Opinion: More Californians Should Know About Lifesaving COVID Meds
Doug Moore | California Black Media
While I would like nothing more than to put the pandemic in the rearview mirror, I’ve accepted the fact that COVID-19 is still a part of our lives. We’re a far cry from where we were in the summer of 2020 – we now know what works to keep us safe and how to mitigate the worst of the virus. Tools like COVID-19 medications can help us keep the worst of the virus at bay, if only more people knew about them.
In my role as the Executive Director of UDW Homecare Providers Union/AFSCME Local 3930, a union fighting for the rights of domestic care workers, I’ve seen COVID-19 have a disproportionate impact on our members. Many come from vulnerable communities, and the fact that they were often given little to no protection and did not qualify as essential workers heightened the impact of the pandemic on them. Vaccines were essential in establishing safe homecare environments as the pandemic raged on. But domestic workers were (and still are) entering potentially dangerous settings every day, often without access to vital PPE, and we needed to find ways to keep themselves safe, even when they did test positive. COVID-19 medications have helped bridge that gap.
It can be hard to dodge COVID-19 even when we take precautions to stay safe, especially for workers whose workplaces are other people’s homes. Fortunately, medications that treat COVID-19 became available in 2021. They are safe and effective at stopping the virus from multiplying in the body and scientific evidence shows that taking COVID-19 medications within the first week of testing positive can lower the rate of serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 by half or more.
COVID-19 medications can mean the difference between life and death. That’s why I’ve been advocating tirelessly to make sure that domestic workers are getting vaccinated and tested, and that they’re aware of and can easily access COVID-19 medications if they test positive. Even though medications have been free and available, regardless of insurance or citizenship status, for over a year. Many people are surprised when they find out that they’re actually eligible for these medications, when in fact, they’re recommended for most adults.
At UDW Homecare Providers Union/AFSCME Local 3930, we’ve launched initiatives to educate and empower our workers – including resource fairs, clinics, and food drives – that provide information about and access to these medications. Our meetings have been vital times for us to spend time with the community and spread relevant treatment information. These member-centered, community-driven initiatives have created a united front against COVID-19 among the domestic worker community – allowing the people I represent to stay safe, protect their families, and continue their work helping others.
The public at large can benefit from COVID-19 medications, not just our union’s domestic workers, especially as life returns to a new normal. As we enjoy summer by traveling, attending events, and spending time with friends and family, it’s inevitable that people will continue to test positive for COVID-19. But the key is understanding how to move forward when you test positive. So, let’s continue doing the things that we love, worry-free, by normalizing testing and treating COVID-19.
About the Author
Doug Moore is Executive Director of UDW Homecare Providers Union/AFSCME Local 3930, a union that advocates for domestic care workers and their communities.