The New York Times reports on the “coronavirus economy”: “In an economy that has been hailed for its record-shattering successes, the most basic necessities — food, shelter and medical care — are all suddenly at risk… Certainly, the outbreak and attempts to curb it have created new hardships. But perhaps more significantly, the crisis has revealed profound, longstanding vulnerabilities in the economic system… At the same time, the cost of other necessities like housing has shot up. Millions of renters spend more than half their incomes on housing. Middle-income households, too, have been hit by escalating housing costs. Since 2000, a steadily growing share of this group has spent more than a third of earnings on rent. For years, households have strained to navigate this cut-to-the bone economy with varying success. The coronavirus shock has made the economic precariousness — usually seen in scattershot fashion — evident everywhere at once. “A lot of the people in the economy are living at the edge, and you have an event like this that pushes them over,” Mr. Stiglitz said. “And we are unique in the advanced world in having people at the edge without a safety net below them.”
An op-ed in the SF Examiner explores the challenges community health centers face: “Community health centers serve nearly 29 million Americans, including 1 in 7 of all Californians, and are part of the backbone of the health care safety net. Yet year after year, we face an existential and financial crisis, which is particularly amplified amidst the COVID-19 pandemic as federal funding dwindles, personal protective equipment (PPE) [is] scarce, and outpatient visits dramatically drop. The future of Community Health Centers is in peril… Community health centers are the backbone of the healthcare safety net and cannot be overlooked as essential health care providers during this ongoing pandemic. Failure to adequately fund or support organizations like NEMS will result in an even more dire public health crisis that will cripple our healthcare system. As unemployment claims and lay-offs surge across the nation, community health centers and the safety net will be even more integral to our system of care in the coming months, and will be necessary to provide medical care for the countless Americans who have no other healthcare options. If we are to forge ahead with a fighting chance at containing COVID-19, community health centers must be part of the solution now, and in the months and years to come.”
The Guardian reports on the effects of the pandemic on US kids’ mental health: “At least 55.1 million students have been affected by school closures during the pandemic, roughly 97% of all public and private school students in the US, according to Education Week. Classes have gone virtual and, in some cases, are pre-recorded instead of live. Huge swaths of kids are ditching classes and pre-existing inequalities within school districts are only getting worse despite schools scrambling to supply students with the technology they need to keep learning... Minority communities are shouldering more grief than others, as victims of the disease in some parts of the country are disproportionately black and Latino. “The mental health burden on kids from this is not gonna be equally distributed because, you know, the major losses are not equally distributed,” Vinson said.
A federal court struck down the US Department of Agriculture's 2018 school meal rule change that threatened to roll back nutrition standards for sodium, whole grains, and dairy products.
A new report from Trust for America’s Health tracks the impacts of chronic underfunding of public health infrastructure and makes recommendations for policies and investments. “COVID-19 has shined a harsh spotlight on the country’s lack of preparedness for dealing with threats to Americans’ well-being,” said John Auerbach, President and CEO of Trust for America’s Health. “Years of cutting funding for public health and emergency preparedness programs has left the nation with a smaller-than-necessary public health workforce, limited testing capacity, an insufficient national stockpile, and archaic disease tracking systems – in summary, twentieth-century tools for dealing with twenty-first-century challenges.”
California governor Gavin Newsom announced a $125 million plan to provide disaster relief funds to undocumented Californians.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced a “slow streets” initiative, closing 74 miles of streets to car traffic to provide more space for pedestrians and bicyclists to move freely and maintain physical distance. “The news was especially welcome in East Oakland, a neighborhood historically overlooked and impoverished, residents said at a press conference about the initiative on Friday. Many East Oakland residents continue to work, despite the shelter-in-place orders, said one community advocate, often walking to their jobs to do so. Any effort to make streets safer is good news for the community, he said. “Some of us have to survive and we survive by working,” he said at a Friday press conference. “Living in East Oakland, every day is an emergency.””
Genoveva Islas, who leads Mujeres Poderosas Amorosas, wrote an op-ed for the Fresno Bee this week on the risks of domestic violence immigrant women face during the lockdown and the need for support: “As a community advocate who supports some of the most vulnerable yet hardest-working people in my Central Valley region, I’m finding an almost brutal irony in the use of the term “shelter in place” as a safety strategy for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. We need to consider the factors in our communities that create safety for women and build those, such as equal pay, affordable housing and access to resource centers.”
PI's Alisha Somji & Lisa Fujie Parks share what we're learning from our community partners as we all learn to live with COVID-19 in a new blog post. Read more for ideas on supporting healthy relationships, identifying emerging needs, ensuring safe use of public spaces like parks, getting creative about sustaining social connections, and planning for life beyond the pandemic.