U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Livermore) told union healthcare, long-term care and education workers and other members on Wednesday that he will work with them to help them get the supplies and benefits they need to get through the new coronavirus pandemic.
At a video town hall, Swalwell said, "We're going to get through this, that's who we are. You, the health care workers, the janitors, the airport workers. You are worthy of our gratitude and should be taken care of and shouldn't be forgotten."
In response to a question from Nina Wells, the president of Service Employees International Union Local 121, which represents nurses in Southern California, Swalwell said Congress isn't doing enough at this time to provide mental health care services for health care workers who are feeling stressed about working during the COVID-19 crisis but he hopes it will do more soon.
Swalwell said Democrats in Congress are working on a new assistance package that would include mental health benefits for frontline workers.
"That's a priority and I promise we will seek it in the next package," Swalwell said.
In response to another question, Swalwell also said he will seek additional funding to support childcare workers.
Responding to a question by John Arantes of the BART chapter of SEIU 1021, which represents maintenance and clerical workers at the transit agency, Swalwell said he's working with BART's management to make sure that they get enough funding to survive while BART is experiencing a dramatic decrease in ridership.
Swalwell also said he's working to get funding so that all BART workers have personal protective equipment and to make sure that the agency has enough masks to give to riders who don't bring their own masks when they ride on the transit system.
Tom Ferreira, an emergency room technician at a hospital in Dublin, said he and other technicians are "feeling insecure and unsafe" because of a shortage of personal protective equipment.
Swalwell said the coronavirus relief package that Congress passed last month includes $100 billion for hospitals for wages and benefits as well as PPE.
"There is anxiety but not a shortage and we won't run out of equipment," Swalwell promised.