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3/26/20

NATIONAL ISSUES


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THIRD CORONAVIRUS BILL:  The Senate voted last night 96-0 to approve the current coronavirus rescue package.  https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/25/senate-vote-coronavirus-rescue-package-deal-148135  While the bill has many welcome positives, it is concerning that it will not be enough for New York, which is our epicenter of the virus.  https://www.marketwatch.com/story/gov-andrew-cuomo-says-2-trillion-stimulus-bill-is-terrible-for-new-york-2020-03-25  This bill will now move to the House.  Let’s call our MoCs and remind them that we are counting on them to make sure we are all protected as much as possible.

HUMAN LIVES VS BUSINESS PROFIT:  Trump is getting nervous about the stock market crash and the failing economy and is now saying that he would like to ease restrictions on social distancing, send the country back to work, and see packed churches by Easter, which is barely three weeks away. https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ct-nw-coronavirus-trump-restrictions-reopen-20200324-mgnfnxy3xvgpzapcynflxouaga-story.html and  https://time.com/5808541/coronavirus-donald-trump-economy-public-health/ This goes against all recommendations from public health officials and would likely lead to a spike in the number of coronavirus deaths because hospitals would be overwhelmed. And some of his cronies are saying even worse things, like the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, who said that senior citizens should sacrifice their health so that younger people can have access to an America they have always known. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/03/24/covid-19-texas-official-suggests-elderly-willing-die-economy/2905990001/  The Director of The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security addresses the notion of loosening social distancing measures, spelling out and warning against what that would mean:  https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1242232846900756482.html   Let’s call the White House and our MoCs and tell them we’re not giving up our grandparents for Lent. We refuse to sacrifice the lives of our elderly loved ones or anyone else to preserve the stock market. Let’s also call our governors and ask them to institute or retain social distancing measures, despite what the president does.

DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT: Although Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA), he has yet to actually use it (https://n.pr/2Jbbb69). Meanwhile, medical workers are running out of personal protective equipment (PPE), and are forced to ration and reuse gear, or use supplies that offer inadequate protection from COVID-19 (https://bit.ly/2WGhNBd). This not only puts these care workers at risk personally, but also puts other patients in danger and increases the likelihood that we will lose healthcare workers as the coronavirus spreads. Were Trump to use the power of the DPA, he could demand that businesses manufacture the equipment needed to fight COVID-19, rather than relying on the goodwill of a few companies. Bipartisan members of Congress in both the House and Senate have introduced the Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act, which would force the president to utilize the Defense Production Act to require the production of medical equipment. The bill has yet to be published or numbered, but let's still contact each of our MoCs and tell them that we support the Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act and want the president to use the DPA immediately.

IMMIGRATION AND DETENTION: Over 160 organizations have signed onto a letter to Attorney General William Barr, asking him to "halt immigration prosecutions and stop bringing charges of unauthorized entry against immigrants at the border" in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health. This is part of a larger push to not only halt prosecutions, but to also release detained immigrants and prevent the spread of the coronavirus in detention facilities, which are ill-prepared to handle any health crisis (https://n.pr/3ajs36r). Let's read through the letter, then let’s contact the Department of Justice Comment and ask that they halt prosecution and detainment of immigrants:  https://www.justice.gov/contact-us We can also join medical professionals in asking ICE Acting Director Matthew T. Albence to release detained individuals and families: Acting Director Matthew T. Albence, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 500 12th St. SW, Washington, D.C. 20536

LINK CORRECTION:  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.  

MUTUAL AID GROUPS POPPING UP: “As lockdowns and layoffs sweep the U.S., mutual aid groups are forming to protect and provide for the vulnerable, including the elderly, incarcerated, undocumented and unhoused. We look at the incredible community networks across the country that are coming together to protect their neighbors during the coronavirus pandemic — and how you can get involved.”  https://www.democracynow.org/2020/3/20/coronavirus_community_response_mutual_aid and https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2020/3/24/21188779/mutual-aid-coronavirus-covid-19-volunteering  Local areas are creating Facebook groups, protocols, and documents to help during this time.  Here is an example of what one small county produced:  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FYcqcbY2qMuuy75GIIM9UuqvFR_-YlVKfFcrqJOy9mw/edit  Let’s see if our area has one of these and how we can help. 


TELL GOVERNORS OF TEXAS AND OHIO NOT TO USE COVID-19 AS AN EXCUSE FOR RESTRICTING ABORTIONS: Using the excuse of recent directives to delay elective procedures so that hospitals are not overwhelmed during the coronavirus pandemic, the governors of Ohio and Texas have included abortion in their list of non-essential surgeries. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/23/us/coronavirus-texas-ohio-abortion.html. The problem is, abortion cannot be delayed, and it is safest when done as early in a pregnancy as possible. Let’s tell Governor Greg Abbott and Governor Mike DeWine that abortion is a basic women’s right and to stop playing politics with our health. 

CLOSE ALL IMMIGRATION COURTS NOW:  While many state and federal courts have been closed, the decisions on whether or not to close immigration courts are being made directly by the Department of Justice in consultation with the White House, and many of these courts are still open for business, creating unnecessary high risk for exposure to coronavirus for immigrants, their attorneys, and anyone who works in the court system (as well as anyone they subsequently come in contact with.)  https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/immigration/article241335126.html?. Let’s call the Department of Justice (202-353-1555; 950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC, 20530-0001; website form; Facebook; Twitter: @TheJustice Dept.) now and demand that all immigration courts be closed and all those in detention awaiting hearings be released until the pandemic threat has passed.

DIY SURGICAL MASKS UPDATE:  All over the world people are answering the call for more surgical masks for health professionals.  https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/24/us/sewing-groups-masks-coronavirus-wellness-trnd/index.html  The best advice is to remember that homemade masks are only rated to be "better than nothing for drop protection" by the CDC. They are in no way "CDC-approved,” “equivalent to N95 masks,” or anything like that, and that it is important to make the type your local health professionals want, unless you’re making them for friends/family, then do whatever. There are many versions of the mask instructions available, for example, Here’s the chosen mask style for Ventura County, CA:  https://indivisibleventura.org/2020/03/23/mon-3-23-its-time-to-do-more/ They like this one because it’s ferociously strong, (they estimate needing them for 5 months) and it doesn’t have elastic, which would dissolve in the hospital laundry and could trigger latex allergies. Let’s contact our local hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, nursing homes, etc. to find out what they need, then keep sewing!

ENGAGING MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS IN ACTIVISM: If we are looking for ways our Middle and High School students can develop their activist abilities, we can check this Zoom meeting next Tuesday. The Empower And Help Global Awareness Challenge 2020 is holding weekly Zoom sessions to discuss their upcoming Global Challenge and Online Volunteering Opportunities for middle and high school students. Sessions will be held on Tuesdays starting March31 at 4:00PM – 5:00PM EST. We can fill out the contact form below to register for the discussion and learn more about online student volunteering opportunities for middle and high school students, and the Empower And Help Global Awareness Challenge where they can research and design solutions to global problems:  https://empowerandhelp.com/students-volunteer-online/

ABORTIONS BARRED IN TEXAS, MISSISSIPPI, AND OHIO: Texas and Ohio have calculatedly used the coronavirus pandemic to end surgical abortions.  In Texas, they have been deemed "not immediately medically necessary"; in Ohio, the excuse is that such abortions, being elective and nonessential, must cease in order to preserve personal protective equipment:  https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/03/25/coronavirus-abortions-elective-surgery-nonessential/5077665002/ Let’s tell TX Governor Greg Abbott at 512-463-2000, OH Governor Mike DeWine at 614-644-4357, and MS Governor Tate Reeves at 601-359-3150 that we are not so gullible or stupid as to believe that they are not exploiting the pandemic crisis to further their anti-abortion agendas and doctors need to make this call.

COVID-19—HOW TO PUT AWAY GROCERIES: Michigan family physician Jeffrey VanWingen, MD, created a public service announcement showing how to keep our groceries from spreading coronavirus in our homes. Let’s watch and share his video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjDuwc9KBps&feature=share

PROTECTING THE VOTE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19—Nearly 200 organizations are urging Congress to include in forthcoming coronavirus economic stimulus package $2 billion in protections for voting in the 2020 primaries and general election. Let’s read the letter, http://civilrightsdocs.info/pdf/policy/letters/2020/COVID-19-TF-Co-Chair-Funding-Letter-FINAL3.22.20.pdf , and let’s send the link with a message of our support and approval to our Members of Congress.

ELECTION/VOTING

STATE/LOCAL

ALL:  WATER SHUT-OFFS: Governors have the power to stop all water shutoffs and to order the restoration of water service to any household previously denied water for nonpayment of water bills. Despite the unremitting public health directives to wash with soap and water, many governors haven't taken this critical step to protect their constituents: https://www.propublica.org/article/some-towns-still-havent-halted-utility-shut-offs-for-unpaid-water-bills-during-coronavirus-even-as-federal-lawmakers-demand-it  If our governor has not taken this essential action, we should demand that they do it immediately.  By phone, or by using the tool for writing the governor provided by Food & Water Watch: https://secure.foodandwateraction.org/act/governors-no-water-shutoffs-during-pandemic

CA: DONATIONS NEEDED FOR UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS: Undocumented workers, a major part of our restaurant and food service workforce, are often the hardest hit in any crisis and this one is no exception. They cannot work during the shutdown, nor qualify for government bailouts to help them out,so  Los Angeles’ Va’La’ Hospitality has started No Us Without You. Using their former workspace as a pantry, their goal is to provide families with a weeks’ worth of food. We can find out more about this project to help feed undocumented workers out during this crisis, and access a link to donate if we are able to: https://www.lamag.com/digestblog/no-us-without-you-undocumented/

NY: PEOPLE RECOVERED FROM COVID-19 NEEDED AS PLASMA DONORS TO FIGHT THE DISEASE: If we have recently recovered from COVID, the city needs our help saving lives. Mount Sinai Health System tells us that, "Patients recently recovered from COVID-19 have high levels of immunity in the form of antibodies in their blood that can be transfused into very sick COVID-19 patients in our hospitals. This treatment is known as “human convalescent plasma” and has been used in previous pandemics. We are ready to start treating patients later this week, but need your help. If you have recently recovered from COVID-19, please volunteer to have your blood tested to see if you have high levels of antibodies. If your antibody levels are high, we will work with you to see if you are both willing and qualified to donate plasma at a nearby blood donation center. You could save a life. If you can help, please email us at COVIDSerumTesting@mountsinai.org."

RALLIES/GATHERINGS/TRAININGS/GROUP ACTIONS/TWEETSTORMS

READING/WATCHING

Court sides with tribes in Dakota Access Pipeline case, ordering full environmental review - https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/489488-court-sides-with-tribes-in-dakota-access-pipeline-case-ordering

That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief - https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief

The Promise and Paradox of Community - https://margaretwheatley.com/articles/paradox.html

Heather Cox Richardson’s First Weekly Politics and History Chat - https://www.facebook.com/heathercoxrichardson/videos/608333999748366/

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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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