Fred Rogers, the beloved host of the children’s television show “Mister Rogers Neighborhood,” once encouraged his viewers to look for the helpers in times of crisis. “You will always find people who are helping,” he said. Nearly 20 years after his passing, those words ring truer than ever as our community comes together to fight the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.
America hasn’t been hit with a pandemic of this size and scope in more than a century, and we’re all understandably concerned and frightened. Though we have a long way to go to overcome this crisis, we can take heart in the amount of good folks in our community, across America, and around the world, who have stepped up to help.
You certainly don’t need to look far to find them. They’re the health care workers tirelessly fighting this virus and caring for the sick; the supermarket employees making sure our kitchens are stocked; the teachers who remain committed to educating their students despite school closures; the sanitation workers who keep our community clean; the kind folks who pick up provisions for their elderly or immunocompromised neighbors; and so many more.
Hoosiers of all stripes have stepped up to the plate and remain committed to fighting this virus together. Through this challenge, it has become even clearer that we all have a role to play in keeping our society strong and prosperous, and we all should be respected for that work that we do.
But sadly, many who occupy key roles that help us combat this pandemic are struggling to pay the bills in this time of need. This is unconscionable. Earlier this month, Congress passed and the president signed into law the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” a relief package to provide important provisions like paid sick leave and expanded food security programs to help millions weather this storm.
But the truth is, these types of safeguards should have been in place for all American workers years ago. COVID-19 has not only further revealed the critical importance of working families, but also how close many are to financial ruin. Even before this pandemic, too many hard-working Americans slipped into bankruptcy, foreclosure and poverty, just by missing a paycheck or two.
Now, millions face similar circumstances at the same time, which makes the urgent need for structural change clearer than ever. This pandemic will eventually pass, but when it does, we can’t forget these lessons it has taught us.
I will continue working tirelessly in Congress to permanently put in place common-sense policies that give Americans a helping hand — things like paid sick leave for every worker, paid maternity and paternity leave, relief from student loan debt and much more. It’s vital that we put these reforms in place, so that America is better prepared to weather future crises.
For now, we must remain united to come through the crisis we are currently facing. That means following the guidance of trusted public health officials, staying home as much as we can, supporting the most vulnerable and keeping our spirits up.
So much is uncertain, but what we know for sure is that we will beat this pandemic thanks to the helpers all around us. They deserve appreciation, respect and bold action to better support them and their families – now and in the future.
If you or a loved one has questions about COVID-19 or need assistance during this difficult time, please don’t hesitate to call my Indianapolis office at 317-283-6516. We will do our best to help, as well as direct you to the appropriate resources that are available.
We’re all in this together.
Rep. Carson represents the 7th District of Indiana. He is a Member of the Congressional Black Caucus and one of three Muslims in Congress. Rep. Carson sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, where he is chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation. Contact Rep. Carson at carson.house.gov/contact.