Issue # 147, 2020 Week 16

Hey everyone,

Tired of mixed messages and bickering people on the television. Let us help. Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

  Another week, another COVID mess. This week is actually a bit better than last week’s on a number of fronts, but we’re still not experiencing what you’d call a great time–comfort foods are recommended. We’re here if anyone needs anything.

Events to Know

Trump’s Messed Up COVID-19 Response. This week we saw yet another installment of a by-now fixture of the NNR; Trump just can’t seem to stop himself from misbehaving even during a crisis. After more weeks of threatening to withhold funding from the WHO because he doesn’t like how they are reporting virus spread in the U.S., Trump went ahead and officially announced he was halting funding. This is particularly concerning because he remains focused on opening up the country, convening calls with hundreds of business leaders and setting up a pandemic council. Though at one point he was threatening to adjourn Congress, by the time that I type this he has settled into a three-point plan that would reopen the retail and entertainment industries first. He’s also acknowledging that states retain the right to set their own schedules when it comes to reopening, though his hand might have been forced on that one–more on that below.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Trump Halts Funding To World Health Organization
  2. NPR – Who Will Advise Trump On ‘reopening’ The U.S.? White House To Set New Pandemic Council
  3. Washington Post – Trump Threatens To Adjourn Congress To Get His Nominees But Likely Would Be Impeded By Senate Rules
  4. NBC – Trump Unveils Three-phase Plan For States To Reopen Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
  5. New York Times – Trump Says States Can Start Reopening While Acknowledging The Decision Is Theirs

State Pacts Unpacked.  After weeks of Trump signaling to states that they were on their own, states apparently got the message, because they are starting to organize with each other instead of the federal government.  The first to appear was a three-state coalition on the west coast, with California, Washington, and Oregon banding together to coordinate their reopening efforts and resources.  Then an eight-state bloc appeared on the East Coast, extending from Massachusetts down to Maryland.  Then the three north-most states on the East Coast created their own separate group.  Now seven Midwestern states have organized as well, and we’re officially seeing this effort in more-or-less all regions.

Key links:

  1. NBC Bay Area – California, Washington, Oregon Announce Coronavirus Pact
  2.  MarketWatch – East Coast Governors Create Joint Council To Open Up Economy Again
  3. Bangor Daily News – Maine Coordinating With Nh, Vermont On Reopening Economy Amid Coronavirus
  4. CNN – 7 Midwestern Governors Announce Their States Will Coordinate On Reopening

“If You’re Sick, Still Come.”   Apparent frustration with stay-at-home orders has driven some of the country into what I can only describe as rampant nihilism, which naturally 45 felt inclined to encourage. Some states are beginning to reopen some public spaces more-or-less immediately, despite all of the issues listed above. And in states where leaders are keeping things locked down, protests are popping up with alarming alacrity. In Michigan, people gathered at the state house to criticize their governor, yelling “Lock her up!” in apparent response to a stay-at-home order. In Denver, protesters squared off against medical providers, yelling “Go to China if you want communism!” (Why medical scrubs suggest communism is, of course, left as an exercise for the reader). In Austin, people simply chanted “USA!” standing neck-and-neck outside the statehouse. Adding fuel to the fire, Trump encouraged protesters to “LIBERATE” several additional states “and save your great 2nd Amendment,” which he said was “under siege!” (Why a virus involves the second amendment is, again, left as an exercise to the reader.) Some advertisements for rallies even said things like “If you’re sick still come, it’s your right,” prompting a twitter user to wonder if the rally was being organized by the virus.

Key links:

  1. Fox 5 Atlanta – Kemp: Restaurants, Other Businesses To Reopen In Georgia Amid Covid-19 Fight
  2. Washington Post – ‘Go To China If You Want Communism’: Anti-quarantine Protester Clashes With People In Scrubs
  3. Politico – Trump Breaks With His Own Guidelines To Back Conservative Anti-quarantine Protesters

Recent Resilience

Recent Court Resilience.  We saw several promising court cases this week.  An Obama-era standard for school lunch programs was reinstated by a federal district court judge in Maryland, who found that this administration’s attempt to roll back regulations violated the Administrative Procedure Act.  And in SCOTUS news, the court held that non-unanimous jury verdicts are unconstitutional.  Progress!

Key links:

  1. New York Times – Court Strikes Down Trump Rollback Of School Nutrition Rules 
  2. The Hill – Supreme Court Rules Non-unanimous Jury Verdicts Unconstitutional

Things to Watch

Postal Service Purgatory.  As mentioned last week, the U.S. Postal Service is still struggling in the face of COVID-19 crisis, particularly when it is combined with Trump’s bizarre vendetta against them.  But reporting this week draws the issue into focus by noting the ways in which debt has been a problem for USPS since 2006, leaving the agency insolvent as a final step of decline.  Without further supports from Congress, we may be looking at a total collapse of the service, as unfathomable as that seems–it’s stunning that this administration refuses to provide supports.  We need to keep an eye on this.
Key links:

  1. Wall Street Journal – Postal Service Warns Of $22 Billion Hole From Coronavirus
  2. Washington Post – The Postal Service Needs A Bailout. Congress Is Partly To Blame.
  3. New York Magazine – The U.S. Postal Service Needs Help Now: ‘the Situation Is Absolutely Dire’
  4. NPR – Sen. Elizabeth Warren Calls For National Voting Overhaul

