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PC(USA) Washington Office calls for domestic, international COVID-19 advocacy

Capitol Hill ministry calling on Congress to protect U.S. workers, lift sanctions in Latin America

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

The Office of Public Witness is urging Presbyterians to call on Congress to protect U.S. workers and lift sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela as the nation continues to endure the COVID-19 pandemic. (Contributed photo)

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness (OPW) is calling on people to contact their congressional representatives about domestic and international issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Worker health is public health — and worker health is in crisis as we face the coronavirus pandemic,” a Monday-morning alert from the Capitol Hill-based ministry reads. “Unfortunately, critical provisions to protect health care and other frontline workers did not make it into the coronavirus response laws enacted thus far. We need your help to fix that.”

The call is specifically for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard for health care workers on the frontlines of care for people with COVID-19, as well as people in service industries.

“It’s unacceptable that the federal government is failing to ensure the safety of essential workers who are most at risk, including health care workers and emergency responders; grocery, delivery, warehouse, factory, home care, transportation, and sanitation workers; and other frontline workers,” the alert reads.

It urges Presbyterians and other people concerned with this issue to contact congressional representatives and provides contact information. Over the weekend, OPW released a similar call to lift sanctions on two Latin American nations to aid in the fight against COVID-19.

Despite a strong health care system in Cuba, the alert says increased sanctions against the island nation have diminished the nation’s ability to respond to COVID-19. Similarly, the alert says sanctions have left Venezuela short on medical supplies, making the South American nation vulnerable to a rapid spread of the disease.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights recently called for sectoral sanctions to be reduced or suspended,” the alert reads. “During this crisis, the world must come together to effectively fight it. Any hindering of the medical efforts in one country increases the risk for the entire globe.”

The office calls for advocacy to help “the most vulnerable get the medical care and equipment they need.”

Previously, OPW issued a call for an easing of sanctions on Iran to battle COVID-19. Thus far, the administration of President Donald Trump has maintained a policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran and resisted calls to lift sanctions.

The Office of Public Witness is one of the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

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