FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Media Relations
Washington, D.C., March 14, 2020 – The American Public Health Association applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, legislation to provide paid sick leave and other important measures to support families and workers impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
This important legislation would provide workers impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak with two weeks of paid sick leave. This provision is critical to ensuring that the 34 million American workers who do not currently have access to paid sick leave can take the recommended steps of self-confining at home in the case that they are exposed to the novel coronavirus or experience symptoms. Forcing workers to choose between staying home and receiving their next paycheck threatens the well-being of many low-income workers and increases the potential for community spread of COVID-19. The bill also expands the federal family and medical leave program to help ensure impacted workers are able to care for their own health and the health of their family members.
The legislation would also ensure that testing for COVID-19 will be free to all individuals regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. In addition, the bill provides additional resources and flexibility for important nutrition assistance programs. These provisions increase access to nutrition assistance for populations likely to be impacted by COVID-19, including low-income pregnant women and mothers, children who depend on school lunches, and seniors. The bill would also increase federal matching funds for state Medicaid programs to ensure states have the resources they need to meet increased demand for health care services related to the outbreak.
“Paid sick leave is a critical component to control the spread of the novel coronavirus in the U.S. Workers must not have to choose between protecting their health, the health of their families and co-workers and losing their next paycheck. This bill will go a long way in ensuring our nation can help prevent the spread of the virus and ensuring that those impacted have access to the services they need to during this outbreak,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD. “As we work respond to this outbreak, we must ensure that our most vulnerable populations are protected before more cases of COVID-19 are confirmed. Nothing less than the health of our nation is at stake. We strongly urge the Senate to quickly pass the bill and send it to the president for his signature.”
The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at www.apha.org.