Washington D.C. – Today, more than 120 organizations from across the country sent a letter to Director Robert Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asking him to stop water shutoffs nationwide to protect people from COVID-19. The organizations are echoing the call of the House Oversight Committee, which requested similar action in an October 5 letter to Dir. Redfield. The organizations request that he use his authority under Section 361 of the Public Health Services Act to impose a nationwide moratorium on water service disconnections for nonpayment during the COVID-19 pandemic with safe service restoration for all households previously disconnected.
The request to the CDC comes as negotiations over a Covid relief bill are getting down to the wire ahead of election day. Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are still negotiating over the next relief bill, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has continued to oppose aid for local and state governments. The House of Representatives has passed two relief bills, HEROES and HEROES 2, that included a national moratorium on water shutoffs with service restoration for previously disconnected homes and $1.5 billion in low-income water aid, but Sen. McConnell has opposed a similar measure in the Senate.
In response, Food & Water Action Senior Organizer Rianna Eckel issued the following statement:
“The CDC must take urgent action to protect people right now. COVID cases are rising and hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of losing the water they need to wash their hands and protect themselves. It is clear that the CDC has the authority and power to suspend water shutoffs across the country. Water is essential for disinfecting and controlling the spread of COVID-19. This is a basic matter of public health.
“It is a crying shame that Sen. McConnell and the White House have so far refused to pass a strong relief bill with protections for the millions of families who are struggling. No one should be denied water during a pandemic.”
Food & Water Action has been providing a live tracker of local and state water shutoff moratoria during the pandemic. Expiration dates are also listed. Available here.
Contact: Seth Gladstone – [email protected], 917.363.6615