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A Letter to My Local Government Regarding Covid19

March 16, 2020

 

CN: extensive discussion of Covid 19 and the structural ways it is impacting society

Unusual times call for unusual measures: Twice in as many weeks, I’ve written a “reactionary” blog post, this time, in response to the Covid19 pandemic that’s severely impacting the entire world right now. Institutional activism is not my strength, but for reasons listed below, these issues require a uniquely high proportion of institutional and legislative support. 

 

I have written a letter to send to my local government representatives that outlines what I believe should be top priority concerns for our government to address regarding Covid19 on both a state and federal level.
 

After listing the letter in its full form, I’m providing a plain text form version that I encourage you to copy, paste, and adapt as needed to send to your own representatives. The information in my letter is specific to the US but most of the ideas and arguments would likely be applicable to other countries. I provide information on how folks in the US can find and contact your representatives at the end. 

A Letter to Our Local Government


[Insert Title],


I want to start by sincerely thanking you and the collective leadership in Oregon for everything you’ve done to protect our citizens in light of the Covid19 pandemic. [Insert gratitude for actions specific to recipient, listed below:] 

 

Governor Kate Brown: I highly appreciate your decisions to declare a state of emergency to free up funding, to close all k-12 schools, and to put a moratorium on gatherings of 250+ people.

 
Mayor Lucy Vinis: I highly appreciate your efforts to proactively protect Lane County by installing extra hand washing stations, increasing the scale of cleanings of public areas, and generally offering good information on the virus to the public.

 
Senator Ron Wyden: I highly appreciate your help in advocating for more federal funds & medical resources, as well as your introduction of The Resilient Elections Act. 


Senator Jeff Merkley: I highly appreciate your help in advocating for more federal funds & medical resources, as well as your decision to launch an Oregon coronavirus resource web page.


Representative Peter DeFazio: I highly appreciate your help in advocating for more federal funds & medical resources.

 

Personally, I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized that I could trust the government representatives of my state to take care of us during this terrifying and uncertain time.

 

I want to call your attention to several pressing issues that the spread of the virus and the resulting precautions have caused that I believe require an urgent response.

 
What We’re Facing


The amount of time, work, and money that goes into meeting all the needs of an individual is far more than any single individual can accomplish. If you have ten parents who each care for one child, each parent has to separately ensure their child has a safe place to be, someone to look after them, and food to eat. In a normally functioning society, we’ve recognized that it is far more resource-efficient to consolidate all of this needed care under one guardian such as a daycare host or a teacher for many children at once. You can find ways to apply this same principle to things like making money, transportation, purchasing supplies, etc. 

 

As a result, one of the primary challenges facing our country right now is that it has become unsafe to consolidate the mechanisms that serve people in their daily life because of the risk gathering in large numbers currently poses to society. It simply isn’t possible for each individual family to cope with the ramifications of no childcare as a result of school cancelations, no money as a result of work instability, and limited ability to acquire additional necessary resources, by themselves. Very few can cope with this crisis alone and unassisted.

 
What We Want You To Do About It


It’s important now, more than ever, for our government representatives to mobilize financial, organizational, and legislative resources that our individual families are so lacking in right now. Here’s what that might look like:

 

  • Require all insurance companies to cover costs incurred as a result of testing or treatment for Covid19. 

  • Make Covid19 testing widely available and affordable, with or without insurance.

  • Protect families and small businesses from evictions and landlords from foreclosures in the event they are unable to pay rent. You cannot follow a quarantine if you have no home to return to. 

  • Enact a “zero tolerance” policy against price gouging for crucial supplies, like toilet paper, masks, and hand sanitizer.  

  • Temporarily suspend jury trials and calls for jury duty. 

  • Endorse Senator Warren’s plan for a ‘grassroots’ stimulus package to stabilize the economy on multiple levels.**

  • Ensure especially vulnerable populations have access to necessities including: food, water, clean and uncontaminated shelter, hand washing stations, basic supplies, medical care, and specific financial support. 

 

Vulnerable populations that need extra support: 

  • Low-income families with children

  • Prison populations

  • Youth group homes

  • The houseless and housing insecure

  • Unemployed

  • Undocumented immigrants and detained asylum seekers

  • East-Asian communities-- These families and their businesses have been hit harder financially as a result of xenophobia and racism associated with the virus. 

  • Immunocompromised, disabled and/or elderly individuals. Many are currently unable to leave their homes and therefore may not have easy access to the needed supplies. 

 

The Complications of School Closures and/or Missing Work


Many parents rely on schools to provide childcare and school lunch and in light of the very necessary school closures, these families are now facing the challenge of covering these needs themselves while continuing to work to cover their regular expenses. The parents in these low-income families that are most likely to be hit hard by this shift are also more likely to work in customer service or retail jobs. These are jobs that a. Have the worst policies for sick leave and paid time off b. Have high levels of contact with many different people every day, making them all the more likely to spread or be exposed to the virus and c. Are absolutely integral to our society’s ability to function.

 

We need better sick leave, paid time off, and work from home policies to ensure those who can continue to work do and those who can’t, don’t suffer job-loss or financial insecurity. We also need child care alternatives in the event that a parent cannot stay home from work, for example, if the parent is one of the very needed medical professionals working to care for the sick. 

 

I’d also like to advocate for extra support for our small local businesses, especially for our entertainment and arts-based organizations. Such groups rely heavily on in-person traffic to fund their efforts, and typically work with tight budgets at the best of times. Event cancelations and social distancing have been taking a very heavy toll on these organizations.

 
Thank You.


The work you do is seen, it is recognized, and it is deeply appreciated. I am so grateful for your continued dedication to the people of Oregon.

