supporting communities through the coronavirus Pandemic

Policy Resource Center

Thank you for trusting the YEO Network with your policy and social needs during the Coronavirus outbreak. Based on your suggestions and feedback, we have compiled a list of policies that our members have introduced, as well as those we believe our members can introduce and pass in order to alleviate the effects of the pandemic. If you do not see a policy you’ve introduced or feel would be useful, or if you’d like assistance writing or introducing any of the policies you see here, please reach out either directly to Alana at abyrd@pfaw.org, or through our contact portal, located at the bottom of the page.

Working Families

We encourage our members to introduce bold and inclusive policy which accounts for the struggles of working families. During quarantine and social distancing, many working families have been forced to take leave from their jobs, and this has created numerous financial and social hardships on our constituencies. Fortunately, there are a number of actions local, state, and federal lawmakers can take to alleviate these hardships. These include moratoriums on evictions, utility shutoffs and/or late fees, housing assistance such as rent control and mortgage relief, hunger assistance initiatives like food drives, and suspended ticket and meter collections. Additionally, local and state governments should ensure practices of paid sick and parental leave are available to citizens who are forced to take leave from their jobs, either for quarantine or for childcare.

Helpful News & Resources

From Our Members

 

Healthcare

We hope that members will keep in mind the systems in place to aid their constituencies in responding to and combatting the coronavirus. Healthcare systems during this time of need should be compassionate and available to all citizens who require services during this time. Members are encouraged to introduce policies that allow all constituents to receive healthcare services, and that allow healthcare workers, hospitals, and systems to have the ability to treat all patients concerned with and affected by COVID-19 without fear of affordability or contamination. YEOs should work with insurance companies, where possible, to ensure that all citizens have access to care they need whether or not they are insured.

Helpful News & Resources

From Our Members

 

Schools and Children

A consequence of schools and workplaces shutting down during the outbreak is the large population of children no longer receiving free or reduced-cost meals from school. Members are encouraged to introduce legislation that ensures children continue to have much-needed access to free or reduced-cost meals available to them at a local school or community center, or via delivery. Additionally, we urge members to ensure that school districts have the resources - both technological and financial - to continue educational practices via online systems, so that prolonged absences from school do not seriously affect the work our teachers have put in to properly educate our youth.

Helpful News & Resources

Distance Learning and Equity​

Higher Ed

Nutrition and Hunger

Staff and Workforce

From Our Members

 

Small Business Relief

Many of our members have significant small businesses in our communities, and it is important we help ensure the economy stays strong by providing relief where possible to small businesses in our communities. Examples of ways members can help small businesses include allowing employees, when they are able, to work from home to prevent the spread of the virus; enacting a moratorium on evictions and utility shutoffs; and creating and/or participating in the creation of plans to help stabilize small businesses. 

Helpful News & Resources

From Our Members

 

Protecting Our Most Vulnerable Neighbors

Elected officials have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable citizens during hardships like the coronavirus outbreak - including immigrants, folks who are incarcerated, and seniors and other vulnerable citizens. To ensure all citizens receive quality, affordable, and accessible healthcare, YEOs should commit to making sure that multiple languages are spoken by healthcare workers and that public service announcements are transmitted in as many languages as are necessary to reach all constituencies. Additionally, it is our duty to protect all of our citizens, and this includes providing healthcare and quarantines where necessary to affected and vulnerable members of our shelters, treatment centers, and incarcerated populations, including those under ICE detainment. Those citizens who are at special risk for the virus, including vulnerable and senior citizens, should be afforded special attention when possible. This might include setting up a system for abler-bodied folks to obtain groceries for these individuals, or to set up home visiting for those who are unable to leave their house due to heightened exposure and risk.

