Joe Biden, the presumptive democratic nominee for president, held a virtual town hall, and a Broward state representative moderated the former vice president’s chat with front line workers of the coronavirus pandemic.
State Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-Broward County, moderated Biden’s virtual town hall on Wednesday. Jones would introduced various front line workers with questions for the democratic nominee for president on how he would respond to the pandemic if he was in office.
The questions did not necessarily come from doctors and nurses, but other essential workers like bus drivers and grocery clerks. Most of the questions centered around how Biden would protect them.
“We’re lost without you, and that’s not an exaggeration,” Biden said. “We’re lost without all of you. All across the nation, it’s so often our lowest paid workers who have to step up during this crisis and crisis like this. You’re putting yourselves on the line every single day, and you’re sacrificing so much under dire circumstances to do your job, and you’re doing it not just for just yourself, but for all of us, and you’re essential to our society.”
Biden also talked about the daily hardships front line workers face fighting the coronavirus pandemic, saying the stresses on some of the essential workers who aren’t in healthcare need the protection of strong unions to ensure their safety.
Safaa Elzakzoky works at a meat packing plant in Pennsylvania and lost a coworker to COVID-19.
“We lost a coworker at my plant because there’s no regulation to protect me,” she said. “We can’t work safely to give people the meat we need to eat.”
“Your health is critical because, again, it’s not the morally right thing to do,” Biden told Elzakzoky. “If something happens to your team, then guess what happens? There is no food. There is no meat. Just like if we don’t protect our nurses, there’s no one to take care of us. You’re critical in the chain, and we gotta get about doing it. If you get sick and the system breaks down, where are they going to get their food? How will supplies get around? And they’re just beginning to realize that. Now, it’s in the whole nation’s direct interest to keep you healthy and safe.”
Biden has said President Donald Trump’s administration is not taking drastic enough steps to protect these workers, and he would have federal agencies release temporary standards that all essential businesses must follow and take whatever steps necessary to keep them safe.
However, Trump insists, despite calls from health experts and business leaders who want more coronavirus testing, several states will be able to reopen their economies in about two weeks.
“We want to get our country open again,” Trump said. “We want to have our sports leagues open. You want to watch sports. It’s important. We miss sports. We miss everything. We want to get back.”
The event was also a massive sign of just how integral the Sunshine State is in the race for the White House. With 29 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, taking Florida would be a major prize for Biden or Trump.
“You deserve a government, a government that is working hard for you and you are, as hard as you are working for us,” Biden said.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a former candidate for president, endorsed Biden’s candidacy for office earlier Wednesday. Every top democratic candidate who ran in the primaries has publicly stated their support for Biden.
As for Jones, he hopes voters will move him from the state house to the state senate in the fall.
“My constituents are choosing between paying for food, paying their utilities or paying for their insulin, and that’s why we need this conversation centering around the front line workers, which are the people who are physically vulnerable to contracting this virus and economically vulnerable as well,” Jones said.