On Wednesday, March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to be a pandemic. The uncertain nature and health impacts of the virus driving an abundance of caution has already caused a great deal of disruption globally. This disruption will likely continue and worsen in the coming weeks.
It is during crises like this that cooperative, bold leadership is most needed. It is also during crises like this that vulnerable populations in a derelict system can suffer tremendously. For these reasons, we call upon those in leadership to fill the gaps and present serious solutions to protect those most economically and physically vulnerable. Among such solutions, the state should consider pausing evictions and utility shutoffs; expanding unemployment insurance and SNAP; suspending collection on student loan, home, and medical debt; providing emergency sick leave; and eliminating payments for testing and treatment for the virus.
In the long-term, as the virus subsides, Virginia should strengthen its medical and crisis infrastructure. It can do this most effectively by implementing basic policies that reduce the vulnerability of all Virginians to dislocation and disruption. These include ensuring healthcare as a human right, providing paid family and sick leave to all Virginians, supporting universal childcare, reducing debt burdens, and revising pandemic response measures.
The Green Party has been on the forefront in calling for these policies as well as a single payer Medicare for All system including long-term elder care, a universal basic income, a living wage, student and predatory debt forgiveness, affordable housing, and a decentralized government with local communities prepared to provide necessities for self-sustainability and well-being. This crisis is exposing why these policies are a necessity for the safety and security of all Americans.
We thank all those on the front lines fighting this pandemic for their bravery and commitment to a rigorous scientific process - the doctors, nurses, first responders, scientists and others who are essential to limiting the spread and lethality of this disease. We encourage all Virginians to listen to their advice, including common sense preventive measures.
While this crisis unfolds, we must guard against disinformation and the abuse of civil liberties by governments as they claim emergency powers to address the crisis or seek to scapegoat certain groups. We must move forward together as we build a society that works for all Virginians.