 

Kella Hanna-Wayne

 

**Was only included in letters to representatives on the federal level. 

 

 

Form letter for General Use

 

Before copying and pasting everything below, take a second to google what your representatives and local government members have done so far to assist your state in coping with the Covid19 pandemic. I recommend googling, “[name of representative] Covid19” and then scanning the headlines. Add the issues they’ve already addressed to the beginning appreciation section, add the issues they haven’t addressed to the “What We Want You To Do About It” section. 

[INSERT TITLE AND NAME],


I want to start by sincerely thanking you and the collective leadership in [INSERT STATE] for everything you’ve done to protect our citizens in light of the Covid19 pandemic. [INSERT GRATITUDE FOR ACTIONS SPECIFIC TO RECIPIENT.] Personally, I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized that I could trust the government representatives of my state to take care of us during this terrifying and uncertain time. 

 

I want to call to your attention several pressing issues that the spread of the virus and the resulting precautions have caused that I believe require urgent response.

 

What We’re Facing

 

The amount of time, work, and money that goes into meeting all the needs of an individual is far more than any single individual can accomplish. If you have ten parents who each care for one child, each parent has to separately ensure their child has a safe place to be, someone to look after them, and food to eat. In a normally functioning society, we’ve recognized that it is far more resource-efficient to consolidate all of this needed care under one guardian such as a daycare host or a teacher for many children at once. You can find ways to apply this same principle to things like making money, transportation, purchasing supplies, etc.

 

As a result, one of the primary challenges facing our country right now is that it has become unsafe to consolidate the mechanisms that serve people in their daily life because of the risk gathering in large numbers currently poses to society. It simply isn’t possible for each individual family to cope with the ramifications of no childcare as a result of school cancelations, no money as a result of work instability, and limited ability to acquire additional necessary resources, by themselves. Very few can cope with this crisis alone and unassisted.

 

What We Want You To Do About It

 

It’s important now, more than ever, for our government representatives to mobilize financial, organizational, and legislative resources that our individual families are so lacking in right now. Here’s what that might look like: 

 

[INSERT NUMBERED LIST OF STRATEGIES AND HIGHLIGHTED ISSUES. SUGGESTIONS FOR WHAT TO INCLUDE LISTED BELOW FORM]

 

Vulnerable populations that need extra support: 


--Low-income families with children
--Prison populations
--Youth group homes
--The houseless and housing insecure
--Unemployed
--Undocumented immigrants and detained asylum seekers
--East-Asian communities-- These families and their businesses have been hit harder financially as a result of xenophobia and racism associated with the virus. 
--Immunocompromised, disabled and/or elderly individuals. Many are currently unable to leave their homes and therefore may not have easy access to the needed supplies. 

 

[INCLUDE THIS SECTION ONLY IF SCHOOL CLOSURES & INSUFFICIENT PAID TIME OFF ARE RELEVANT TO YOUR STATE]

 

The Complications of School Closures and/or Missing Work

 

Many parents rely on schools to provide childcare and school lunch and in light of the very necessary school closures, these families are now facing the challenge of covering these needs themselves while continuing to work to cover their regular expenses. The parents in these low-income families that are most likely to be hit hard by this shift are also more likely to work in customer service or retail jobs. These are jobs that a. Have the worst policies for sick leave and paid time off b. Have high levels of contact with many different people every day, making them all the more likely to spread or be exposed to the virus and c. Are absolutely integral to our society’s ability to function. 

 

We need better sick leave, paid time off, and work from home policies to ensure those who can continue to work do and those who can’t, don’t suffer job-loss or financial insecurity. We also need child care alternatives in the event that a parent cannot stay home from work, for example, if the parent is one of the very needed medical professionals working to care for the sick.

 

[OPTIONAL ISSUE TO INCLUDE:]

 

I’d also like to advocate for extra support for our small local businesses, especially for our entertainment and arts-based organizations. Such groups rely heavily on in-person traffic to fund their efforts, and typically work with tight budgets at the best of times. Event cancelations and social distancing have been taking a very heavy toll on these organizations. 

 

Thank You.

 

The work you do is seen, it is recognized, and it is deeply appreciated. I am so grateful for your continued dedication to the people of [INSERT STATE].

 

[INSERT YOUR NAME/SIGNATURE]

Suggestions for Strategies and Issues to Include in Your Letter:

 

  • Close all K-12 schools

  • Place restrictions on the size of public gatherings

  • Require all insurance companies to cover costs incurred as a result of testing or treatment for Covid19. 

  • Make Covid19 testing widely available and affordable, with or without insurance.

  • Protect families and small businesses from evictions and landlords from foreclosures in the event they are unable to pay rent. You cannot follow a quarantine if you have no home to return to. 

  • Enact a “zero tolerance” policy against price gouging for crucial supplies, like toilet paper, masks, and hand sanitizer. 

  • Install additional public hand-washing stations, especially in areas with high concentrations of the unhoused. 

  • Temporarily suspend jury trials and calls for jury duty.

  • Endorse Senator Warren’s plan for a ‘grassroots’ stimulus package to stabilize the economy on multiple levels. [use only for federal representatives]

  • Ensure especially vulnerable populations have access to necessities including: food, water, clean and uncontaminated shelter, hand washing stations, basic supplies, medical care, and specific financial support. 

 

Basic Info About How to Contact your Representatives

 

 

Using This Letter


You are more than welcome to copy and paste any and all of either the form letter or the original letter when contacting your own representatives. 

 

It is not required, but if you want to include a note that your letter was written with the assistance of Kella Hanna-Wayne with yoppvoice.com it would be appreciated! 

 

 

Now go contact your local representatives and share this form letter with all your friends! 

 

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