President Trump has mocked concern about the coronavirus and pooh-poohed the risk from it since the virus was identified in China three months ago. This is very unfortunate because it has become clear that early testing of people for the virus and isolation of those infected are very important measures in the fight to curb the spread of this deadly disease.
The first cases of COVID-19 were identified in the United States and South Korea at about the same time in late January. South Korea immediately mobilized to make coronavirus test kits. As of mid-March, more than 222,000 people there had been tested. This aggressive testing has helped authorities allocate resources to the worst-hit areas, isolating and providing early treatment for infected individuals. New infections are now dropping in South Korea.
In contrast, Trump actually called the coronavirus a hoax perpetrated by the Democrats at a campaign rally in Charleston, S.C., at the end of February. His loyal followers in the audience cheered, but about 80,000 people had already fallen ill worldwide.
After months of denial and inaction, Trump recently did a flip-flop on the coronavirus. Better late than never. He claimed he know all along the coronavirus would be a pandemic. If he did know all along, that makes his lack of leadership and long delay in taking action all the more damning. The result has been a more rapid spread of infections and preventable death sentences for some.
A transparent process
At a time when the nation and Winston-Salem face unprecedented, simultaneous public-health and economic emergencies, Housing Justice Now and our allies applaud city and Forsyth County officials for organizing a “COVID-19 Response Fund for Forsyth County,” to aid “communities (that) are disproportionately impacted by coronavirus and the economic consequences of the outbreak.”
For the fund to be deployed in the most democratic, transparent and effective way possible, the COVID-19 Response Fund will need to take these steps:
- Create a citizens’ oversight committee, with representation from marginalized groups, charged with developing a fair methodology for choosing recipients.
- Ensure that money goes directly to individuals in need — no money for nonprofit staffing/administrative costs; no money for landlords, Realtors or corporations seeking to cover losses.
- Ensure that the city and county deliver a substantial amount of money to the fund, because a fund dominated by private money will ultimately serve private interests.
- Deliver absolute transparency regarding how the money is being distributed.
- Strive to house everyone in the city, because sheltering in place is impossible without shelter.
- Ensure that undocumented people can apply for and receive funds without fear of harassment from immigration authorities, by guaranteeing the security of sensitive information.
In dire times, functioning communities pull together to make sure everyone makes it through. With these steps, the COVID-19 Response Fund can turn unfathomable chaos and trauma into an engine for a better and more just future for us all.
Phillip Carter and Dan Rose
Core members, Housing Justice Now
A clean bill
Shame on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats in Congress! The coronavirus bill should have been a clean bill with nothing but matters relating to that subject. Before she came back from California, Congress had gotten most of the work done on the bill, and could have already had it done and signed. Instead, she increased the size of this bill to well over 1,000 pages with many expensive items not related to relief for American health workers doctors, nurses, etc., and relief for the average citizen out of a job, but mostly for the Democrats’ political agenda.
As I write, the bill is still in Congress, more people are dying by the day in this country and many more will.
This amounts to extortion of the country for the benefit of a few very selfish politicians — “Do what we want or die until you do.” This is no time for politically aimed deals. Action is needed now on an already very limited time scale for effectively blocking this disease.
Pelosi and company are now deliberately killing our citizens daily. They are solely responsible for needlessly increasing the suffering and loss of life here.
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