I am a registered nurse working in a pediatric hospital in Los Angeles. Every shift I work requires me to mask up and wear protective gear. Some shifts, I watch little children struggling to breathe. Every shift, I prepare myself to watch a family receive the worst news.
So I know firsthand that my health, and yours, depends on the outcome of this election.
I hope you will consider that when you decide whether to vote in this election less than 20 days away. I think by now we understand what COVID-19 made very clear: All of us, even those who won’t admit it, are together in the struggle to end this pandemic. And we need a common-sense plan to do that.
In the hospital, it doesn’t matter who the children’s parents are or how the politics stack up. What matters is whether my hospital has the equipment and resources to keep them alive, or whether their families have the health coverage to give these children the care they so desperately need.
As we know, these choices are decided by elected leaders. That’s why it matters that you vote in this election.
The pundits have a lot to say about Latino voters like me. They say we have great potential, but it hasn’t yet resulted in political change—that we’re a sleeping giant. But I don’t see anyone asleep in my community. I hear them talk about how COVID-19 has infected their families, robbed them of work hours, shrunk their salary. They quite literally lie awake and worry.
The week after Election Day, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case that could end the Affordable Care Act, which has given more than 20 million people access to doctors and medicine when they need it. There’s no way to know how the justices will rule, though the Trump administration is doing everything it can to ensure they repeal it.
That will in no way help end a pandemic that is ravaging us, that has sickened or killed loved ones across the country.
Make plans to vote no matter what. When you turn in your ballot, you are standing with your community. That’s when we will have a government that will move quickly to protect everyone’s access to health care, no matter where they were born or how much money they have in their wallets.
More specifically, if we get a president who trusts science and who knows how to govern, our country will have a real plan to end the pandemic using the tools we know work: providing enough protective gear, ensuring governors have the support they need to flatten the curve, establishing national common-sense guidelines for everyone to follow, and signing a national COVID-19 relief bill that includes everyone, and helps us get back on our feet.
We Latinos care about these issues, a lot. We are healthcare voters. A Latino Decisions tracking poll so far is showing that nearly half of Latinos (46 percent) consider COVID-19 their top issue going into this election, and lowering the cost of healthcare ranks second, with 31 percent rating it at the top.
I live in California, where all registered voters are receiving mail-in ballots — and voting. We know mail-in ballots are the safest way to vote in a pandemic, and we know they work. They should be available to all voters in Arizona, Georgia and every other state. And once we send the ballots in, each and every one must be counted.
I’m a healthcare provider. My instincts and my training orient me to heal, to reduce someone’s pain, to give sympathetic advice, to listen, and to advocate for my patients. I know these are scary times. But we healthcare voters have the power right now to help this nation heal. And it begins with the ballots in our hands.
Let’s not waste this opportunity. Let’s heal this country together. Let’s all vote.
Summer Garcia is registered nurse living in Los Angeles.