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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

This is a moment that will show what kind of community we really are.

It takes a real community to fight COVID-19
By Aaron Regunberg

Image result for thank you to health workersEverywhere I look, I see Rhode Islanders stepping up -- from neighborhood associations organizing volunteers to deliver groceries, to local restaurants offering free lunch to kids, to the leadership at the RI Department of Health, to the countless heroes working on the frontlines of our medical system, emergency response units and government offices.

And they're not the only people doing the work. Every Rhode Islander who is staying home is helping to contain the spread of COVID-19 and keep us safe.

Right now unless we must work, get basic supplies, help someone else, exercise away from other people, or get medical care, we all need to stay in our homes. One of the best ways we can stop unnecessary deaths is to make sure our friends and family understand why it is so important we change our routines and stay away from one another.

Image may contain: 1 person, possible text that says 'Shelf stockers, cashiers and grocery baggers are all going to work during a PANDEMIC to make sure YOU have what you need. NOW DO YOU AGREE THEY DESERVE A LIVING WAGE? OCCUPY DEMOCRATS'The impact of COVID-19 will not be fully felt for a few more weeks, and many people in our community are going to need help. At the end of this email is a list of some existing resources, but so much more support will be needed. 

Local organizations and activists are developing proposals for state leaders to share the needs they are seeing, and ensure that our most vulnerable neighbors are safe. Rhode Island needs universal paid leave that includes gig, tip, part-time, hourly and other workers. We need a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. 

We need to offer direct financial assistance to our low- and middle-income neighbors. We need to make our prisons less crowded -- social distancing is impossible in jail, so we should be releasing people who pose no threat to our community.

I will keep sharing ways we can advocate for support for those who need it most, and please share your ideas with me. But at this moment, helping your friends, family, and neighbors commit to staying home should absolutely be our first priority. And one way we can do that is by reminding each other that we are all in this together.

It would be great if that message didn't need to be repeated. But our nation is divided. For decades we have been buffeted by political forces pushing us to disbelieve in having each other's backs, urging us to question why those with access to health resources, or houses, or economic security should feel any responsibility to those without.

But we are responsible for one another. This public health crisis makes that clear. And even after this virus passes, we will continue to endanger our community if we think we are in it for ourselves.

Let's make a choice, right here and right now, to reject that thinking. Let's face the challenges in our future, and the crises that so many families face each and every day, as a community. Let's make a commitment to each other that we are all in this together.

P.S. I hope you have already seen this information, but some important resources: