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To: Senator Mitch McConnell, Senator Charles Schumer, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Kevin McCarthy
Demand Justice for Nuclear Frontline Communities in COVID-19 Stimulus
Nuclear frontline communities are demanding justice for harm done by US nuclear weapons production and testing - support their call for equitable health care funding in upcoming stimulus packages.
Why is this important?
The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to confront the vast inequities in our society that have made this virus more deadly in some communities than others. Congress has the opportunity to provide aid for people who need it the most, and their relief must help nuclear frontline communities. US nuclear weapons activities have–and continue to–hurt communities through harmful and sometimes deadly radiation exposure and related problems. Because of that exposure and other factors, these communities are now more at risk of COVID-19.
Since the beginning of the Manhattan Project in the 1940’s, uranium mining, weapons production, and atmospheric nuclear testing exposed many individuals and communities in the United States to radiation and other toxic chemicals. These exposed populations are disproportionately Indigenous, people of color, veterans, low-income, and/or from rural areas, and often face significant barriers to receiving adequate health care.
Now, the survivors of this radiation exposure are also at greater risk from COVID-19 due to underlying factors including their radiation exposure, air, soil, and water pollution, poverty, poor nutrition, etc. These factors can result in underlying health conditions and weakened immune systems.
Effective COVID-19 response requires that those who need care can receive it. It also means recognizing who is at greatest risk and addressing their needs. As we gear up for another stimulus package, we are calling for Congress to include funding for health care access for these frontline communities.
We call for inclusion in the next stimulus package of provisions of two bipartisan bills that would address this issue: The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments (H.R. 3783 and S. 947), which would expand health care compensation for communities exposed to radiation, and the Covering our FAS (Freely Associated States) Allies Act (H.R. 4821 and S. 2218), which would restore promised Medicaid coverage to Compact of Free Association residents living in the United States.