Newswire: Congressional Black Caucus’ Coronavirus stimulus proposals protect those who are most at-risk

Written By Royce Dunmore

Rep. Karen Bass, Chair on the Congressional Black Caucus
The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has submitted a sweeping list of proposals that it says elected officials must implement to specifically protect Black people in America and their best interests as the country grapples with the coronavirus crisis.
The group of influential officials from Congress and the Senate sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer with suggestions centered on healthcare, protecting Black-owned businesses and voting rights to be considered as part of the estimated $1 trillion stimulus package to help with the economy during the coronavirus outbreak.
Many of the asks from the list of suggestions were already being discussed in Congress and among local governments, including giving all workers access to paid sick days and paid family and medical leave so that people can seek treatment without fear of losing their jobs or paychecks. The CBC also proposed a nationwide suspension on utility shut-offs as well as a ban of all evictions, foreclosures and repossessions, which has already happened in some parts of the country but not all.
The proposal also got more specific when it comes to Black-owned businesses. For example, it called for a 90-day moratorium on all consumer and small business credit payments (student loans, credit cards, mortgages, car notes, small business loans, personal loans). The CBC also called for $50 billion in new grants for the Small Business Administration to help negatively impacted small businesses, including those that are “minority- and women-owned.” In addition, the CBC proposed government-backed interest-free loans to entrepreneurs, businesses, nonprofits and independent contractors to cover operating expenses and payroll needs in order to keep workers fully employed.
On the voting front, CBC asked for a change of procedure for casting ballots in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. That includes establishing a National Vote-By-Mail system for all remaining primaries and the general election. The group is also seeking an end to voter suppression by restoring Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
For prisoners’ safety, the CBC suggested releasing all juveniles who’ve committed non-violent crimes, ensuring all inmates and staff get coronavirus testing and “releasing incarcerated individuals in prisons, jails, and detention centers through clemency, commutations and compassionate release.”
The CBC also said it wanted additional funding for the expansion of broadband access to ensure all students, including those in rural and urban communities, have access to tele-learning resources since many schools have canceled in-person education. The CBC also reiterated its demands made before the coronavirus hit, such as canceling student debt and providing funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), especially in this time of the coronavirus.
As of Sunday evening, a massive $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill failed to pass the Senate, according to NBC News. Republicans, who needed 60 votes to move forward on the bill, weren’t able to win over Democrats who felt dissatisfied with worker protections in the bill, which was drafted by Republicans. Democrats also felt the rules on corporate bailouts were too lax.
Negotiations on the now proposed $2 trillion stimulus bill are continuing between Senate and House Democrats and Treasury Secretary Manuchin representing the Trump Administration.

Newswire: People facing new ways of life as Corvid 19 has changed everything

By Hamil R. Harris

Bishop T. D. Jakes stands before about 30 people in his Potter’s House sanctuary that seats 8,200 in Dallas.


(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Rev. Grainger Browning, pastor of the Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Fort Washington, Md., is used to preaching to two packed sanctuaries every Sunday. But on Sunday, March 22, Browning and a skeletal staff preached to a mostly empty sanctuary while his members watched on the Internet.
“I feel like a spiritual first responder,” Browning said. “It’s called Live from the Church. We try to duplicate church as much as we can. We have members of the praise team and a skeletal staff.”
Browning’s situation is one example of a new reality for churches around the nation. Even the 8,200-seat sanctuary of Bishop T. D. Jakes’ Potter’s House in Dallas has been virtually empty. As the Coronavirus spread around the nation and world and as state governments and health experts increasingly issue stay at home orders and suggest social distancing, life as usual has become non-existent.
Members of the Class of 2020 are still hoping for their proms, commencement exercises and celebrations that are normal milestones for generations past.
In sports, there are no NBA basketball games, NCAA tournaments or baseball Spring training. And in terms of mass gatherings, going to the movies, eating out, and even worshipping God in church pews has been forbidden for a season. Even weddings and funerals have been curtailed.
As a result of the Corvid 19 virus, this lethal strain of the Corona flu, America is a stranger to herself with frightened and helpless citizens “sheltering in place” behind locked doors in a society where toilet paper has become priceless as indicated by the empty shelves in grocery stores.
“People are losing it. My brother drives a bread truck and he said that his colleague was robbed, said Sean Brown, 39, a financial manager in Severn, Md. “They took his entire bread truck.”
As of this writing, March 22, America had nearly 30,000 people diagnosed with COVID 19, which means America is now number three in the world in terms of a disease that has now killed more than 13,000 around the globe. This is despite glaring headlines and weekly White House briefings that produced more arguments than solutions.
“If ever there is a time to practice humanity — it is now,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in a tweet on Sunday. “The time to show kindness, to show compassion. New Yorkers are tough — but we are also the most courageous community that you have ever seen.”
On Sunday, Sean Brown, the financial manager, a husband and father of two, watched a taped worship service from the University Park Church of Christ. Despite the change, he still has hope through his faith. “It is important to remember who is in control. God is still in control.”
COVID 19 has ushered in an era of “social distancing.” And yet it is easy to find examples of hope in cities and towns and communities across America in terms of faith, family and every aspect of life.
On Twitter, there was a video of a group of Cuban doctors of color in White lab coats and masks arriving in Italy and being greeted by people waiting in the international airport. As restaurants closed, many soup kitchens that regularly feed the homeless, such as Miriam’s Kitchen in Northwest Washington, DC, kept their doors open. But among the most notable changes are the churches which quickly adjusted their empty sanctuaries to computer screens and conference calls.
Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland Tune, Chief Operating Officer for the National Council of Churches, said despite the Corona Virus “Most churches are using creatives to remain connected. They are using zoom, video conferencing, prayer calls. My home church in New York is having prayer callers at 6 am.”
With Easter two weeks away, Browning said that he will have Lenten services every morning between six and seven AM that will be rebroadcast “people can start their day,” but Browning added, “I really missing the people it is like being away from your wife.”
“My concern is for the people. There is concern about people dying but I don’t think I hear a heart for the people who survive. They literally don’t know how they are going to eat.”
Browning of Ebenezer in Maryland said he is really concerned about conducting funerals when there is a restriction. “Right now, can’t have more than ten people. I can’t imagine having a love one dying and there are only 10 people there.”
Even medical doctors are taken aback by the new realities. “We had our church by telephone conference,” said Tracey Burney, a retired urologist who attends Bethany CME Church in Clearwater, Florida. “Being a physician, we are always ready for the worst. But I have never seen anything like this in my wildest dreams.”

