EAST FALLS NOW ARTICLE: COVID-19 Lessons Learned Already!

On March 6th the commonwealth of Pennsylvania confirmed the first two cases of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

As of this writing over 33,000 cases have been confirmed in our state. The lessons to be learned from this pandemic will continue to be identified and evaluated for months and months to come.

Let me share a few of the lessons I have identified that can be remedied by the members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate, if the political will is there.

Working and learning remotely were immediate responses to the county by county stay at home orders and then subsequently the statewide stay at home order issued by the Governor. It became evident very quickly that using the Internet, and specifically having access to high speed Internet (AKA broadband), was a must.  It should make no difference if you live in an urban/suburban area or a rural area; every citizen needs access to affordable highspeed Internet.

The Internet should be treated like any other utility – heat, electricity, water. Can you imagine not having access to those utilities because the free market deemed it inopportune to serve all citizens, and at a controlled price point?

Broadband has been instrumental in delivering telemedicine. Telemedicine has proved successful to ensure that physicians, nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants can continue to provide medical care to their patients.

Healthcare is another policy area that should be changed.  Insurance driven products place our citizens at the behest of insurers as to what care is covered and if there is cost sharing that will be enforced.  Healthcare is primarily provided via employers, and this pandemic has highlighted at least two major problems with the current system.  First, if the employer has been deemed non-essential and can no longer provide healthcare coverage, that has left citizens scrambling.  Second, due to variations in insurance policies, an individual’s coverage can vary greatly, and their financial exposure can vary greatly at a time of economic uncertainty.  I look forward to reintroducing my HB1688, The Pennsylvania Healthcare Plan, a single payer, Medicare for All, healthcare plan.

For the balance of this school year, remote learning for basic education is dependent on having the tools to obtain an education remotely (computers, broadband, and teachers familiar with how to teach remotely). This pandemic has emphasized the need for all schools to be equipped with computers in sufficient quantities for children to use and learn  on while  in school, and then if a future similar situation were to occur, computers would be in place to deploy for home use.

Citizens that experience poverty have been particularly hard hit.  If we ensured a sustainable wage, citizens could, perhaps, save a few dollars for unanticipated events, such as being unexpectedly unemployed.

My commitment is to continue to advocate for state policies that will level the playing field for citizens and not create barriers to education, employment, and healthcare.  These policies must be a priority.

The more robust our education system, the better prepared our workforce.  The better prepared our workforce, the more financially independent our citizens.   The more financially independent citizens are, the better prepared for life’s hiccups.  I do not consider this pandemic a hiccup- it is a full-fledged disaster.  If we do not take heed of these lessons learned, and respond accordingly, history may indeed repeat itself and our community will not be a better place for the experience.

Citizens have in their hands the power to get better policies legislated at the federal, state and local levels of government.

That power is in the power of the vote! We vote twice a year- a primary election in the spring and a general election in the fall.   Historically, voter turnout would indicate that many citizens are either unaware of this power they hold or, for reasons beyond my comprehension, are not interested in using said power.

If you are concerned about going to the polls on June 2, I strongly urge you to vote from home by requesting a mail-in ballot.

www.votespa.com is the website where you can apply online to have the ballot mailed to you. You are also most welcome to contact my office at 215-482-8726 and we will mail you the application.  The deadline to request the ballot is May 26th.  Do not delay or procrastinate.