COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on our daily lives and our economy. The calls I have taken from those who are unemployed are heartbreaking – and they are only the tip of the iceberg. Many are struggling to make ends meet, turning to government for help in ways they have never needed to before at a time when local, state and federal budgets are under significant strain.
As a social worker, community activist and experienced legislator, I understand that we can’t meet the demands of this difficult time and build a healthy future working in separate silos. We need to come together to make difficult decisions. We need to balance our economic concerns with maintaining and supporting public health. I will continue to listen to business and economic leaders as well as public health experts so that I can provide informed leadership to our community.
Healthcare decisions are impacting every aspect of our lives. In order to make sound decisions about our health, we need reliable public health information, and we need to be able to protect our families’ health without fearing that we will lose our jobs or our homes.
The pandemic is making clear the need for access to affordable healthcare, including mental health services, as we see a spike in substance abuse and suicide. As a social worker and as a founding member and co-chair of Fairfield CARES Community Coalition, I have led efforts on opioid, tobacco, and gun violence prevention in both the legislature and the community.
The pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color. It has devastated workers and residents in senior care facilities. These disparities are unacceptable. We are recognizing that our personal health and the health of our loved ones depends upon the health of the community.
As areas of the world shut down to prevent the spread of Covid-19, we saw the positive impact of reducing pollution for even a short time. Connecticut and Fairfield have been leaders in developing and supporting clean air and renewable energy. Now, as our country becomes more aware of the fragility of our environment, we need to secure our progress and build for the future.
We need to support renewable energy, sustainable growth and green construction, and support job training for those who must move from one labor force to another. We need to make sure that the environmental progress we enjoy in our town and state leaves no community behind.