People Demand Bold Action to Save Lives
and Prevent Second Wave of COVID-19 Infections
Congress Must Approve “Saving Peoples’ Lives Act of 2020”
Dr. Paul Zeitz
(14 April 2020, Washington, DC) Social distancing is saving lives. But our national leaders, impatient to get Americans back to work, are sending messages that undermine on-the-ground health and safety recommendations that state governors, mayors and local health departments are urging.
Americans cannot count on their national leaders to make decisions that prioritize human lives and health over the economy. Everyday citizens must come off the sidelines, raise their voices and create the health-first policies that can keep our families and communities safe from COVID-19.
To stop the spread of COVID-19, and to manage the next wave of infections certain to come, we must demand extending federal stay-at-home guidelines through May 31, 2020 at minimum, and an aggressive campaign to put in place national testing, tracking, isolation and containment (TTIC) capabilities. Quite simply, we can’t let people return to work until we identify and isolate infected people; we can’t isolate infected people until we identify them; and we can’t identify them until they are tested.
The newly formed COVID-19 Emergency Response Group aims to give concerned Americans a voice in shaping the Trump Administration’s and the world’s response to this unprecedented health emergency.
The COVID-19 Emergency Response Group, made up of leading public health experts, faith and business leaders, former senior Congressional and legislative staffers, local and state elected officials, and leaders of national NGOs, will help draft federal legislation, support smart existing legislation, lobby the United Nations, and advocate for governments around the world.
The passage of the “Saving Peoples’ Lives Act of 2020” is a set of bold of measures that must be included in the next COVID-19 legislative package now being considered in Congress:
- Pushing for urgent investment in a robust program of TTIC: testing, tracking, isolation and containment capabilities, to be implemented over the next months, with full federal funding for health departments and agencies at the state, county, and municipal levels
- Addressing racial and ethnic disparities that make Latinos and African-Americans more vulnerable, including immigrants, incarcerated people, and the homeless.
Statements from Leaders in the COVID-19 Emergency Response Group
Jeffrey Sachs, professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University: “We are still far from any coherent national plan. It’s only the governors and mayors who are scrambling and who are consulting the experts in their public health systems, universities, and other scientific institutions. What would be in such a national plan? It’s obvious and I’ve outlined it before. We would be contacting symptomatic individuals and quickly isolating them. We would be tracing their contacts and testing them too. We would be using phone apps and online registries to support the tracing, testing, and isolation processes. We would be screening the public for symptoms in bus and train stations, airports, and other public places. We would be wearing face masks in public, and be using hand sanitizers relentlessly. Our goal would be to identify and isolate potential COVID-19 cases as early and quickly as possible through standard public health measures that should have been used from the start but were not. We would be doing, in short, what the Asian countries have been doing to control the epidemic.”
Jennifer Roberts, former Mayor of Charlotte, N.C.: “Local government has responded bravely to the COVID-19 pandemic—more bravely than our national leaders. Cities and states have led the way in mandating social distancing, supporting healthcare infrastructure, and ordering non-essential businesses to close temporarily. This is painful but necessary if we are to avoid an even greater loss of life and business when the virus resurges. As we wait for new treatments and ultimately a vaccine, we must remember: Economies recover. Deceased loved ones do not.”
Domingo Garcia, LULAC National President: “Across the United States, black and Hispanic people suffer disproportionately from poverty, poor health care and chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Now the data, when it is available, shows that black and Hispanic Americans are dying of the coronavirus disease at rates far higher than white Americans. Latinos are on the front lines in the COVID-19 crisis, continuing to go to work and putting themselves at risk to keep their jobs. LULAC is calling for Latinos to be a part of the testing pool for new COVID-19 vaccines under development, as well as have access to emergency paid sick leave, expanded unemployment insurance and free testing and treatment.”
Dr. Paul Zeitz, Executive Director of Build A Movement 2020 and Co-Chair of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Group: “We call for the urgent inclusion of the Saving Peoples’ Lives Act” in the stimulus package being negotiated by Congress right now. For a $20 billion investment, we can ensure that people can get tested in most communities, and when they are tested, they can receive results quickly, their contacts can be traced, and all infected people can be isolated. Americans can mobilize right now to save as many lives as possible and end the COVID19 pandemic. And if we don’t talk this necessary action, many thousands more Americans will die, and the damage to our economy will be more long-lasting.”
The COVID-19 Emergency Response Group was formed in March 2020 by leading public health experts, faith and business leaders, former senior Congressional Hill staffers, current and former local and state elected officials, and leaders of global, national and local NGOs. Our mission is to support others in mobilizing the people’s voice to save as many lives as possible.