AFSCME members from around the country recently convened a press call to share stories about those members of the community struggling with and recovering from COVID-19. The gathering was led by the union’s President, Lee Saunders, and DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido and OCSEA President Chris Mabe.

Garrido shared that 3,000 members of DC 37 have contracted the virus, 142 have died from it, and 358 EMTS – approximately 10% of his sector’s workforce – are currently quarantined.

Carmen De Leon, a respiratory therapist, and Vincent Variale, a Fire Department of New York EMS lieutenant also spoke of their experiences contracting the virus and coping with the ways in which it disrupted their lives.

“We need Congress to immediately pass an aid package that will maintain services our communities need in the short-term and put us on a path to keep our communities strong for the long-term,” said Garrido. “None of these folks deserve to be laid off, have their hours cut or be furloughed or lose their health care because Washington failed to act. It would be a disgrace.”

Read more about the experiences of these AFSCME members and the importance of new congressional aid for public service employees here.