Harrisburg, Pa. −  April 1, 2020 − Senators Maria Collett and Lindsey M. Williams announced today that they are introducing legislation to provide workers in healthcare facilities, public assistance workers, other direct support professionals, and first responders with the tools they need to maintain their mental and physical health as they work to keep us all safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The legislation, based on American Working Family Relief Action Plan, would provide support to these front-line workers in several ways. It would: 

  • Provide emergency funding for safety equipment, including personal protective equipment such as N95 masks, and mental health supports for healthcare workers and other public sector workers classified as essential; 
  • Create clear standards for the implementation of containment control plans in healthcare facilities, including emergency standards and accountability; 
  • Prioritize front-line workers in COVID-19 testing; 
  • Suspend, or limit, in-person services to the greatest extent possible by shifting to virtual assistance working standards for public workers classified as essential; 
  • Require cleaning standards for workplaces that remain open during this crisis to meet or exceed state and federal standards for COVID-19 prevention. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to change how we live our lives. Some of us have the ability to work from home, but our front-line workers do not have that luxury. They are out working in dangerous conditions, putting themselves and their families at increased risk on a daily basis,” said Senator Williams. “We owe it to them to prioritize their health and safety so that they can continue to provide the life-sustaining services that we all rely on.” 

“We must provide greater support and protections to the brave workers who protect, heal and comfort us,” said Senator Collett. “Our doctors, nurses, first responders, senior care aides and others should not have to worry about getting sick or infecting others while performing their essential work. As a nurse, I know firsthand the challenges they face and the urgency of passing this critical legislation to address the health risks these workers are up against.” 

Together, we can stop the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing and using other transmittal mitigation strategies across our communities.  However, we still need to take action on behalf of our front-line workers by providing them with explicit supports to keep them as safe as possible.