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3/24/20

NATIONAL ISSUES


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CORONAVIRUS BAILOUT:  As of Monday afternoon, things are evolving or devolving by the hour in the Senate’s efforts to pass a bailout package: 
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/23/coronavirus-us-bailout-what-you-need-to-know  The GOP is focused on corporations more than individuals. As Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) tweeted over the weekend, “We need a bill that does more for the working folks who are struggling the most, not no-strings bailouts for corporations. The Senate will get something done for the American people, but we need to stop wasting time on political games.”   https://twitter.com/SenDougJones/status/1241885771755331584  Let’s contact our MoC to say that we need a people-based bailout and no one that lines the pockets of corporations with slush-funds.

NO SURGICAL MASKS FOR ICE: With hospitals and health centers all over the country feeling the acute shortage of protective medical gear, and health care workers being told to re-use masks or make cloth ones, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/19/coronavirus-medical-supplies-138290, ICE has recently ordered 45,000 surgical masks so that agents can be protected when they round up undocumented people.  https://beta.sam.gov/opp/b34a20873ba141619348b52223702570/viewLet’s tell the person who made this order, amanda.stought@ice.dhs.gov, 202-732-2544 that at this time of crisis, we need to prioritize getting medical equipment to health care workers, and ICE should do the right thing and cancel this order. Let’s make sure our MoCs are aware of this inappropriate request. 

RELEASE DETAINED IMMIGRANTS AND ALL NON-VIOLENT INCARCERATED OFFENDERS: 38 people have already tested positive for COVID-19 in New York City Jails. https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/38-positive-coronavirus-nyc-jails-including-rikers-69731911. And the close conditions and limited access to basic sanitary supplies result in a much higher risk for those who are incarcerated. These populations include undocumented residents of our communities, people awaiting trial who have no money for bail, and people whose offenses are non-violent and whose release does not present a public threat to our communities. https://www.npr.org/2020/03/21/819275605/growing-calls-to-close-immigration-courts-and-release-detainees-as-virus-spreads. Let’s call our governor, the corrections departments in our state, and our state and local legislators and demand that anyone who fits these three categories should be released now in order to minimize the spread of the virus. 

RELEASE HELD UP COVID FUNDS ALLOCATED TO THE AMERICAN INDIAN HEALTH SERVICE: Funds from the first coronavirus relief bill that were designated for Native American tribes have been held up due to bureaucratic snafus. In the meantime, the American Indian Health Service is dangerously low on medical supplies and equipment. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/20/coronavirus-american-indian-health-138724 Let’s make sure that the Native American Community knows we have their back and put pressure on our MoCs to solve this problem.  

DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT:  Despite desperate pleas from governors of states hard-hit by the coronavirus, Trump refuses to use the powers of an act designed for precisely this kind of situation; claiming he has “invoked” the act, he has nevertheless not required that companies prioritize the production of “scarce and critical material” much less used the “allocation authority” granted him under the act to tell firms they must give the government the right to purchase above anyone else. Instead he has conjured up Venezuela-style “nationalization” of industry—not possible under this act—to frighten already frightened Americans:  https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/03/23/819926854/fact-check-trump-compares-defense-production-act-to-nationalization  Just as we must expose all the other lies about this pandemic, we must expose and deplore Trump’s doublespeak—"invoking” but not using the Production Act, l calling mandatory production in an emergency "nationalization".  Let’s tell our Congresspeople to demand that Trump employ the power he has so blithely relegated to himself.  This is not a moment to depend on industrial voluntarism; it’s a moment to force the production of life-saving medical supplies.

FOOD BANKS & COVID-19: Your local food bank is most likely experiencing shortages of volunteer help as well as funding. Many of the folks who've lost their livelihoods during this crisis are going to need their help. Let’s look them up online and contribute our time or money if you can, or contribute to this large and reputable organization: 

PROTECT MAIN STREET: Most family & small businesses are the foundations of our local communities. They operate and support our local economies. The losses our family & small businesses are about to endure are going to be profound.  Project Main Street is working for a grant program of these businesses.  We can follow them on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/protectmainstreet/ and sign this:  https://www.change.org/p/congress-protect-main-street-family-small-business-grants-to-stabilize-america

