Here are some reports from the frontlines where are partners are doing emergency response work. While this pandemic is new, the underlying needs are not, and the COVID-19 crisis is laying bare deep fault lines that have existed for far too long.
Chicago Workers’ Collaborative reports that Illinois temp workers producing, packing and shipping critical supplies such as hand sanitizer, soap, medicine and medical PPE continue to work in crowded factory lines and use biometric time clock scanners to punch in and out with their fingerprints, a clear hazard during the pandemic.
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers reports that Florida farmworkers picking the produce that supplies our nation’s grocery stores are being transported in buses to the fields that are not adequately cleaned. Sick workers are not able to be safely quarantined and instead are forced to remain in crowded housing.
Picture the Homeless reports that New Yorkers are being told to stay home with no regard for those who have none (one out of every 10 children in the NYC school system is homeless), and shelters are still sending people out all day and allowing residents back in only at night, putting them at risk of infection and further spreading illness. Shelters are overcrowded, and are unable to implement six-foot distancing needed to protect residents.
Put People First PA! has long warned about hospital closures and lack of public health infrastructure in rural Pennsylvania where they organize. Residents know that when their towns are hit by this virus, they will not have the capacity to respond.
We are currently consulting with all our partners and our coalitions to identify how we can support them and their constituencies during the crisis. This will include both support in emergency safety responses for the most vulnerable communities, longer-term economic planning given the inevitable impacts of the crisis, and developing methods to continue moving campaigns and work in a moment where physically gathering is impossible.