What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

Construction worker Jesus Bejarano wears a face mask bearing the design of the flag of Colorado as he heads back to a nearby site while other workers report to their jobs for the first time in nearly two months with the expiration of the city's stay-at-home order to check the spread of the new coronavirus Saturday, May 9, 2020, in Denver.

At least five of Colorado’s elected democratic socialists have signed on to a letter laying out demands for local government responses to the coronavirus crisis.

Aurora City Council members Alison Coombs and Juan Marcano, Boulder City Councilwoman Junie Joseph, Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca and Jefferson County Surveyor Bryan Douglass joined about two dozen other democratic socialist officials calling for a “just response” to the pandemic, one that is focused on “centering” working people.

“We’re fighting for a world in which human life is valued above profit,” the group wrote in a letter published on In These Times, a progressive political magazine based in Chicago. “As the Covid-19 crisis has spread, at home and abroad, we’ve seen governments slow to invest in healthcare and hospitals, but quick to open up their wallets to bail out large corporations—just as before the pandemic.”

The group said the federal government has “neglected to give the poor and working people the foundation they need to survive,” and is therefore calling on municipal and state governments to support their “demands” for universal health care, workers’ rights, guaranteed housing, accessible government, criminal justice reform and support for young people.

Among their requests, the democratic socialists want universal health care for everyone, regardless of their immigration status. The group called for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be kept out of health care facilities, “so that everyone can enter without fear,” and said that no mass surveillance programs, such as facial recognition or tracking cell phones, should be used to beat this disease.

The officials demand the abolishment of ICE, that everyone held in ICE detention centers be released and that undocumented migrants be eligible for stimulus measures.

The democratic socialists also called for more protections for essential workers, including more personal protective equipment, paid sick leave, benefits for freelancers and direct financial assistance for anyone who needs it to “keep them afloat.

“$1,200 is not enough,” the group wrote, referring to the stimulus checks recently distributed by the Trump administration.

Additionally, the officials are demanding a freeze of rent, mortgages, water and utilities payments, as well as housing for the homeless by way of eminent domain to secure hotel rooms, apartments and foreclosed homes that are vacant.

“This should be the beginning of a Homes for All program that will save lives and money, not a temporary measure,” they wrote. “Debts should also be suspended or forgiven until the crisis is over.”

Elected leaders also are calling for universal vote by mail access, a court hiatus, and a suspension of jury duty, as well as remote work and voting for all government bodies.

“Amid this crisis, democratic processes can only be upheld if they are accessible to all in a safe way,” they wrote.

The group also addressed the criminal justice system, calling for access to adequate hygiene products and health care for all inmates, as well as the release of any prisoners awaiting trial for lack of cash bail, convicted for minor offenses and who are immunocompromised.

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Finally, the democratic socialists called for more support for youth.

“The effects of Covid-19 will have long term repercussions on economic inequality due to its interruption of critical periods of development for young people, the group wrote.”

Food must be given to kids who are missing school lunch, laptops must be provided for remote learning, and universal protection must be provided “to ensure everyone has access to the internet during crises,” the group wrote.

“It is our role as elected officials to support these efforts of workers to demand safer working conditions and paid leave, as well as the efforts of community members to provide mutual aid to their neighbors,” they said. “This is only the beginning—because we can’t just go back to the broken system that brought us here.”

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