Immigration Updates.    Trump announced this week that he plans to close down all immigration by executive order, like that’s totally normal and a thing he can do.  Unsurprisingly, he apparently did this without consulting his advisers, who now get to figure out how they will do this without the courts smacking it down again.  I really cannot stress enough how incredibly unprecedented this is, and it likely runs afoul of several international treaties regarding humanitarian aid.
Key links:

  1. New York Times – Trump Plans To Suspend Immigration To U.S.
  2. Politico – Trump’s surprise immigration ban expected to include major exemption

Market Mess Continues.*  Another five million people have filed for unemployment in the past week, bringing our new total to 22 million people, and experts are starting to say we’re experiencing a depression.  Nonetheless, stimulus payments have hit a number of snags, between delays to get Trump’s name printed on the paper checks, a glitch in online tax filing systems, and bank seizures of stimulus payments to apply to account fees.  (There is, however, a tracking site you can use to find out what is happening with yours.) Meanwhile, the small business loan program created three weeks ago has already run out of funds, and the administration is already under fire for giving limited funds to big chains instead of, y’know, small businesses.  There is an effort to get more funding put in place in the fourth federal bill, which passed in the Senate yesterday, but we’re not out of the woods until it’s also passed in the House.
Key links:

  1. CNBC – Weekly Jobless Claims Hit 5.245 Million, Raising Monthly Loss To 22 Million Due To Coronavirus
  2. CNN – Trump’s Name Will Be Added To Stimulus Checks
  3. New York Post – Tax Preparer Glitches Reportedly Delay Millions Of Coronavirus Stimulus Checks
  4. CBS – Stimulus Check Tracking Site Goes Live In Bid To Speed Emergency Payments
  5. Washington Post – White House, Gop Face Heat After Hotel And Restaurant Chains Helped Small Business Programs Run Dry
  6. The Hill – Senate passes $484B coronavirus relief package

Actions for Everyone

CW: Suicide, depression, mental health

These are trying times. It’s taking a toll on all of us. Give yourself space to feel all the feelings, and know, likewise, are also going through the motions.  We will get over this, but we need to feed our patience. What feeds your patience? I feed it with the fajitas I just made, by hanging out with my cats, by doing crafts, by doing absolutely nothing too. The narrative of being productive and “bettering yourself” during this crisis is damaging. It takes away from our patience, it makes it go hungry. Try to step away from this discourse rooted in capitalistic ideals of worth. Being is just fine.

Racial disparities during Covid-19 – Last week, Dr. Fauci, spoke up during a White House briefing about how the inequalities faced by African Americans are affecting the outcomes of Covid-19 infections and death in the community. So far, statistics are showing that African Americans are dying more often from the virus than any sector of society. He brought the issue forward, (which I was really elated to hear, and will probably cost him his job), comparing it with how the HIV/AIDS epidemic targeted the gay community.

  • African Americans face higher risk of contracting the virus because they are more likely to be working in essential industries. Only 20% of black workers reported being eligible to work from home, compared with about 30% of their white counterparts, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
  • Racial inequities in Healthcare leads to people being more at risk of death because they may be suffering from underlying conditions like diabetes, obesity, heart or lung disease. African Americans are twice as likely to lack health insurance compared with their white counterparts, and more likely to live in medically underserved areas, where primary care is sparse or expensive.
  • Racial bias can also affect how African Americans and other minority groups are treated when they are receiving healthcare.
  • Food deserts are also more abundant in African American communities.

This article by Vox expands on the topic.

What can we do? When you talk to your officials in congress and your local government, ask them to up the number of tests,  ask them what are they doing to help minority groups being affected by the pandemic, vote for candidates that support expanding healthcare. Not only talk to your officials, talk to everyone. Race has to be a topic we talk about with everyone, especially with our white friends and our white colleagues and our white families.

Mental health and Covid-19 – The fear from the pandemic, the isolation and social distancing, the loss of income, the feelings of loneliness, the anxiety of what’s to come, are all things we are dealing with together right now as a society. The pandemic is likely to cause a rise in suicides.

How can you help or what can you do if you or your loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255

Their website has very detailed articles and lists on how to deal with someone you know being suicidal or for yourself.

Text the Crisis Text Line 

Text HOME to 741741 (if you live in the US/Canada) and someone will get back to you immediately that will help you with the crisis you are experiencing at the moment. Remember, there is always someone to listen.

Keep an eye on your loved ones. Don’t forget to check up on the ones that seem alright. It’s a hard time for everyone. Be compassionate with yourself and with others.

And here are the Things That Made Me Laugh this week:

This woman who is giving free ASL classes from home 

We hope this newsletter left you feeling more informed and more energized to go out there and make a difference in whatever way you can.

We’d love to hear from you, not only for tips or suggestions (though they’re always welcome), but also to hear about how the activism has been going. Do you have any success stories? Did anything surprise you that you weren’t expecting? Let us know at activism@patrothfuss.com and hopefully we can use your stories to help encourage and educate others!

Best,
The Activism Team

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