Pashinski, House Democrats put Pennsylvanians’ health and safety first
WILKES-BARRE, April 17 – State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, is calling for the state legislature to stop playing political games and to focus on policies that put the health and safety of Pennsylvanians first.
“At a time when people are dying every day, while doctors, nurses and first responders are struggling to get proper PPE, our state legislature’s sole focus should be on supporting our frontline heroes and stopping this pandemic,” Pashinski said. “Instead, the Republican proposals forced through the legislature this week along party-lines would rush Pennsylvanians back to work just when the curve is beginning to flatten.”
Pashinski said many of the same legislators voting to send Pennsylvanians to work in potentially dangerous working conditions without proper personal protective equipment cast those votes remotely or while wearing PPE themselves. While he agrees the state needs to be ready to reopen the economy, Pashinski said the legislature must put the lives of Pennsylvanians first when making these important decisions.
“Let me be clear: my colleagues and I want businesses to reopen,” Pashinski said. “We want life to return to as close to normal as possible, as soon as possible. But that will not happen if we ignore the arithmetic and our health care experts by prematurely reopening large swaths of our society right when we are turning the tide. Instead, we can and should reopen as soon as the statistics demonstrate that cases are declining, and our medical personnel and our hospitals can appropriately take care of all sick people no matter their health conditions. Additionally, the sooner we get as many people tested as possible to demonstrate we have a healthy population, the sooner we can restart our businesses and our lives.”
Neither Republican proposal addresses the severe shortage of testing materials in Pennsylvania or PPE needed for frontline workers or those who would be forced back to work if the bills become law. Instead, Republicans ignored the advice of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control, and U.S. Surgeon General and passed the two bills, he said.
“At this time, about 99 out of 100 Pennsylvanians have not been tested,” Pashinski said. “Meanwhile, in Luzerne County we have one of the highest proportions of our ventilators in use of anywhere in the state – meaning we need to keep cases down to be able to treat severe cases. I, and my colleagues, are not willing to sacrifice the lives of our constituents in a misguided attempt to force businesses to open in the middle of a pandemic.”
Pashinski said Republicans rejected House Democrats’ amendments that would have provided protections for the workers who would be forced back. These protections included requiring all reopened businesses to: strictly follow CDC guidelines and federal regulations for safe, clean workspaces; pay all essential workers at least $15 per hour; issue personal protective gear to all workers at the start of each shift; and offer paid sick leave, since workers need to heal at home to not infect fellow workers on the job.
“I believe we are almost there when it comes to beginning to reopen the economy – let’s not mess it up and have to start all over again,” Pashinski said. “Let’s continue to support our heroes on the frontlines of this pandemic by following the advice of the same people who have led us to start bending the curve. Our frontline doctors, nurses, and health care providers are fighting this war to save lives and protect all of us while putting their own lives on the line. They, along with our grocery store workers, truck drivers, bus drivers, farmers and producers are our army in this war, and we must stand behind them to win. Until there is much more testing and a cure or vaccine, our lives will not be the same – but working together we will defeat this killer.”
For the most up-to-date information on the COVID-19 coronavirus in Pennsylvania, including information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, please visit www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/.