10 Ways to Take Action to Protect the Human Rights of All People in the COVID-19 Pandemic…All While Physical Distancing

By Rebecca Ma, Amnesty International USA Campaigner

We are living in uncertain and unsettling times. New developments around COVID-19 seem to break the news every hour. We’re concerned and thinking of our loved ones, our neighbors, and our communities, but have to take care of them and ourselves by physically distancing ourselves from each other.

Now, as we watch the U.S. government address the public health and humanitarian challenges presented by the pandemic, we’re seeing groups of people abandoned, left behind, and endangered:

Two weeks ago, the U.S. announced the closure of its borders, effectively banning people seeking safety here.

In immigration detention facilities, staff and detainees have tested positive for COVID-19. Yet Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) won’t release individuals and families from its crowded facilities.

We are seeing a similar situation unfold in prisons and jails. Staff and incarcerated individuals have tested positive and need hospitalization, while health care supplies, systems, and access remain inadequate in these complexes.

Communities across the U.S. are at risk of increased gun violence, with gun sales skyrocketing, hate and xenophobia are on the rise, domestic violence survivors trapped with their abusers, and millions of children stuck at home with unlocked guns. President Trump responded by advising states to include gun stores on the list of essential businesses that stay open.

On the list of nonessential services? Abortion clinics. Last week, states including Texas, Mississippi and Ohio restricted access to abortion and reproductive rights, using the COVID-19 pandemic as justification.

Other groups of people — including those living in poverty, in the gig or service economy and other insecure or informal employment, persons with disabilities, and Indigenous People, among others — also face additional challenges in accessing care and have been left out of the equation in the U.S.’ response to the pandemic.

No one should be treated as an afterthought.

Ensuring the human rights to safety, health, and security — among others — of all people must be at the center of all stages of this crisis — prevention, preparedness, containment, and treatment.

It’s more important than ever, as people across the world collectively look after one another, that we prioritize the human rights of all people.

How can we do this in the age of physical distancing?

Here are ten simple actions you can take from home, that could have a powerful and profound impact on the human rights of millions of people:

We’re taking our role as a watchdog for human rights seriously, so make sure to follow and share our website for new developments and actions to take.

We may be physically distant at the moment, but if there’s anything this crisis has shown us, it’s how interconnected we all are.

Now is the time to look out for one another.

Now is the time to prioritize human rights.

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