Thursday, April 9, 2020

Trump Must Provide PPE to Return Transit and Enable Lowcountry Covid-19 Recovery

Trump Must Enable South Carolina to Return to a Transit Enabled Lowcountry Recovery.

April 9, 2020- For Immediate Release
For more information or comment call WJ Hamilton, Executive Director of Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit, (843) 870-5299 or Trump on PPE & Transit

Charleston, North Charleston, Summerville, Lincolnville and Mount Pleasant, SC- Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit, Joins National Challenge to President Trump to compel him to make sure basic safety supplies and equipment are available to confront the Covid 19 epidemic to enable the return of fully functional transit and our local economy.

Mask Now Needed for Lowcountry Drivers and Transit Riders. President must resolve national shortage.

The Covid-19 epidemic has crippled public transit operations and the people who depend on them across the SC Lowcountry.  CARTA continues in limited operation on a modified Sunday schedule but much of the economically productive activity it once linked is shut down. One bus driver in Detroit has already died. Many others are ill. Tim Liszewski a SC Activist who worked with us as part of the SC Progressive Network passed away last week.
Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit has joined the Labor Network for Sustainability’s national effort to compel President Trump to fulfil his Constitutional duty to take the steps necessary to obtain the basic safety equipment and supplies needed to support our healthcare workers, first responders and transit operators and lay the foundation for a national recovery. Over fifty other organizations are involved.  The four page letter to the President, Vice President and other national leaders can now be read online.

The letter says in part, “Nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals are treating patients without the basic protection and equipment they need to do their jobs. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that we have just 1 percent of the N-95 respirators and surgical masks needed.1 A US Conference of Mayors survey found that an alarming 91% of cities lack the N-95 respirators needed for first responders and medical personnel, and 88% lack other necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).”
While no one should be making unnecessary trips now, millions of people depend on transit to make their lives work. Many are disabled, elderly and don’t earn the pay necessary to pay the overhead of maintaining and parking an automobile. Downtown Charleston’s Tourism economy, medical complex and educational institutions cannot function without CARTA Transit. CARTA has just issued a request for local transit riders to wear masks while on board.Here in the Lowcountry our tourism sector is shut down. Our Food and Beverage Sector is on life support. Many of those workers here must ride transit. We have been forced to postpone or cancel the Spoleto Festival, house tours, Cooper River Bridge Run and Azealia Festival with the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars.

 Suffers Infected and ImmobileThe Low country

For the Lowcountry to return to work and our local economy recover until a vaccine is fully deployed over a year from now, we must have a system of supply, testing, isolation, treatment, tracing and medical treatment in place which contains the virus. Without this Transit is impossible. For those who dismiss transit, it may help to understand that tourism, sports, schools, farmer’s markets and entertainment will not be possible either. A shared Uber used by 20 people in the last eight hours you do not see is not safer than a bus which is professionally decontaminated daily driven by a professionally trained driver with a mask where you see everyone on board.

No return to a life which is economically sustainable is possible without these supplies and equipment, first to our hospitals and first responders, to our transit operators and now, as CARTA has requested, to regular bus riders.

Like a trip on CARTA transit, the journey back to national recovery takes careful planning and the use of limited resources. We cannot charge back into the workplace without protection and a plan without inviting a full scale return of the virus and the possible infection of the millions who have sacrificed their income and freedom by staying at home to contain the spread. The estimates being promoted assume effective social distancing and containment measures leading to a limited, carefully monitored return to work and community. A careless drunkards walk through more waves of infection towards a herd immunity where 80% of the population has survived infection would mean the death of millions of Americans.

The President must act to supply our front line workers in this epidemic here in the Lowcountry and across the nation with the supplies and equipment they need. Local and state officials must begin planning the system of education, supply, monitoring, testing, isolation and treatment which will support limited and increasing levels of return to work and economic productivity.  For CARTA this will have to include complete protection of bus operators, masks and vehicle decontamination for riders and a local environment where limited, necessary transit travel is safe.

A Call for National Action on PPE Reported Across the Nation

The Network’s letter and Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit support is being reported across the nation, appearing first in the national media outlet the Hill in an article entitled Unions push White House for more protective equipment for essential workers. The Whitehouse has not yet returned comment.
We have also called the leaders of our nation and community to look beyond this epidemic to making construction of our Bus Rapid Transit system part of the national recover effort. Our future should be free both of Covid 19 sickness and the epidemic of automobile traffic. We are circulating an online petition now asking local, state and national leadership to include funding completion and operation of the Lowcountry Rapid Transit System in the future infrastructure recover bill.

Transit riders know that live is a shared journey. There are good weeks with Friday afternoons where we celebrate a return to family waiting on the bus home at the Mary Street Transit Center. There are tough days where we suffer, waiting in the rain for buses which are snarled in accident fractured traffic on Johnny Dodds Blvd. in Mount Pleasant. We are smart enough and tough enough to complete those trips if we have a plan for going forward as a community and a nation.


#United4Workers #PPEnow #chsnews #chstrfc #bfltransit #ridecarta

For more information and comment contact:
For more information or comment call WJ Hamilton, Attorney, Executive Director of Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit, (843) 870-5299 or Trump on PPE & Transit

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