CORONAVIRUS: Impact, resources, facts vs. fiction

IMPACT ON BLACKS

With the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) reaching pandemic proportions, the racial justice organization Color of Change released a statement highlighting disparities Black people face. Here are excerpts and other insight into the crisis.

Cost of fear

“This pandemic reveals a terrifying reality — many Americans don’t even know if they are infected with COVID-19 because they are scared to go to the hospital and receive free tests and treatment that may saddle them with debt that could take years to pay off,” said the president of Color of Change, Rashad Robinson.

Black healthcare workers

“After years of Republicans, big pharma and major corporations fighting against paid sick leave legislation and medicare for all — we are left with a crisis where disproportionately Black low wage workers are continuing to support the public without the health insurance or paid time off that would make us all safer,” Robinson said.

Working at home/sick leave

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), only about 29% of the workforce was able to work from home. Ninety percent of higher-wage workers received paid sick leave compared to lower-income workers, according to BLS. Just 31 percent of workers with salaries in the bottom 10% were allowed paid sick leave.

Low-wage earners suffer greatest 

“There’s a lot of occupational segregation in this country,” said Elise Gould, senior economist at EPI, according to Yahoo Finance. “So when we think of those low-wage workers, they’re more likely to be women, Black and Hispanic workers. This could hit some communities more than others.”

Impact on minority workers 

According to BLS, Black and Hispanic workers are more than twice as likely to receive poverty-level wages compared to their white counterparts. About 8% of Black and Hispanic workers earn wages below the poverty level compared to 4% of the white workforce. Black women workers suffer the most with 10% classified as the working poor, compared to 3.5% of white men.

Marginalization of Black vote

“States with upcoming primary elections should actively consider providing expanded ballot access on an emergency basis for this election and in a permanent, ongoing way for future elections,” Robinson said. “Any restrictions on travel or public gatherings must include provisions or exceptions that will ensure that voters, particularly oft-targeted Black voters, voters reliant on public transit, and other marginalized voters, are not disenfranchised.”

In addition to voting measures, Robinson is concerned that the coronavirus will negatively impact the 2020 Census where “Black people are among the most undercounted populations in the census and an undercount will lead to communities not getting the funding and representation they need or deserve for the next 10 years.”

He suggested the Census Bureau make clear and impactful contingency plans since the coronavirus “will likely hinder the efforts of census workers going door-to-door to ensure participation.”

To complete your Census questionnaire go to: https://my2020census.gov.

WHAT’S BEING DONE

IRS tax filing, payments extended

Tax forms and payments won’t be due to the Internal Revenue Service until July 15 this year, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a tweet, on Friday, Mar. 20.

A bill of assistance

Democrats have released the Families First Coronavirus Response Act bill, which would provide paid sick leave, food assistance and extra funds for unemployment insurance benefits.

Listening for community needs

The NAACP is also preparing policy-makers to consider the most marginalized communities. They will host an emergency town hall on March 22 to address the coronavirus and how communities can be best protected

SBA’s economic injury disaster loans

Offers up to $2 million in assistance for small businesses to provide vital economic support to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue. Call 1-800-659-2955 or e-mail [email protected]

Facebook $100 million program 

Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries. That would be an average of $3,333 per business. Facebook will begin accepting applications in the coming weeks. The company said the program can help businesses with rent and operational costs, maintaining workforce and connecting with customers.

Texas Workforce Commission

For job-hunging and to file unemployment, visit https://twc.texas.gov/jobseekers

Federally-backed loans

Forbearance is being given on student loan interest. Lawmakers have proposed a six-month forbearance on mortgages and other federally-backed loans. Many creditors are issuing statements that they’re working with customers.

Government stimulus package

The White House is proposing a roughly $850 bill emergency stimulus to address the economic impact of the coronavirus. President Donald Trump wants checks sent out to the public within two weeks. Details are still being developed.

Rent and utility assurance

“When we return to ‘normal,’ the normal for most people will be economic hell,” said Rashad Robinson. He called for “a moratorium on evictions and utility shut-offs” for Black and poor communities that are being pressed by the Center for Disease Control to stay home from work as much as possible.

HOUSTON AREA SCHOOLS

  • ALL Schools closed until April 10
  • Governor waives State Standardized test (STAAR)
  • Texas Education Commissioner may extend school closures to end of school year.
  • Schools may teach remotely to maintain state funding and avoid penalties
  • Food Distribution Schedule

Friday, March 20

  • Black Middle School, 1575 Chantilly Ln., 9 a.m. – noon
  • Booker T. Washington High School, 4204 Yale St., 9 a.m. – noon
  • Fondren Middle School, 6333 S. Braeswood Blvd., 1 – 4 p.m.
  • Jones Futures Academy, 7414 St. Lo Rd., 3 – 6 p.m.
  • Key Middle School, 4000 Kelley St., 3 – 6 p.m.
  • North Forest High School, 10726 Mesa Dr., 3 – 6 p.m.

See complete list:  bit.ly/HISDdistributesfood

OPENINGS, CLOSINGS, DONATIONS, CONCERNS

  • All grocery stores remain open
  • 15 days closure: Houston and Harris County restaurants, bars and nightclubs
  • Houston Public Library branches closed
  • H-E-B donated $3 million to food banks and medical resources
  • KROGER donated $3 million to Feed America and No Kid Hungry
  • Dollar General and Foodtown among stores open an hour earlier for seniors
  • Extended closure are a burden for low-income and working parents
  • Students without Internet service cannot access remote learning

HIRING

FACTS VS. FICTION

With all of the information circulating about the coronavirus, we’ve debunked some of the major myths about the pandemic.

Myth: Black people can’t contract COVID-19

Truth: Black people are just as susceptible as the disease doesn’t discriminate. We’re not sure how this rumor started, but one of the first deaths in Louisiana was a Black man.

Myth: There is a vaccine for COVID-19

Truth: Because the virus is so new, there currently is no antiviral medication on the market specified to treat coronavirus.

Myth: Always cough or sneeze into your elbow

Truth: The CDC recommends you cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, throw that tissue away and then wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Droplets from sneezes or coughs that contain the virus can live on clothes or skin surfaces for several hours.

Myth: Face masks stop coronavirus

Truth: While many think face masks are helping, they are not that effective in blocking out tiny particles from the coughs and sneezes of those around you. Also, some who are not used to wearing a mask regularly are likely to touch areas around the face when the mask starts to feel uncomfortable. This only increases your risk of bringing corona-causing germs to your mouth and eyes. The CDC advises that “you do not need to wear a face mask unless you are sick or caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a face mask).”

Myth: Warm weather prevents the spread of coronavirus

Truth: According to the World Health Organization, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in all areas, including areas with hot and humid weather. No matter what climate you live in, taking preventive measures like washing your hands and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing are critical in staving off the spread of the virus.

Myth: Only people who show symptoms are contagious

Truth:  More than half a dozen studies have shown that asymptomatic carriers of corona are causing substantial amounts of infection. 

ALSO TRUE…

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer kills coronavirus. If you’re not able to get near soap and water, alcohol-based hand sanitizer is also an effective way to kill the germs that cause coronavirus. Keep in mind that your hand sanitizer needs to contain at least 60% alcohol to get the job done.

Disinfecting your home is a necessary precaution. Cleaning frequently touched surfaces (tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks and so on) with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants is recommended by the CDC.