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A Policy Manifesto For Paying, Protecting, And Empowering Essential Workers

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, political leaders in Washington, D.C. have voiced their enthusiastic commitment to support the country’s essential workers. President Joe BidenVice President Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have each emphasized that it isn’t enough just to praise essential workers—we must pay and protect them as well. But one

Tony Powell is one of the 50 million essential workers who continues to risk his well-being on the COVID-19 frontlines. Powell works as a unit secretary at a hospital in the southeast Washington, D.C. neighborhood where he grew up—a community that COVID-19 has hit hard. In his more than 40 years at the hospital, he has never experienced anything like the pandemic.

“It is a heavy load to carry,” Powell told us in an interview last week. “Sometimes it feels like you are carrying a car up a mountain. You can’t put yourself in a bubble when you see people around you dying. I see people I went to school with and grew up with. They’ll come in and just like that, they are gone. It is really mind blowing that you can be here today and gone tomorrow.”

Read more from Brookings here>>>