NATIONAL CLEARINGHOUSE HELPS DISTRIBUTE MEDICAL EQUIPMENT TO FIGHT COVID-19: Hospitals are in desperate need of masks and to other medical equipment to safely fight against the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, while the Trump administration is dragging its heels. To help out, The National COVID-19 Medical Equipment Clearinghouse is working with governments, suppliers and hospitals to get badly needed PPE to our frontline healthcare teams. Right now, rapid response teams are coordinating with manufacturers globally with the capacity to produce. Within weeks, millions of units of personal protective equipment (PPE) should be available for distribution.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2020/03/22/project-n95-launches-to-battle-2020-shortage-of-n95-masks-during-coronavirus-outbreak/#6e6efac0445e    If we are hospitals looks for supplies, manufacturers looking to help, or state or local governments looking to help coordinate, we can learn more and sign up here:  https://www.projectn95.com/

COVID-19/DISABILITY RIGHTS: Disability rights are consistently being left out of conversations about relief packages, by politicians across the political spectrum (https://ampr.gs/2QDGNVV). For the next COVID-19 spending bill, let's make sure that Congress no longer neglects the disability community. Let's check out the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network's COVID-19 action alert, which has specific things that we can ask our members of Congress to include in the next bill, as well as contact info and tweets we can send out: https://autisticadvocacy.org/2020/03/action-alert-covid19-relief/

COVID-19/HEALTHCARE ACCESS: United We Dream has created a resource for undocumented people who are in need of healthcare. Community healthcare centers are listed for all fifty states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Let's be sure to share this resource so that everyone in the country can feel safe when seeking medical assistance: https://unitedwedream.org/2020/03/healthcare-access-for-undocumented-folks-in-the-time-of-covid19/

COVID-19/MENTAL HEALTH: Dealing with a global pandemic, fears about job security, and financial instability, among other worries, is creating or exacerbating anxiety in so many of us. Let's make sure that we are taking care of ourselves during this crisis. We can start by working through the strategies and framework detailed here, then if we need more help, check out the resources listed at the bottom of the article: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/mar/19/coronavirus-anxiety-mental-health-wellbeing

HEALTHCARE/BLOOD SHORTAGE: The coronavirus has taken a foothold in each state, and in order to follow CDC guidelines and practice social distancing, the Red Cross has canceled more than 5,000 blood drives. The U.S. is now facing a blood shortage (https://bit.ly/2Uab295). Still, the FDA has not lifted its ban on donations from men who have had sex with other men in the past year. Let's contact FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn and tell him that this discriminatory, outdated rule needs to end and that we want him to lift the ban. We can reach him via e-mail: CommissionerFDA@fda.hhs.gov, on Twitter @SteveFDA or by mail to Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, Commissioner of Food and Drugs, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061 Rockville, MD 20852

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH:   “Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) just confirmed that he went about his daily business as a U.S. senator for a week while there was a possibility he had coronavirus. Turns out, he did test positive — meaning that Paul brought the virus right into the halls the U.S. Capitol. Paul’s decision has real legislative impacts. Utah’s GOP Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney both said they would self-quarantine now after spending time with Paul over the past few days. Congress has no way to vote remotely, though some lawmakers are trying to change that. That means Paul, Lee and Romney won’t get to vote on the relief package. That tightens Senate Republicans’ margins to get it passed.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/03/23/what-was-rand-paul-thinking/
While we are following the social distancing rules and many more in mandatory shelter in place rules, the senate and congress need to follow these rules as well.  Let’s remind our MOCs to practice the same precautions we are doing.  We are all needed to flatten the curve. 

VOTE BY MAIL: Amidst the Coronavirus crisis, instituting vote by mail is the only way to keep our elections equitable and on track.  Several bills have been introduced to assist states in expanding vote-by-mail for this November’s election. https://thehill.com/policy/technology/488334-democratic-senators-introduce-bill-to-promote-mail-in-voting-during and https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/03/18/coronavirus-pandemic-america-vote-by-mail-2020-election-column/5068527002/ Let’s contact our MoCs to demand they fight to include the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act (not yet numbered) and/or the Resilient Elections During Quarantines and Natural Disasters Act of 2020 (S. 3440/H.R. 6202)   in the next coronavirus relief package. We can contact them through this handy form prepared by Indivisible:  https://indivisible.org/demand-your-senators-ensure-safe-secure-elections-during-covid-19-outbreak

MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS LOOKING FOR REMOTE VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES:  If we are looking for remote help with NON-POLITICAL volunteering activities, students from EmpowerandHelp, a social good humanitarian platform, are looking to get involved to help remotely. There are many students who would like to help remotely in the times of global crisis we are facing right now. Please comment with your need and will see if we can find the match to help. These students are middle or high school students.  We can send an email with our volunteer needs to contactus@empowerandhelp.com and they will try to match us with middle and high school students eager to help.

