We want to work. We don’t want to die.
We understand your desire to begin the process of reopening our states, getting more residents in our states back to work, and boosting our economies. However, doing so without creating and articulating safety plans in the wake of COVID-19, without releasing realtime COVID-19 data that is aggregated by county and by race, expanding medicaid so that more of our people have access to healthcare, enhancing unemployment to protect those of us who have already lost jobs or cannot work, and increasing testing across our states–especially for cash-poor communities and communities of color, is irresponsible and a death sentence for many of us.
Re-opening our states without meeting these demands puts our communities in the unfair position of choosing between financially providing for our families and putting our families at risk of exposure to a disease that has already stolen the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. In fact, because these states have some of the lowest testing rates in the entire country, the true risk is even greater than we know. And yet, even with limited testing, what we know is that in these states the increases in both cases and deaths are not flattening. They are increasing at alarming rates, particularly in Black communities and rural communities that don’t receive much attention.
Our families, our neighbors, our workers–all workers–are NOT disposable.Our neighbors, relatives, members of our faith communities and coworkers are being put in an impossible position that prioritizes profit over people. Many of our community members cannot afford not to work and either have yet to receive stimulus checks, or have received stimulus support that does not cover all the many needs of their families.We demand that our elected leaders take the necessary time required to find solutions that are safe for our people and good for the economic well-being of our states.
The Economic Recovery Group (ERG), as industry representatives should not be the deciding voice in deciding that businesses should reopen. ERG’s interests are not in alignment with public health safety nor do they actually include any medical health professionals in their process of arriving to the conclusion that now is the time for our states to abandon shelter-in-place orders. Their stated goal simply prioritizes the speed of re-opening rather than the collective welfare of communities already impacted by disproportionate lack of access to COVID-19 testing and treatment.
We are building a coalition across our great region. We are workers. We are healthcare providers. We are grassroots community organizers, advocates, and activists. We are leaders and communities of faith. We are multi-racial, multicultural, multi-generational, and from different economic classes. We are urban and rural and from small towns in between. We are an alliance of concerned and directly impacted residents and their allies from other states that will be impacted if folks in the South get sick.
We are people who believe that we should not have to choose between the safety of our people and the economic wellness of our state. We are people who believe that there are solutions that do not require us to choose between the safety of our families and having enough money to put food on the table.
An immediate recension of the reopening of our states and reinstatement of shelter-in-place orders
Safety plans for each state before they reopen that includes resources for PPEs for workers
Realtime COVID-19 data disaggregated by county and race
Increased public health model testing, tracing, and treatment, with specific support to communities that are low-income and communities of color
The immediate expansion of Medicaid in each of our states
Enhanced unemployment support for residents that have lost jobs or cannot work
We look forward to your leadership to address these concerns and your support of these demands.