No matter what we look like, where we live or how much money we have, getting sick reminds us that we’re all human. As the number of COVID-19 cases rises at an alarming rate, this is a moment for us to recommit to standing with and for each other. We pull through by pulling together.
I still believe coming together is possible, even in this time of toxic partisanship. With the virus spreading rapidly and our hospitals on the edge of being overwhelmed, my hope is that the seriousness of the situation will bring new focus to the Legislature, and on the health and safety of Minnesotans.
First, leaders on both sides of the aisle must speak with one voice and stress the importance of following public health guidance. I cannot emphasize enough how critical it is that we stay home when we are sick, wear masks, physically distance and limit social gatherings, especially with the holidays approaching.
During the next legislative session in January, we will need to support the state’s public health response in every way we can. The Legislature can also put a COVID-19 response package together to address needs the pandemic has brought into clear focus.
We can implement a paid family and medical leave program as a state. We have to make sure that workers can stay home when they are sick. Too many workers feel that they can’t afford to miss work because they can’t afford to miss a paycheck, and some report being forced to work when sick. This isn’t good for any of us. For the sake of getting the virus under control, everyone needs to be able to take time to care of themselves and their loved ones.
We need border-to-border high speed broadband. Before COVID-19, there were students in our district whose families drove them into town so they could find high speed internet and do their homework. Distance learning makes having access to high speed broadband even more critical for families. We need high speed broadband for our students, but also for our farmers, small businesses and small communities.
Too many families still can’t access affordable health insurance. We can improve access by allowing anyone to buy in to MinnesotaCare. Key to controlling any epidemic is investing in our ability to access primary care, and right now there are many Minnesotans who avoid going to the doctor. They don’t have insurance, and they are afraid of what it will cost. We can change that.
Revenue will be needed, and we can work toward a state tax code that fits our values. Other states have added policies like a “millionaires tax” and are asking large corporations to pay their fair share, too. We can follow their lead so that we can pass policy that is good for all Minnesotans.
We’re in this together, and now we need our leaders to work together to chart a course that works for all of us.