Supervisor Fletcher and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez use COVID-19 press conference to make political statement
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – In what was billed as a press conference of “San Diego leaders to encourage immigrants and refugees to access COVID-19 resources to minimize spread of Coronavirus,” it quickly turned into a gathering of elected leaders taking swipes at the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic.
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, his wife Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, and City Council President Georgette Gomez gathered at the County Administration Center to “highlight government and healthcare resources immigrants can access to stay healthy and informed.” They were accompanied by Executive Director of ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, Norma Chavez-Peterson, and Executive Director and Founder of the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA).
Fletcher and Gomez responded to claims that illegal immigrants and refugees are fearful of seeking medical care for coronavirus with a statement saying, “We reject all suggestions that this virus originated with immigrants. All of San Diego needs to stay united to minimize spread of the coronavirus and no one should be afraid to seek the help they need.”
They also emphasized a claim that certain rhetoric from President Trump, calling the coronavirus the “China Virus” is stoking fear, and putting our Asian American community at risk. All of the speakers were highly critical of President Trump and his administration for using this term.
Wednesday, an ABC News reporter asked President Trump if calling COVID-19 the “China Virus” was racist. Trump directly responded saying, “It’s not racist at all. No, not at all. It comes from China. That’s why, it comes from China. I want to be accurate.”
The reporter pressed Trump asking, “You have no concerns about Chinese Americans in this country?” Trump answered, “I have a great love for all of the people from our country, but as you know, China tried to say at one point, maybe they stopped now, that it was caused by American soldiers. That can’t happen. It’s not going to happen. Not as long as I’m president. It comes from China.”
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez said she wanted to clear up some of the misinformation that is out there, and continued to speak about the ability of (illegal) immigrants to get tested for coronavirus at our testing centers amid the pandemic.
Earlier in the day Thursday, KUSI News conducted in interview with Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, who is urging Governor Gavin Newsom to suspend AB 5 during this crisis. He has support of independent contractors throughout California, Democrats and Republicans, who are stuck at home, unable to work, because of AB 5. Kiley says suspending AB 5 “would help people get through this crisis.”
We followed up on Kiley’s interview by asking the author of the bill, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, “with everybody out of work, will you help suspend AB 5?”
Gonzalez responded to the question saying, “the reasoning behind AB 5, is so every worker despite their field, has access to unemployment insurance, healthcare, paid sick days, the access to paid family leave, temporary disability, and workers comp. There is no time that those benefits have become more important than right now. The last thing we should do, when we see 80,000 people having to apply for unemployment insurance, is to take that away from people who just got their employment status. Or away from workers who are currently misclassified under AB 5, who can still file for unemployment insurance and get some sort of relief.”
Gonzalez continued, “I think it is ludicrous to make this into a political issue when it is clear, clear as day, that what we were trying to do was right. Workers, all workers, deserve the right to paid time off if they are sick, to minimum wage and overtime, to unemployment insurance when suddenly out of nowhere, their job goes away. What we’re trying to do today is not repeal AB 5, it’s to ensure that all of those workers who, and there are a lot of them, who are not protected by workplace protections also have relief. Those workers are also feeling the affect of the sudden downturn of this economy. And there is no program that helps them, we need to make sure we are helping everybody right now. But we need to rethink how we look at employment, and how we ensure that everybody in these times has had an employer put into these funds so they can access them when they need them the most.”