It was only a few short weeks ago that a tweet from Madonna labeling COVID-19 “the great equalizer” went viral. Echoing high-profile elected officials such New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, this framing of the global pandemic quickly drew sharp criticism. With overwhelming evidence regarding racial and class disparities in terms of both lost lives and lost livelihoods as a result of the virus, any assertion of equity of impact ignores painful yet blaring truths about deeply entrenched inequality along multiple fault lines in the U.S.
As more data pours in regarding COVID-19–related fatalities as well as rising unemployment, the individual and compounded effects of racism, poverty, ageism, and ableism become undeniable. Even President Trump’s surgeon general, Jerome Adams, recently confirmed that African Americans, in particular, were at greater risk of contracting the potentially deadly virus. Adams’ comments on the disparate effects of COVID-19 on African Americans nevertheless leaned into racist stereotypes about consumption of drugs and alcohol. He also trumpeted personal responsibility in the face of a crisis even as he acknowledged grave structural realities such as comorbidities, which leave African Americans more vulnerable.
Adams’ statements thus far, however, fall short of detailing the fullness of why certain communities are more at risk than others. Identifying the existence of comorbidities is simply not enough. This pandemic requires a clear, full-throated assessment of how longstanding structural barriers, institutionalized discrimination, and interconnected oppressions lead to stark outcomes for marginalized communities.
From how ventilators are rationed to the disproportionate number of African Americans with existing conditions such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, and hypertension to the overrepresentation of people of color in low-wage, essential work, the story to be told is one of gross, systemic inequality that positions far too many people as disposable. Merely pointing out, for example, that African Americans are more likely to die from COVID-19 than their white counterparts doesn’t explain how or why we experience a higher mortality rate.
Published on Fri 17 Apr 2020 12.47 EDT
The Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar has unveiled a bill that would cancel rent and mortgage payments for millions of Americans struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the legislation announced on Friday, landlords and mortgage holders would be able to have losses covered by the federal government. The program would extend for a month beyond the end of the national emergency, which was declared on 13 March, and would be made retroactive to cover April payments.
The proposal comes amid an unprecedented housing crisis: 31% of Americans in rental accommodation could not pay rent at the beginning of this month. Millions have lost their jobs since.
Federal answers have been limited. The Cares Act stimulus package included $12bn for Department of Housing and Urban Development programs targeting homelessness and rental assistance. But those funds do little to address the needs of millions of Americans who now find themselves on the edge of acute housing insecurity.
National housing groups have called for more funding for rental relief. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates it would cost about $76.1bn over 12 months to provide relief to the 11.5 million people who are already or soon will become severely housing cost-burdened. The group is demanding $100bn in emergency solutions grants towards short-term rental assistance.
But many housing advocates are concerned that such assistance would fail to provide the long-term protection needed to prevent mass evictions. A federal eviction moratorium established through the Cares Act extends only through mid-May, prohibiting evictions within properties with federally backed mortgages.
Without an enforcement mechanism, or a clear way for tenants to find out if their property is covered, evictions have continued.
Omar’s bill seeks to tie federal funding to clear renter protections. In order to receive funds, landlords and lenders would be required to follow a set of fair renting and lending practices for five years. These terms would prohibit rent increases, evictions without just cause, discrimination against voucher holders and more. Any owner or mortgagee who breaks the terms would be subject to a fine.
On his television program today, End Times pastor Jim Bakker claimed that he is being persecuted because he supports President Donald Trump and reported that he was told by God that conservative Christian pastors will soon be killed for standing up for the Bible.
As we reported yesterday, Bakker is currently facing a dire financial situation because credit card processors have cut off his ministry in the wake of legal problems created by a February program in which Bakker and his guest promoted a silver solution sold by his network as a cure for the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Greedy Louisiana Pastor, Tony Spell, went on CNN on Sunday morning to try to defend his plea for to parishioners to give HIM their stimulus checks and suffice to say, it did not go well. Not only has Spell been begging for that sweet sweet socialist government money, but he has continued to bus people in for services, flouting CDC recommendations to limit large gatherings. His justification for bussing his cult members, I mean “congregants”, is that they are “too poor” to have internet access, which could allow them to watch the Life Tabernacle Church services via a live stream.
So, of course, the best way to help your POOR congregants, is to ask the to donate their stimulus checks to YOU, who is definitely not poor, because why the heck not?
Blackwell was quick to point out that disparity:
Editor’s note: This story contains a graphic description of an alleged sexual assault.
