Statement from the Baltimore People’s Power Assembly.
As health care workers and advocates and as community, civil rights and union organizers we call on City and State officials to begin preparations to protect the people of Baltimore especially those most vulnerable for a Covid-19 outbreak in our community.
We believe there are special considerations to be addressed in Baltimore. For instance, most of our population are low wage workers living paycheck to paycheck; close to 25% live below the poverty line; and a large number of people regardless of age have chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease that put them at greater risk for death.
Concerns for the elderly and the poor, the homeless, prisoners and our immigrant population need to be addressed sooner rather than later.
These considerations are not only critical for Baltimore but for workers and the poor across the State of Maryland. As such, we are disseminating this to the Governor, State and Senate Delegates also.
We therefore request a meeting with the Baltimore City Health Department — and other political officials and leaders so that we can jointly address our specific concerns and our proposals.
Concrete proposals and questions:
- Full paid sick and childcare leave to all impacted workers for the duration of the time that workers are forced to be off their jobs. This includes workers who are sick or quarantined and also school workers including teacher support staff, custodial workers, etc. It includes parents who are forced to stay home with children.
- No reprisals or job losses for workers who are sick, quarantined or taking care of school children or family members.
- Halt evictions and foreclosures for those who are sick, quarantined or cannot work due to the crisis.
- Develop a plan on how food can be distributed and delivered to vulnerable families and individuals who cannot stockpile supplies.
- A large number of school children in Baltimore City depend on school provided lunches.
- Implement a plan in each school to deliver lunches to children in the advent of school closing. Include teachers, their union, and parents in this plan.
- Provide a phone hotline staffed by medical professionals so that those who do not have primary doctors or nurses can get clear health instructions so that testing and other home services can be coordinated.
- Provide free broadband internet service through Comcast so that all city residents including students without service can be connected for emergency communication and school work.
- Develop a free app that can be downloaded to phones and computers so that alerts can be sent out to dispel rumors and deliver people oriented preventative health education.
- Make sure everyone is fully covered for all medical treatment including testing and suspend debt in the advent of a major crisis.
- Protect all health care and frontline workers; consult with union representatives from the National Nurses United, 1199 Healthcare Workers Union, United Food and Commercial Workers and with workers directly. Make sure that there is adequate personal protective equipment for all frontline workers.
- Develop and distribute an app for all willing and able health care providers, nurses, doctors, EMS from the broader community so that they may be called up to act as frontline teams if needed.
- Make special provisions now for undocumented and immigrant families who may be fearful in reporting illness due to fear of deportation. This includes suspending all deportations and consulting with the immigrant community.
- Make sure that plans are being made to specifically service the homeless both in shelters and in the street.
- Address the rights of those who are incarcerated, especially those in city jail, to make sure that loved ones who are locked up are not forgotten and at risk.
- What is being done by the Mass Transit Administration to ensure commuters and bus riders are as safe as possible i.e. frequently cleaning?
- We ask that the city and state government dispel racism and racist stereotypes that have been promulgated during this pandemic and that accurate medical information be made widespread to the public now rather than later through TV and radio ads. It is critical that no community is targeted or blamed.
The people of Baltimore and the many organizations that they belong to are a tremendous resource that can be drawn on in a time of crisis.
The city and state government has the power to declare a State of Emergency to provide for the people and take action to promote not only people’s health and safety, but to protect people from evictions, job and wage losses, and much more.
Addressing these proposals protects the health of the entire population. Unless low wage workers, the poor and those most vulnerable are insured that they will not be stigmatized or suffer great losses, they will be less able and willing to self-quarantine. Unless we involve frontline health care workers and community organizers in being part of the solution, we will be hampered in fighting an epidemic.
Baltimore People’s Power Assembly