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON DOING WEEKLY INFORMATIVE FACEBOOK LIVE PRESENTATIONS:  The author of the daily Letters from an American, historian Heather Cox Richardson, is starting two weekly Facebook Live sessions to share her knowledge:  1) at 4:00 EST on Tuesdays, she will answer questions people have asked about politics and history, and 2) at 1:00 EST on Thursdays, she will take us on a trip through American history, loosely based on her new book.  Let’s join in:  https://www.facebook.com/heathercoxrichardson/

POSTCARDING OPPORTUNITY:  From one of our own:  We may be forced to isolate from one another, but we can still raise our voices together! Please use/share/distribute these write-ups however you can. We can be LOUD!   https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LwGoBWwcXZh0NwFY5canuA-Y7BgolRy5lgWq78v2VQY/edit?usp=sharing

MASKS FOR WORKERS:  From one of our own:  My cousin Liz is a neonatal intensive care nurse and an amazing seamstress. Here's her pattern for sewn-at-home mask covers. They're needed everywhere right now. Pull out your fabric stash, choose some uplifting prints, and get going!  https://costumecrazed.me/2020/03/20/diy-fabric-mask-cover-covid-19-ppe-helper/  or https://www.makevictorymasks.org/ Then, let’s find out where they are needed in our community:  hospitals, pharmacies, etc.

ELECTION/VOTING

PRIMARIES POSTPONED. In addition to the states that announced their postponements last week (info at CNN), the following have announced postponements: a) Connecticut: from April 28 to June 2. (The Hill); b) Indiana: from May 5 to June 2 (Politico); c) North Carolina runoff election: from May 12 to June 23 (SpectrumNews); d) Puerto Rico: from March 29 to [no earlier than] April 26. (Politico). Let's mark our calendars now the new dates. 

CRAFTIVISM TIME! Creating postcards to help get out the vote can be a fun, family activity! Young activists can create fun drawings and older activists can help with writing and addressing. We can look at Postcards To Voters (P2V) for ideas. If we are already approved volunteers, let's request 5 addresses for an open campaign today. If we are new the P2V effort, we can sign up here

STATE/LOCAL

MI: SCHOOL PAY/FORGIVENESS: From the Michigan Education Association: "The Michigan House and Senate met last Tuesday to handle matters related to the coronavirus -- but Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey adjourned his chamber before taking action on critical legislation to keep ALL school employees paid and forgive school districts for the days of education missed due to the ongoing school closures caused by the COVID-19 outbreak." Let's contact our state MoC and tell them that we want them to pass the School Aid Supplemental bill (SB 373) immediately. We can also contact Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and ask him to reconvene the Senate ASAP to pass this bipartisan bill: (517) 373-5932 

MI: LGBTQ RIGHTS: Fair and Equal Michigan has launched a petition drive to get a measure on the 2020 ballot prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ individuals by including sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in the definition of "sex" under the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976. With the heavy presence of COVID-19 throughout the state, however, Michiganders must practice social distancing, making it all the more difficult to collect the more than 340,000 signatures required to get the proposal on the ballot (https://bit.ly/2WHaoBX). Fortunately, those of us who are registered voters in Michigan can now request petitions directly from Fair and Equal Michigan. Let's request a petition, then wash our hands before and after filling it out:

RALLIES/GATHERINGS/TRAININGS/GROUP ACTIONS/TWEETSTORMS

READING/WATCHING

‘I’m going to keep pushing.’ Anthony Fauci tries to make the White House listen to facts of the pandemic - https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/i-m-going-keep-pushing-anthony-fauci-tries-make-white-house-listen-facts-pandemic


Please Stop Treating Me Like I'm Disposable When You Talk About the Coronavirus - https://www.huffpost.com/entry/disabled-immunocompromised-people-coronavirus_n_5e6a6acfc5b6dda30fc51c2f


Why we’re not overreacting to the coronavirus, in one chart - https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2020/3/20/21179040/coronavirus-us-italy-not-overreacting

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We can stay up to date on Congress by checking out their schedules. a) The House publishes a weekly schedule at The Weekly Leader (published and dated Friday) as well as daily schedules at The Daily Leader. b) The Senate updates their schedule daily at the Senate Floor Schedule






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