Here’s a sad fact. St. Louis County has not done nearly well enough in the fight against the coronavirus. Our county now has more than 5,000 reported cases of Covid-19 (and rising) . The burden of disease has fallen disproportionately on the economically disadvantaged and communities of color – those with the least access to medical care. We need more testing (both diagnostic testing and antibody testing); we need more and better PPE for our health care workers and first responders; we need more and better contact tracing. We need all of that right now.

To get it, we need leaders who will fight to ensure that everyone has health care they need. Jake Zimmerman is that kind of leader. Jake will fight to eliminate racial inequity in health care delivery and to focus testing and relief where it is most needed – communities of color, nursing homes, assisted living facilities to name a few. He will make sure that the relief funds the county receives go where they are needed, not where it’s politically expedient.

Jake is the only candidate who has stood up to the Republicans to protect health care for families and insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. As we respond to the COVID-19 crisis, he will work to address racial disparities in health outcomes and strengthen access to care in underserved communities. The Republicans in Washington and Jeff City have made it clear they won’t do this, and we need a strong County Executive who will.

Jake’s approach to the COVID-19 crisis is science-based. He puts your health and safety first and will listen to the experts to ensure we reopen businesses and schools safely. He’ll work to bring back jobs, help impacted small businesses and to prevent foreclosures. Jakes knows people of color are facing higher infection and death rates and will ensure help is directed to the communities that most need it and before it is too late.

Jake will lead St. Louis County’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis in an open and transparent way and ensure all our communities get the resources they need. Instead of allowing politicians to allocate federal recovery dollars through personal slush funds, he will demand an open process with strong oversight and accountability.

The economic road back will be challenging. With unemployment at its highest level since the Great Depression and businesses struggling due to COVID-19, county government must do more to promote economic growth and job creation. Jake will work to bring new businesses and jobs to our region, help local small businesses grow and create jobs, help those who’ve lost jobs to find work, stop foreclosures, and work with community partners to expand job-training opportunities.

Jake’s Public Health Strategy

Covid-19 recovery is a public health issue first and foremost, and a socio-economic issue second. Job One is to save lives and contain the virus. In a Zimmerman administration, our public health policy and our response to this pandemic will be driven by science, always putting the health and welfare of our people first.

Our strategy will be based on these five key considerations:

  1. The perverse influence of systemic racism in our society made the coronavirus pandemic a greater threat to life in communities of color than anywhere else. We must end this disparity once and for all, and the Covid-19 recovery is where we will start.

  2. Our decisions on public health policy should be guided by science and the recommendation of experts such as the STL Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force and the CDC. If the chamber of commerce says “yes” and science says “no,” science wins.

  3. The virus does not respect municipal boundaries; it can cross Skinker Boulevard with impunity. We must work regionally and cooperatively to control and defeat it.

  4. The voice of the people must be heard in the planning and execution of Covid-19 response.

    • The public welfare, not partisan politics, must drive the process.

    • Policy and spending decisions must be made transparently and in public view, not behind closed doors.

    • Public input must be sought before decisions are made, not after.

    • Fiscal oversight by the County Council must resume, as required by law.
  5. This is not just a medical issue. Families in economic crisis because of this pandemic must be helped. Resources will be allocated according to need, not by politics.

Our hearts go out to the families of people who have died from COVID-19 and to those who are experiencing the terrible effects of the virus. We honor the heroic efforts of our health care workers and first responders who put their own lives on the line for us daily.

COVID-19 does not discriminate. But its impact strikes hardest in communities of color. We have failed as a society to act on this knowledge and we HAVE to do better as we rebuild.

All political leaders MUST guarantee equitably distributed aid, and prioritize accessible health care and financial resources for those most in need in our community.