Ghana Diaspora Public Affairs Collective (GHPAC) extends the following statement regarding the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act ("HEROES Act"):
This week the United States Congress failed to help the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic when the U.S. Senate failed to advance a bill that meets the needs of the most impacted members of our country.
We support the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, which was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives to shore up funds and enact policies supporting essential workers and the millions of Americans affected by the global pandemic.
The expansion of resources and relief efforts include: providing financial resources to state and local governments, Medicaid programs, small businesses, unemployment insurance, food security, and the postal service. We expect policymakers to achieve a reasonable negotiation to help hard-working Americans in these dire times.
Like many Americans, the Ghanaian community in the U.S. is not exempt from the COVID-19 crisis. We feel the overwhelming stress and the risk of transferring the contagion to their loved ones, all while trying to make ends meet. The Act provides financial relief in critical areas that would strengthen public hospitals and the public health care system by assisting health care employers with developing and implementing infectious disease exposure control plans. Ghanaians are essential workers and are very active in the health care industry, especially as nurses, personal care aides, and nursing assistants. Ghanaians are included in 27.5% of all Black immigrant workers in the U.S. - more than 750,000 - who work in the healthcare sector.
Additionally, essential workers include frontline workers in other key industries like food and service & hospitality, and leisure. Our community has been contributing to the success and business continuity of these industries during these dire times. Ghanaians are included in 23% of immigrants in the U.S. who work in the food and service industry, as well as 20% of immigrants in the U.S. who work in hospitality and leisure.
Accordingly, the HEROES Act 2 will establish a fund to award grants for employers to provide pandemic premium pay for all essential workers.
As the Ghanaian community living in the U.S. attempts to keep their families safe and healthy, we are in support of the proposal to provide funding and establish requirements for increased COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, as well as eliminating cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatments. It cannot be ignored that there is a looming responsibility on families to ensure that their quality of life essentials is solvent. We hope that Congress will consider this as they continue to deliberate.
Lastly, for Ghanaian American business owners, the HEROES Act would expand the Paycheck Protection Program, providing loans and grants to small businesses and nonprofit organizations. As families continue to stretch the household purse, the HEROES ACT would extend and expand the moratorium on certain evictions and foreclosures.
Given that the enhanced unemployment insurance has expired, fears of the eviction, and economic instability loom, the GHPAC calls on/urges the Senate to take action on this bill to support the hard-working essential workers during this difficult time in our country.
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