Tara Reade, a former junior staffer in Joe Biden’s Senate office, has accused the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee of sexually assaulting her in 1993, when she was working as a staff assistant. The Biden campaign denies the accusation and says the alleged incident “absolutely did not happen.”
Reade detailed her account in multiple conversations with NPR, and it was corroborated by a friend of hers who declined to be identified. Reade’s brother also corroborated some parts of her story. No contemporaneous notes or documentation of the alleged incident have been found, and Reade’s account has been denied by longtime Biden staffers whom she worked for at the time.
In interviews with NPR, Reade, now 56 and living in California, said the alleged assault happened when she was asked by her then-supervisor to deliver a duffel bag to Biden as he was heading to the Capitol
A former Alabama police lieutenant convicted of raping his stepdaughter wants a judge to release him because his sentencing hearing has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
An attorney for Pete Williston, a former cop in Birmingham convicted of first-degree rape, filed a motion Monday seeking his release on bond since his original sentencing date of April 3 has been postponed until at least April 16 due to court closures, AL.com reports.
In the motion, Scott Harwell said his client would live with his wife and two children in Kimberly, where the disgraced lawman would agree to house arrest and electronic monitoring.
“Because of his current confinement and his prior position as a police officer, [Williston] is in solitary confinement and in a cell for 23 hours a day,” Harwell wrote.
Harwell added that he had spoken to his client’s mother, who said Williston, 50, was in “good mental spirits” but would further improve if he could return home until being sentenced.
“Although counsel is not a psychologist, in the two lengthy conversations counsel had with the defendant, he did not appear to be a risk to harm himself,” the motion continued.
Jurors convicted the 17-year department vet in February after deliberating for just 30 minutes, AL.com reported.
Defense attorneys insisted that because Williston’s daughter was 16 at the time, the sex acts were consensual. But prosecutors said the girl was just 14 and couldn’t provide consent.
Williston’s stepdaughter testified at trial that her stepdad engaged in multiple sex acts with her up to three times a week between 2008 and 2011, the outlet reports.
A judge had not yet ruled on Harwell’s motion as of Monday. A message seeking comment from the attorney was not immediately returned Tuesday.
The first warning of the devastation that the coronavirus could wreak inside American nursing homes came in late February, when residents of a facility in suburban Seattle perished, one by one, as families waited helplessly outside.
In the ensuing six weeks, large and shockingly lethal outbreaks have continued to ravage nursing homes across the nation, undeterred by urgent new safety requirements. Now a nationwide tally by The New York Times has found the number of people living in or connected to nursing homes who have died of the coronavirus to be at least 7,000, far higher than previously known.
In New Jersey, 17 bodies piled up in a nursing home morgue, and more than a quarter of a Virginia home’s residents have died. At least 24 people at a facility in Maryland have died; more than 100 residents and workers have been infected at another in Kansas; and people have died in centers for military veterans in Florida, Nevada, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington.
On Friday, New York officials for the first time disclosed the names of 72 long-term care facilities that have had five or more deaths, including the Cobble Hill Health Center in Brooklyn where 55 people have died. At least 14 nursing homes in New York City and its suburbs have recorded more than 25 coronavirus-related deaths. In New Jersey, officials revealed that infections have broken out in 394 long-term facilities — almost two-thirds of the state’s homes — and that more than 1,500 deaths were tied to nursing facilities.
Overall, about a fifth of deaths from the virus in the United States have been tied to nursing homes or other long-term care facilities, the Times review of cases shows. And more than 36,500 residents and employees across the nation have contracted it.
In interviews with more than two dozen workers in long-term care facilities as well as family members of residents and health care experts, a portrait emerged of a system unequipped to handle the onslaught and disintegrating further amid the growing crisis.
“They’re death pits,” said Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York who founded the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, an education campaign aimed at stopping hospital-acquired infections. “These nursing homes are already overwhelmed. They’re crowded and they’re understaffed. One Covid-positive patient in a nursing home produces carnage.”
It is a tragedy that is continuing to unfold, and one that even the dire figures that are known only partially capture. The number of cases at these facilities, which include nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, memory care facilities, retirement and senior communities and long-term rehabilitation facilities, is almost certainly still higher since many facilities, counties and states have not provided detailed information. The outbreaks have been spread across the sprawling senior care industry, including at publicly run facilities, those run by nonprofit groups and others managed by large corporations. Some nursing homes with clusters have a history of safety violations, persistent staffing problems and limited amenities. Other hard-hit facilities have sterling health records, luxurious living arrangements and pricey rents.