Helpful News & Resources

Senior Citizens

Immigrant Communities

Rural Communities

Incarcerated Citizens / Criminal Justice

Families at Risk

Gender Equity

From Our Members

In Focus:  COVID19 and the Black Community

The United States healthcare system has systematically ignored and excluded the illnesses of Black people, and especially Black women. Even with the Affordable Care Act outlawing racial discrimination from healthcare providers, African Americans in the United States still have less access to healthcare than White Americans do. Black women get breast cancer and die from complications while giving birth more than White women do, and overall Black people’s symptoms are ignored or disregarded more than White people’s are. The novel Coronavirus is exposing the gaps in our healthcare system and will force us to have discussions about race, affordable access to doctors, and working to undo the structural biases in the healthcare system that often mean life or death for people of color in the United States.

COVID-19 is plainly revealing the ways in which the healthcare system consistently fails African Americans in the US. African Americans often have a higher chance of contracting diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, and now the coronavirus. In Chicago, for example, Black people make up about 30% of the city’s population but comprise over 70% of the coronavirus cases in the city. In the US as a whole, Black Americans make up about 13% of the population, but 33% of people hospitalized for Coronavirus. Additionally, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director Dr. Anthony Fauci has acknowledged these disparities and has made it clear that the US needs to focus on closing these racial gaps. The US needs to start centering our healthcare systems and practices around the lived experiences of Black Americans, or else this pandemic will have taught us nothing.

Not only are Black Americans constantly failed by our health system, but they are also consistently failed by systemic biases and barriers as a whole. These inequities are also contributing to the disparities between African Americans and White Americans and the likelihood that they will contract COVID-19 and be hospitalized for it. Additionally, while coronavirus and its corresponding shutdowns negatively impact all of us, Black Americans are often feeling these negative impacts far more than White Americans are. One example of this is how Black Americans, particularly Black men are being put in danger by wearing masks. Incidents of racial profiling have increased, and one video of two Black men being followed by police in a Walmart while they were wearing masks has gone viral, demonstrating the danger that these men and other Black men have experienced while following the rules that the CDC has said is best for their safety.

Additionally, African Americans are more likely to work in positions considered “essential” at this time, meaning they still have to go to work and expose themselves to the virus. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Black Americans are more likely than the rest of the workforce to work in transportation, food service, healthcare support, and personal services. Many of these industries are still requiring their employees to go to work at this time, and employees are often not provided with personal protective equipment. 

Similarly, redlining and the structure of United States neighborhoods have resulted in African Americans being significantly more likely to get the coronavirus. Black Americans are 75% more likely to live in an area with poor air quality, therefore making them more susceptible to asthma, which is a preexisting condition that dramatically impacts the severity of the coronavirus. In addition to living in areas that leave them susceptible to asthma and other lung conditions, Black Americans are also more likely to live in food apartheids - a term that Karen Washington coined that describes areas with limited access to fresh food, but that have limitless potential for community gardens and Black gardeners. 

The only way we will protect all United States citizens, but especially Black Americans from the next global pandemic, is if we address the systemic barriers in our healthcare system and our society as a whole that prevent Black Americans from living healthy lives, and further prevent them from getting care when they get sick. We can no longer sit and talk about the inequities and disparities that persist. Instead, we need to use the government’s resources and our newfound knowledge from this pandemic to uplift Black communities and populations around the United States.

Helpful News & Resources

From Our Members

 
 

Voting Rights &

Democracy Reform

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 outbreak is forcing us to quarantine and socially distance during a time when many states have scheduled national elections, and right when the federal government has scheduled the rollout of the 2020 decennial Census. Members should work with state and national officials to ensure that citizens remain safe in the event of an election occuring while folks are required or encouraged to quarantine. Additionally, YEOs should communicate the importance of the Census to their constituencies, and encourage, where possible, members of their community to proceed with filling out their Census either online or through the mail.

Helpful News & Resources

Elections and Voting

Government and Civic Engagement

Census 2020

From Our Members

 

Didn't see what you need? Need additional support?

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Email YEO's Policy Coordinator Alana Byrd at abyrd@pfaw.org or contact our team here.

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