An op-ed in the Mercury News argues that “radical inequality makes sacrifices required much greater for some who are excluded from common benefits, eroding ethical and practical foundations of emergency response… In the long run, we must integrate two moral languages that weaken each other when compartmentalized: social justice, and the common good. Health care for the vulnerable — frail elderly, the homeless, immigrants and refugees, the un- and under-insured — is often described as a social justice issue. Conversely, pandemic planning is often framed by the ethical challenge to protect the common good. But social justice is intrinsic to the common good. And the common good cannot be advanced without social justice.”
Farmers markets remain open as essential businesses in California, supporting local agriculture and providing access to fresh foods in open-air settings. “I was really worried for a minute that they were going to shut us down,” says Adriana Silva, co-owner of Tomatero Organic Farm, a 200-acre operation in Watsonville, some 85 miles south of San Francisco. She sells almost exclusively at 12 farmers’ markets across the Bay Area. “There should be no question that farmers’ markets are part of the food system.” But the markets aren’t enough to make up for their sudden shortfall in revenue. So farmers are racing to embrace online sales, too—updating their websites to accept online orders and assembling farm boxes for delivery. Andy Naja-Riese, whose Agricultural Institute of Marin operates eight markets in the Bay Area, is working with app-maker What’sGood to help his farmers ramp up mobile transactions. And at the San Francisco ferry plaza farmers’ market, farm boxes are being set up for curbside pick-up.”
The Environmental Protection Agency announced what the NY Times describes as a “sweeping relaxation of environmental rules in response to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing power plants, factories and other facilities to determine for themselves if they are able to meet legal requirements on reporting air and water pollution… Companies are normally required to report when their factories discharge certain levels of pollution into the air or water. “In general, the E.P.A. does not expect to seek penalties for violations of routine compliance monitoring, integrity testing, sampling, laboratory analysis, training, and reporting or certification obligations in situations where the E.P.A. agrees that Covid-19 was the cause of the noncompliance and the entity provides supporting documentation to the E.P.A. upon request,” the order states. It said the agency’s focus during the outbreak would be “on situations that may create an acute risk or imminent threat to public health or the environment” and said it would exercise “discretion” in enforcing other environmental rules… Cynthia Giles, who headed the E.P.A. enforcement division during the Obama administration, said: “This is essentially a nationwide waiver of environmental rules. It is so far beyond any reasonable response I am just stunned.””
The Washington Post reports on epidemiologists’ efforts to predict the course of COVID-19 pandemic, and how the politicization of the pandemic response has added further complications to those calculations, including efforts by leaders like Brazilian President Jair Bolsanaro to end lockdowns. “Running beneath it all, in a continuous loop through our national psyche, are basic questions leaders are struggling to answer: When can we safely lift these quarantines? How many people could die if we do it too early? Just how dangerous will this pandemic turn out to be? And what exactly should be our next step? This is why epidemiology exists. Its practitioners use math and scientific principles to understand disease, project its consequences, and figure out ways to survive and overcome it. Their models are not meant to be crystal balls predicting exact numbers or dates. They forecast how diseases will spread under different conditions. And their models allow policymakers to foresee challenges, understand trend lines and make the best decisions for the public good.”
The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project is tracking eviction moratoriums and rent freezes in jurisdictions across the US.
A letter to the editor by PI’s Manal Aboelata ran in this week’s LA Times, calling for safe management of parks and other outdoor recreation, rather than closures and criminalization of use: “My teenage sons, like other Los Angeles Unified School District students, are stuck at home. They don’t just want to go for a walk. They should be able to go to one of our local parks to exercise. (“No, seriously. Stay home,” editorial, March 23). But I’m scared about their safety now that golf courses and basketball and tennis courts are off-limits. I fear that the health protection and police powers of the state are set to converge in a way that will be especially dangerous for boys and men of color — the people most likely to be over-policed in our public spaces. The benefits of regular physical activity are real and long-lasting. Does the risk of illness and death from COVID-19 for the general population outweigh the benefits of exercise, nature contact and fresh air? A singles match of tennis easily meets “social distancing” recommendations. Can’t we find ways to manage recreation facilities without outlawing their use? Parks are public health.”
Cities United shared a coronavirus resource page addressing impacts on Black boys and men and their communities.
Since people in the United States, Italy, Spain, India, Brazil, and other countries must now physically distance, they're finding new ways to connect. Atlas Obscura features a piece on how people have found creative ways to bond. "Music has been shared from rooftops, exercise classes across balconies, messages of faith and creativity posted on windows...In these alarming and unusual times, windows, balconies, and roofs have become more than architectural details, but stages for the human spirit to shine."