As all of our communities deal with the spread of coronavirus, people will look to local governments for an efficient and bold response that protects the safety of all residents as well as the public health.
We know full well that the inequities entrenched in our society are only exacerbated in an emergency like the coronavirus outbreak. In a public health emergency, we are only as healthy as those most vulnerable, least economically secure, and least covered by our social services. As local governments across the country respond to the spread of coronavirus, they must keep in mind that economic security is fundamental to public health, and we must do all we can to keep people secure enough to take care of themselves and endure a quarantine or treatment if required.
We made this call to action page to aid Local Progress members in taking bold local action and raising our collective voices from across the country.
Click here to go back to the main Local Progress Coronavirus Response page.
Initial Call to Action
We are encouraging all Local Progress members to act as a network to advance paid leave, pass moratoriums on evictions and utility shutoffs, and ensure a response that protects the most vulnerable.
1) Advance paid leave, however you can
If you already have a local or state paid sick leave law, expand your paid sick leave so that it covers all workers and provides additional paid leave during public health emergencies.
If you don’t have a paid sick leave law on the books, introduce or call on your executive to pass a universal paid sick leave law today, and make sure it provides sufficient leave during public health emergencies.
If you’re preempted by your state from passing paid sick leave, call on your state leaders to immediately pass emergency paid sick leave and undo preemption that stands in the way of crucial local public health measures.
Paid sick leave should be a fundamental right even in the best of times, but for those facing a two week quarantine or job and school closures, it won’t be enough, especially for those without traditional employment or those working part-time.
With that in mind, we urge all Local Progress members to explore creating an emergency leave and income assistance fund to support people who lose income in circumstances directly or indirectly related to the spread of coronavirus.
It’s time for us to put the era of incomplete paid sick leave coverage behind us. Everyone, whether employee or contractor, must have the right to stay home to recover or take care of a loved one, without sacrificing their livelihood. They must have this right now and going forward.
2) Pass a moratorium on evictions and utility shutoffs
Many renters already struggle to keep up with rising rents and any lost income during a public health emergency will further put tenants at risk of eviction. Preventing the spread of the coronavirus means keeping people in secure housing if they need to self-quarantine or take care of family members.
Local leaders should pass an emergency eviction moratorium to ensure tenants can stay home during an outbreak without risk of being evicted if they aren’t able to pay rent as a result of lost income. They should ban late fees to prevent a financial cliff for tenants.
Utility shutoffs already cause immense hardship and discriminatory impact in the best of times, but in a public health emergency where people are asked to self-quarantine, they’re unconscionable. Any loss in income will make it harder for people to keep up with their utility bills for urgent resources like heat, water, electricity, internet, and phone service.
Elected officials should pass a moratorium on any public utility shutoffs and urge private utilities to do the same. Localities can also implement deferred payment plans for utility service and eliminate late fees.
3) Ensure your local government’s response to coronavirus protects and prioritizes those most vulnerable in a public health emergency
A crisis will reveal where our society has disenfranchised and left behind those most vulnerable in that very crisis. So it is absolutely essential for our response to the coronavirus outbreak to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of those people who might already be at risk.
We urge you to take measures to protect those living in vulnerable environments during an outbreak, whether they’re incarcerated, institutionalized, in shelters, in temporary living arrangements, or in ICE custody.
Make sure hospitals, healthcare centers, and social services are inclusive and safe places where residents will not fear immigration enforcement or criminalization. Take measures like pretrial release, medical furloughs, and bail reform to reduce the number of people being incarcerated.