How America can recover from the pandemic | The Optimist Daily: Making Solutions the News
Today’s Solutions: June 21, 2024

As the pandemic continues to advance in the US, it is clear that better leadership and government action is needed, but what should that look like? The EU just passed a €1.82 trillion COVID relief package, but will the US do the same? Elizabeth Warren has ideas on how the US can most effectively use their own relief dollars. 

First, she highlights how this is not an economic crisis versus a health crisis. The two are deeply intertwined. Unfortunately, we squandered the window of time we had to use strong leadership and coordinated action to get ahead of the virus, so we now must, more than ever, implement holistic measures for economic and health solutions. 

The first solution to this crisis is addressing the virus itself, as nothing can be ameliorated until we have it under control. This means aggressive investment in testing, contact tracing, and supply-chain investments to resolve medical supply shortages.

The second solution is addressing schools. Education is one of the most vital components of societal wellness and, as it stands, most of the country is in no state to move forward with school as usual. Warren recommends “at least $500 billion to stabilize state and local governments and at least $175 billion for our public schools to help them reopen safely, avoid teacher layoffs and provide the mental health and other services our children require.” She also stresses the importance of supporting low-income areas where students are disproportionately negatively impacted by distanced learning. 

In line with educational funding, Warren also emphasizes the need to support childcare facilities for essential workers and parents who do not have the flexibility to work from home and care for children simultaneously. 

Lastly, we must address businesses. This means not only providing them with the financial means to stay afloat, but also ensuring that businesses are trained in and implementing safety standards set by OSHA. This means safety in the workplace itself as well as hazard pay, sick leave, family and medical leave, and enforceable health and safety protections for all essential workers.

Other solutions include supporting students and keeping people in their homes by canceling student debt and extending the moratorium on evictions. These solutions are applicable to all corners of the US, but are especially important for communities of color which have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic due to structural inequalities embedded in all facets of our society. 

While these measures may sound drastic, the reality is we need this kind of urgency to stop the damage that this virus is causing to our social, economic, and political structures.

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