House Response to COVID-19 Is First Step to Address Needs of People with Low Incomes

This statement can be attributed to Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy

Washington, DC, March 12, 2020—The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for moving swiftly to address the pending impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act would be a critical first step to ensuring that individuals and families with low incomes—those who may be most severely affected by the current crisis—get the health, nutrition, and other supports they so urgently need. The provisions included in the bill that are essential to people with low incomes are 14 days of emergency paid sick days and an ongoing permanent right to accrue seven days of paid sick days a year, along with up to 90 days of paid family and medical leave for people who face caregiving needs related to the COVID-19 outbreak. These supports are tremendously important for millions of workers in low-wage jobs who risk losing income or their job to stay home and care for themselves or a sick family member—a choice that threatens their own health and that of their larger community.

Beyond these immediate steps, Congress should move swiftly to address the complete economic and public health needs of the country as it faces cumulative impacts from the COVID-19 outbreak and to fully protect people with low incomes. The next steps that policymakers should take include further shoring up health, nutrition, and income supports for individuals and families, stabilizing states and communities that are on the front lines, and providing additional financial support to employers and employees in low-wage industries, including child care providers, that are at risk of remaining economically stable.

That’s just a start, though, since the COVID-19 outbreak is exposing the extent to which people with low incomes and people of color—even before the crisis—have been most affected by the failures of the health system and the economy, and they should be our top priority for investments.

CLASP’s initial recommendations related to the coronavirus public health crisis that threatens the economic security of people with low incomes can be found here.