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As Gov. John Bel Edwards watches, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H., talks about the coronavirus at a press conference at the State Capitol Thursday March 12, in Baton Rouge.

We must protect people on the front lines.

As a local union leader for the Louisiana Association of Educators, I have received many calls as it relates to sheer terror from people across our industry.

Many educators have put themselves, their families and students in our state education system at considerable personal risk. Our commitment in the face of such circumstances is a testament to the can-do attitude of our professions.

We believe that as public servants, we are called for a higher purpose. This purpose does come with some risks, and our state leaders should take this into account as they do the work of legislating.

I am calling on our state legislators, our governor and our other elected officials to take immediate action to protect the health and security of professionals who work in the face of environments that make it so difficult to control for the spread of disease. It should be clear now, through legislation, that no health care professional or educator should be penalized and be faced with a loss of income if they come in contact with this disease in the fulfillment of their job responsibilities.

The panic across the state is real; I must commend our state for responding so quickly. However, we must additionally move to ensure we do not scare people into coming into work for fear that they will not be paid and further welcome the spread of disease.

This burden is heavy, and the way that we lead as a state and show that we care is a standard that this country can follow. I challenge Gov. John Bel Edwards to encourage this protective legislation and to continue as he has to reassure the people of this state that he is on top of the work of ensuring we are all healthy!

JAMAL TAYLOR

teacher, union president

Lafayette