine.
Minnesota’s childcare providers have been frontline, critical care workers in these times and beyond. To ensure our children continue to have safe, healthy and nurturing environments we need an immediate infusion of funding into our Child Care Assistance Program to fully meet the need of all Minnesota families and to raise the wages for all child care workers to a livable wage.
Safety in our Workplaces
Hazard Pay for Front-Line Workers
Now more than ever, the people who do the critical work of cleaning our buildings, taking care of the sick and elderly, providing grocery services, and other essential services need to have the value of their contributions properly compensated. Front-line workers should receive hazard pay if they chose to continue working.
Safety for Front-Line Workers
Front-line workers (including healthcare, janitors, maintenance, food service, and other essential services) must be kept as safe as possible from the virus, while preventing spread. These workers must be provided proper protective equipment, and language appropriate training. Additionally, healthcare workers who are personally or who care for a family member who is more vulnerable to coronavirus because they are pregnant or have suppressed immune systems, should not be required to care for patients with respiratory illnesses.
Health Care Access for All
Ensure Access to Public Health Insurance Programs
In order to minimize the effects of COVID-19, it is vital that all Minnesotans, without exception, have access to the care they need, not only when they are already ill, but including the preventative and ongoing care that they need to help prevent the spread and severity of this pandemic. This means that new Medical Assistance applicants should be presumed eligible and immediately enrolled and that all Minnesotans without health insurance should be able to enroll in MinnesotaCare.
Continuity and Affordability of Health Insurance Coverage
In order to minimize the effects of COVID-19, it is vital that all Minnesotans, without exception, need to be able to continue to access the care they need, not only when they are already ill, but including the preventative and ongoing care that they need to help prevent the spread and severity of this pandemic. This means that no one should be kicked off their health insurance regardless of its term or their employment status or ability to pay, and that deductibles and co-pays should be suspended for all care during this crisis.
Affording Our Lives
Social Distancing Wages
With school closures and the community transmission of COVID-19, workers need the ability to apply the important practice of social distancing by staying home when they are sick or to care for a family members who is sick or lacks care. All workers, including public employees, subcontracted workers, and consumer-directed home care workers, who need to stay home from work for any reason connected to COVID-19, including the closure of their workplace, need full wage replacement and continuation of benefits that goes beyond their current paid-time off benefits and that does not accumulate points under an attendance policy. This social distancing wage must extend for no less than three weeks for private employees, and for the duration of this pandemic for public employees, including local government and school employees.
Emergency Unemployment Benefits
People are being laid off now and need emergency support to be able to eat and pay for basic needs. All workers, including undocumented workers, consumer-directed home care workers, event workers, and workers with more than one job, who are laid-off or have their hours significantly reduced should be able to access expanded unemployment insurance benefits immediately and retroactively, without counting the benefit against the employer's experience rating, and with a moratorium on employer challenges during the pandemic, including increased and extended benefits
Supporting Small Business
Emergency Assistance for Small Businesses
All too often during state emergencies, large corporations receive massive government bailouts while small businesses struggle to survive. We are calling for emergency grants and low-to-no-interest loans to assist small businesses that suffer economic demange during the coronavirus crisis.
Stability of Housing & Utilities
During this time of crisis, Minnesotans need to be able to stay in their homes. No leases should be terminated at this time, either via rent increase or via non-renewals to allow Minnesotans the security of their homes during this time of crisis.
Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures
To ensure that Minnesotans can stay in their homes during this pandemic, Minnesota must enact a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. The financial impacts of social isolation will be devastating, and we need to have security of our homes until after the initial crisis has passed.
Moratorium on Utility Shutoffs
Every Minnesotan, regardless of zip code, should have continued access to essential services including electric, phone, internet, water, and gas, during this time of crisis. We need an indefinite moratorium on the shutdown of any of these services, with a particular focus on those serving rural communities. Protecting provision of essential services is vital to protecting vulnerable people, allowing for distance learning, as well as preventing spread of COVID-19 by easing social solidarity through distancing.
Food System Security
Extending Farmer Mediation
Farmers are a critical part of Minnesota’s food system, and our economy. All mediation periods for farmers should be extended by 90 days. Furthermore, banks should be required to release living expenses for farmers in extended mediation.
Release of Farm Operating Funds
Farmers, who were already in financial crisis before the COVID-19 pandemic, need operating funding for crops and livestock. Farmers are deciding right now whether or not they can afford to continue to farm. An immediate release of operating funds will mean farmers can plant a crop, livestock will be fed and cared for and for many, that their farms will not be forced out of business. Farming expenditures are critical to rural economies. Farmers spend money locally, and that money circulates through the community, supporting local businesses and families.
Honor School-Farm Contracts
School districts must honor contracts with farmers who are providing local, healthy food to children through farm to school programs.
Health and Safety in Prisons
Hundreds of thousands of people are being held in crowded, unsafe conditions in state and federal prisons. Those in prison must be able to communicate with loved ones via free functional technology. Prisons and jails must create and make public humane quarantine plans with the public. This includes the immediate release or transfer to community supervision incarcerated people at highest risk of death from infection or at lowest risk to public safety.
Keep ICE out of our communities
Especially during a pandemic, it is critical that no communities are fearful about seeking to cover basic needs. ICE must cease all local enforcement operations, be they in hospitals or courts, or in any part of our community. In addition, we need to eliminate ICE check-ins and mandatory court appearances. Last, local and state governments must not share personal information with ICE.
End Criminalization of Unhoused population
Especially during this time, everyone in Minnesota deserves to be treated with dignity and basic humanity, whether or not you have a roof over your head. Our unhoused population needs support, not criminalization, disruption and displacement. Stop interference with encampments, tents, RV/vehicle parking, or outdoor sleeping.
Protections against Domestic Violence
During an epidemic, survivors of domestic violence are at high risk for repeated violence from perpetrators, as people are forced to stay in closed quarters. We must pass an automatic granting of temporary restraining orders.