COMMUNITY IS THE CURE
NORTH DAKOTA COVID-19 RESPONSE
Emergency Assistance for Working Families
Paid Family and Medical Leave
Working people should not lose their income due to being sick or taking care of a loved one who is sick. We urge lawmakers to immediately draft legislation that would provide for at least eight weeks of Paid Family Medical Leave, filling in the gaps for North Dakota workers ineligible under the Federal legislation.
Lawmakers should immediately make emergency changes to Unemployment Insurance, such as eliminating the waiting week, extending and expanding benefits, and exempting benefits from taxes.
Workers on the front lines of this pandemic, such as healthcare workers, delivery drivers, service/retail workers, and personal care assistants are putting themselves in harms way to make sure we get the care and provisions we need and should be guaranteed all necessary safety equipment and follow public health best practices.
These same frontline workers deserve to be compensated for their increased risk and sacrifices, including hazard pay and access to childcare.
Protecting Workers Exposed to COVID-19
As many North Dakotans adapt to working from home, others are at work every day on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. North Dakota’s workers are maintaining access to safe food and utilities, powering the manufacturing sector, and providing government services. All workers in critical industries, as deemed by the Department of Homeland Security, should be eligible for workers’ compensation if they contract COVID-19 on the job.
Personal Protective Equipment
COVID-19 has created an enormous need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for medical professionals. The state of North Dakota must invest in PPE for those on the front lines so they have the protection they need to remain healthy.
Stable Housing and Utilities
Eviction and Late Rent Penalty Freeze
To ensure that North Dakotans can stay in their homes during this pandemic, the state must enact a moratorium on evictions, foreclosures and late rent penalties. The financial impacts of social isolation will be devastating, and we need to have security of our homes until after the initial crisis has passed.
With many unable to meet rent and mortgage obligations due to COVID-19 displacement, credit scores should not be negatively impacted in these circumstances.
Food System Security
Credit Relief for Farmers and Ranchers
The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound impacts on the entire economy, and North Dakota’s farms and ranches are no exception. Many farmers and ranchers are finding it difficult to access credit and service existing credit. The state should pursue all avenues to provide credit relief to agricultural producers including interest rate buydowns, loan deferrals, forbearance and increased access to ag mediation.
Healthcare Access for All
Ensuring Access to Care
Stopping the spread of COVID-19 is critical to all North Dakotans. It is essential that North Dakota citizens have access to preventative services and treatment. All unemployed individuals should be deemed immediately eligible for Medicaid. The state of North Dakota should also cover all costs of COVID-19 treatment.
Expanded Access to Telehealth Services
With hospitals and clinics cancelling non-emergency appointments or moving appointments online, it is essential that every North Dakotan has access to telehealth services. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which threatens the wellness of even the most healthy, we must ensure ready access to medical professionals through telehealth service with discounted copays, coverage under Medicaid and expanded broadband service.
Reproductive and Sexual Health As Essential Healthcare
In many states where medical facilities are cancelling elective and 'non-essential' appointments, reproductive and sexual health services are considered non-essential. Sexual and reproductive healthcare is healthcare and must be considered essential by the state of North Dakota.
Election Protection and Reform
Expanded Vote By Mail Efforts
In this time of social distancing and isolation, in-person voting may threaten the health and safety of those around us exercising their constitutional right. Yet, elections are as important as ever. To protect both the right to vote and the safety of voters, the office of the Secretary of State must expand access to and disseminate information regarding mail voting for North Dakota's June primary and November general elections.
Criminal Justice Reform
Reduce the Number of People Coming into the Criminal Legal System
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, we need to minimize the number of new individuals entering state facilities. To do this, law enforcement officers should drastically limit the number of people they arrest by instead issuing citations or desk-tickets, prosecutors should ask for pretrial detention and carceral-based sentences only when absolutely necessary, and judges should keep courts open and running as much as possible while maintaining safe COVID-19 practices.
Reduce the Number of People Currently Incarcerated
COVID-19 can spread quickly and dangerously in close quarters and few institutions are as densely populated as prisons. Sheriffs and wardens need to reduce facility population as much as possible by identifying candidates for release while parole officers should eliminate technical (crimeless) rule violations to limit the number of people being incarcerated. A presumption of release for all people with parole hearings scheduled in the next two years should be granted. Finally, Governor Burgum should grant immediate commutations to anyone whose sentence would end in the next year, to anyone currently being held on a technical supervision violation, and to anyone identified by the CDC as particularly vulnerable whose sentence would end in the next two years.