AFT Resolution

A Robust Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic


WHEREAS, while the COVID-19 virus is a new medical challenge to humanity, the resources and expertise needed to confront and transcend this challenge were already in place prior to its emergence; and

WHEREAS, public health officials, scientific researchers and rank-and-file medical professionals have worked together to produce detailed science-based and data-driven action plans to respond to emerging pathogens that keep frontline healthcare workers safe and the general public healthy; and

WHEREAS, these same professionals work diligently in real time to make evidence-based updates to these protocols and plans to adapt them to the circumstances created by a specific public health risk; and

WHEREAS, these plans, especially as coordinated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have been the foundation for global responses to emerging infectious diseases; and

WHEREAS, these evidenced-base plans have been important to our strategies in suppressing novel pathogens like the H1N1 (swine) influenza virus and the Ebola virus, as well as managing endemic diseases such as the seasonal flu; and

WHEREAS, it is absolutely critical for the success of these emerging pathogen containment strategies that there be coordination by multiple groups across jurisdictional boundaries and that the public have confidence in public health agencies, research institutions and medical practitioners; and

WHEREAS, the Trump administration, time and again, has refused to draw upon the wealth of expertise from decades of scientific research and data-tested public health experience to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus in favor of an “ad hoc strategy”; and

WHEREAS, the Trump administration’s “strategy” for dealing with the novel coronavirus—such as it is—is driven by the political considerations of the president’s re-election campaign rather than the science and practitioner experience that are necessary to suppress the virus; and

WHEREAS, the Trump administration has abdicated its national and global leadership role in responding to the pandemic, hampering and at times outright undermining efforts to bring the disease under control, protect frontline healthcare workers and create the safe conditions for a robust economic recovery, including a safe return to classroom instruction in our systems of K-12 and higher education; and

WHEREAS, the Trump administration’s frequent and ongoing politicization of critical public health and scientific policies around the novel coronavirus has eroded public trust in the agencies and entities we must rely upon to manage the pandemic, thus continuing to erode our collective ability to suppress the pandemic and resume a more normal daily life; and

WHEREAS, the Trump administration’s continuing failures have cost the lives of more than 200,000 people in the United States and have had a negative impact on millions more; and

WHEREAS, in contrast to the Trump administration’s chaotic and overly politicized COVID-19 response, former Vice President Joe Biden has already released a science-based plan to help mitigate this pandemic, and has the proven track record to successfully implement it, as his previous pandemic management during the Obama-Biden administration:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers calls on elected officials at all levels of government to develop public policy around the coronavirus pandemic based on good evidence and science, drawing upon the expertise of medical practitioners, public health experts and academic researchers; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT fights for a robust public health infrastructure at the federal, state and local level that revitalizes our public health workforce, enhances the efforts of our state and local health departments, modernizes our antiquated public health data systems and increases research capacity at public science agencies and research institutions; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT continues to demand a coordinated, evidence-based federal response developed by public health officials with the input of medical practitioners, research scientists and academic experts that addresses the shortage of personal protective equipment for frontline workers, the inadequate supply of testing materials and scarcity of tests, the shortage of medical equipment for the sick and other challenges to fighting the pandemic that can only be overcome with federal coordination; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will support and promote universal masking and safety precautions as an essential non-pharmaceutical intervention in bringing the pandemic under control and beginning to reopen our institutions and economy;[1] and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will demand a rigorous vaccine approval process by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ensure the public confidence in a safe vaccine that will be necessary for its effective distribution; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will fight for a safe vaccine that is equitably distributed and free to all; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT demands that the United States reengage with the World Health Organization and work to regain the world’s trust as an active partner and leader in global public health; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT supports and continues to vigorously defend public servants who have worked diligently to develop evidence-based protocols from political interference that is harmful to public health and human security, especially those who bravely step forward to expose instances where shortsighted politics trumps science; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT, in order to create the conditions where we can begin to restore faith in our public institutions, will work to elect Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States.

Adopted 10/7/2020

[1] Conflicting and inconsistent messages from officials at the highest levels of government have needlessly served to spread disease, including holding indoor campaign rallies where attendees are not wearing masks.