Survivors Launch 50 State Delegations to Call for Stronger Safety Measures, Support Funds for Long-Haulers and More Than 120,000 Children Who Lost Caregivers
A Year After the National COVID Remembrance on National Mall, COVID Survivors Placed Empty Chairs at Statehouses to Honor the More Than 700,000 Killed and Millions Whose Lives are Forever Changed by COVID
NEW YORK –– Throughout the week of October 1-7, members of COVID Survivors for Change in all 50 states took action to call on their state governments to address the gaps in prevention measures and resources that allow the pandemic to continue to devastate families. A year after the National COVID-19 Remembrance in Washington D.C, hundreds of survivors rallied for safe returns to schools, met with lawmakers to demand American Rescue Plan resources for long-haulers and surviving children, and gathered in state capitals to memorialize the millions impacted by COVID.
As part of the COVID Survivors Week of Action, survivors in all 50 states set out empty chairs to honor Covid victims at their statehouses and launched new survivor-led delegations demanding stronger COVID prevention measures, greater support for long-haulers and those who lost loved ones, and the formation of a bipartisan commission to prevent future pandemics. In the last week, survivors called, wrote, and connected with elected officials including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, Georgia Senator Jon Ossof, Georgia Rep. David Scott, Georgia Rep. Rick Allen, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer and Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, to push for initiatives to support COVID-19 survivors. More than 300 letters were sent all across the country by more than 100 state delegates.
“My dad would be so proud to see the advocacy and community that’s developed in his honor – I only wish he didn’t have to sacrifice his life for it,” said Tanya Washington, a Georgia-based member of COVID Survivors for Change whose vaccinated father died from COVID-19 after contracting it from a coworker. “Survivors and families like my own are still grieving, and need our lawmakers to understand that their refusal to act has changed our lives forever. In spite of our grief, we’re speaking out to make sure that our loved ones’ deaths weren’t in vain.”
“A year ago, I never would’ve imagined I’d be using my voice to help other survivors,” said Maya McNulty, a New York-based member of COVID Survivors for Change who battled COVID in March of 2020, was hospitalized for 69 days and still struggles severely with long haul symptoms. “As a result of contracting long haul COVID, this year I’ve had to re-learn how to walk, talk and eat on my own again. This week of action, I demanded that lawmakers provide financial support to those of us struggling with long COVID, and put more recovery resources in place. For long-haulers like me, this support would mean that I finally could have a piece of my life and independence back.”
“Almost every American knows someone who’s been impacted by COVID-19,” said Chris Kocher, Executive Director of COVID Survivors for Change. “This virus has disproportionately affected people of color and frontline workers, and that’s why it’s important that every single legislator understands that for some people, there is no return to ‘normal.’ As people continue to die from COVID and millions more struggle with long haul symptoms, there are actions that must be taken to make sure we’re all protected. That’s why we’re pushing so hard to be heard.”
The COVID Survivors Week of Action follows nationwide marches led by COVID survivors in August, for support for those who are still struggling with the lasting effects of the virus and in remembrance of the nearly 700,000 killed. The flagship march took place across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, and more than 30 others took place in Atlanta, GA, Phoenix, AZ, and cities across the country.
ABOUT COVID SURVIVORS FOR CHANGE
COVID Survivors for Change is a nationwide community of Americans fighting for a stronger pandemic response to save the lives of others. We advocate for more support for COVID survivors, to remember those who have died, and for public health measures that will prevent future pandemics. We know that so much of this pandemic was preventable and we are committed to working together to keep families safe. We do this by offering trauma-informed programs and support groups, sharing and amplifying survivor stories, and impacting legislative and cultural change. For more information, please visit: COVIDsurvivorsforchange.org.