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AFSCME President Addresses Coronavirus, Calls for Member Safety

Pete Levine
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As the coronavirus (COVID-19) emerges in the United States, many AFSCME members are and will continue to be on the front lines caring for and transporting those afflicted with the virus. Workers in emergency services, health care, child care, educational institutions and many others may come in contact with people who’ve contracted the coronavirus, putting themselves at risk.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders is urging the Trump administration and Congress to ensure that the full resources of the federal government are made available to assist front-line state, local and municipal public service workers so our communities are prepared to combat the coronavirus.

“At moments like these, [public service workers] need the tools and resources to do their jobs effectively. As the coronavirus threat increases, I urge the Trump administration and Congress to provide state and local governments with the funding necessary to protect both public service workers and the general public,” Saunders said in the statement issued Friday.

AFSCME is urging Congress to quickly pass emergency measures that would include new funding – not offsets that take money from other sources – to:

  • Purchase protective equipment (N95 respiratory masks, goggles, gloves, etc.) for health care workers and others at high risk of exposure and provide needed training to workers;
  • Reimburse localities and states for COVID-19 preparation and response activities;
  • Strengthen the public health infrastructure by increasing staffing levels;
  • Direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a temporary emergency infectious disease standard.

Saunders also urged unity in addressing the coronavirus, saying, “This public health emergency demands that the American people come together, work with each other and be decent to one another. AFSCME will continue to fight every single day for a robust public health infrastructure that keeps workers and communities safe, healthy and strong.” 

AFSCME continues to monitor the spread of coronavirus to provide the most up-to-date and effective measures so members can best protect themselves and their communities from the virus’s spread.