April 20, 2020

Dear Redding City Council members,
I am writing in regard to the Redding Economic Stimulus to explain an urgent need in your community in relation to the pandemic.
In home support service workers/caregivers do not have any personal protective gear; we protect and care for the most vulnerable portion of the population. Many of us have several clients which means that we go to more than 2 or 3 homes per day not including our own home. There are approximately 400,000 IHSS caregivers statewide. Some are in care facilities, some are in-home workers. The threat of contamination from IHSS workers is a palpable fact not fiction. Governor Gavin Newsom promised us PPE over a month ago in his briefings to the public.
On a conference call last Friday April 17th, 2020 with SEIU 2015 he stated that we still do not have a supply, anticipating a supply sometime in the next 2 weeks and that once a supply is obtained they would send 250,000 units to the IHSS system. A unit according to Newsom is one pair of gloves and one mask. Do the math: 400,000 – 250,000 = 150,000 shortfall not to mention it’s only one pair of gloves and one mask. No hand sanitizer or other sanitizing supplies while doing our job. We are low wage earners; $13.60 per hour is not enough to buy these supplies for ourselves. We also do not get hazard pay.
Workers are having to stand in lines like the great depression before stores open to gain possible access to resources: hand sanitizer, gloves, paper towels, baby wipes, Lysol or Clorox wipes, antibacterial soaps, rubbing alcohol, etc.
My sister works at Wal-Mart and she is given a face mask everyday. How is it that a private company can do this but the government cannot?!
IHSS workers are currently not being given priority for testing like other healthcare workers. If one IHSS worker gets ill with COVID-19 that means approximately 4 households will be exposed. Any 1 of those 4 households can contain numerous people. Not all IHSS recipients live alone; many live with family that cannot care for them. If we are not protected we cannot protect the most vulnerable portion of society. Hospitals will be overrun and ventilators will become unavailable. I do not have the Shasta County numbers but it scares me to death that we are not being looked at or acknowledged for our part in protecting the hospital system from collapse. I was personally told by Public Authority that their supplier is Office Depot and all supplies were being redirected to the hospitals by the government. I was personally told by Health and Human Services Staff (name can be supplied if asked) to buy cheap vodka and use it to clean my clients homes and myself with it. As well as taking a shot for myself while working for good measure. Even if I took this advice, which I will not, I am appalled by the thought that someone would pour vodka on someones counters, belongings, or body for the purpose of sanitizing it. The supply chain is broken.
I contacted Redding Fashion Alliance for handmade face-masks and I am unable to request such an order on behalf of Shasta County or Public Authority. I have contacted Denny Bar, a distillery north of here because they are making sanitizer but they want $125.00 per gallon and once again I cannot buy these items on behalf of a County or State organization.
Megan Dahle’s office is trying to work with Cal OES to no success. I have sent them an email with all the contact information for the Redding Fashion Alliance and Denny Bar. None of the items I have mentioned can be purchased online so that the traffic footprint in stores can remain low. In one 48 hour period I had gone to 8 stores in an attempt to find PPE and other items for myself and my clients who are terrified to leave their homes or let anyone including caregivers inside because we are not protected.
Please do not fail us the way the state and federal government has in our greatest time of need. I am writing to find out what you are going to do to protect us and take these issues to the state? Sincerely,
Amber Bush
Redding, CA