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Monday October 26th 2020

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Tips from a COVID-19 Case Investigator

 By LINDSEY FENNER

 The pandemic has brought into sharp focus all of the inadequacies and inequities of American society. And yet, so many are zoomed in on personal actions and individual rights, based on some blurry idea of “freedom.” While there is much we can each do as individuals to limit risk and exposure to COVID-19, after every single phone call I have with someone who has tested positive, I am struck by the enormous structural failures everyone I talk to has encountered. From testing difficulties, loss of income, confusing communication, mistrust of government, lack of ability to isolate, workplace safety concerns, and on and on, it is clear to me that there is no singular or simple solution to this pandemic. But this doesn’t mean that there is nothing to be done. 

This is where all of you come in. Vote like your life depends on it, because it does. 

Vote for Federal leadership on masking, PPE production, testing, treatment, and vaccines so that we have all of the tools that we need;

Vote for getting politics out of public health, so that experts at the CDC and other public health agencies can do their jobs without political meddling;

Vote for an Occupational Safety and Health Administration that will enact and enforce coronavirus workplace safety standards;

Vote for meaningful economic support for workers and families who are impacted by the pandemic;

Vote for an increased minimum wage so that our lowest paid workers on the frontline of this pandemic can have economic security;

Vote for unions because we know that unionized workplaces are safer;

Vote for reducing the pollution that leads to higher COVID-19 death rates and more severe illness in people who live or grow up in areas overburdened with pollution (like East Phillips);

Vote for a Green New Deal that will slow down climate change and the habitat loss that would be certain to lead to more new viruses and future pandemics;

Vote to support small local businesses, so they are still standing when the pandemic is over;

Vote for Universal Healthcare so that people can afford lifesaving medical care;

Vote for housing, because you can’t stay at home when you don’t have a home;

Vote for more and better affordable housing so that people can isolate and quarantine in less crowded conditions, and lower the risk of the spreading the virus to household members;

Vote for immigration reform, so that undocumented neighborswon’t fear that they will be deported if they test positive for coronavirus;

Vote for criminal justice reform that would reduce prison populations, because the largest coronavirus outbreaks have been in prisons;

Vote for dismantling systemic white supremacy, because structural racism is an underlying health condition that is killing Black, Brown, and Indigenous neighbors in this pandemic and every day.

And after you vote, no matter what happens, keep fighting. This pandemic won’t go away overnight, and neither will the issues that have made it worse. As I write this, 194,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. By the time this is published, that number will be well over 200,000. We need to take the time to mourn, and then, we need to organize.

Lindsey is an East Phillips resident, and is currently working a reassignment doing COVID-19 Case Investigator for local public health. Her opinions are her own.

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