Newswire: Census self-response: the antidote to coronavirus impact

Activists aim to maximize Black census response through education campaign
By Khalil Abdullah


TriceEdneyWire.com) – Jeri Green, 2020 Census Senior Advisor for the National Urban League’s Census Black Roundtable, is encouraging African-Americans, and indeed all Americans, to self-respond to the census, in part to allay fears the novel corona virus could be spread to households by a census enumerator, the person who knocks on your door with blank census forms and clipboard in hand.
Even as the Census Bureau has announced a package of strategies to delay door-to-door enumeration and counting the homeless, among other initiatives, eventually the hard work will resume toward fulfilling the constitutional mandate on which so many aspects of American life depends.
This is the first decennial census utilizing the Internet. Phone response is an option as well. Green encouraged using either method as an alternative to the standard nine-question paper census form now arriving at many homes. The paper form, addressed to “Resident” – and not to be mistaken for junk mail — is to be filled out and returned to the Census Bureau by mail. Non-responding addresses trigger a visit by a census enumerator.
“In many of our communities, especially the Black community, a significant portion of our community waits for that knock on the door,” Green said during a national media telebriefing: Addressing Security Information and Privacy Issues, Census2020. The event was sponsored by the Leadership Conference Education Fund in partnership with Ethnic Media Services.
Green was joined by Beth Lynk, LCEF’s Census Counts Campaign Director; Lizette Escobedo, Director of National Census Program, NALEO Educational Fund; John Yang, President and Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice; Ditas Katague, Director, California Complete Count Committee; and Lycia Maddox, Vice President of External Affairs, National Congress of American Indians.
These speakers explained the often similar but also unique obstacles to marshalling their constituents’ responses to the census, one they agree will be one of the most challenging in America’s history and “one of the most urgent civil rights issues facing the country,” Beth Lynk observed.
Yang said concern about the privacy of census responses among Asian American families, particularly those with mixed immigrant status households, was heightened by the Department of Commerce’s efforts to include a question on citizenship on the 2020 census form. He said surveys have shown that a significant percentage of Asian Americans, as high as 30 percent in one poll, still incorrectly think the question is on the form.
Similarly, the citizenship question has roiled the Latino community. Some surveys showed that about half of Latinos still thought it would be included on the form, said Escobedo. “This is a significant concern for us.”
Green also cited the historic lack of trust within the Black community, of how the federal government may use census information, as a looming impediment to a successful count. That same sentiment may depress the response rate from African and Caribbean immigrant residents who are increasingly becoming a percentage of the National Urban League’s constituency.
The NUL and its 90 affiliates now have a presence in 36 states and the District of Columbia with the capacity to potentially reach two million American residents, Green reported. The NUL’s Make Black Count campaign, a collaboration with other organizations and religious leaders, has held national phone telebriefings. March’s event drew well over a thousand participants.
Make Black Count is designed to increase awareness and understanding about elected congressional and state representation as well as the allocation of monetary benefits derived from the census. These tax-derived funds are returned, by population-driven formulas, to states, counties, cities, and towns. The federal contribution to rural hospitals, for example, has moved to the forefront of concerns as the demand for adequate bed space and equipment spike in the throes of the corona virus pandemic.
With the corona virus dominating the news, the census is at risk of being pushed to the margins of the public consciousness. By following the Center for Disease Control’s guidance, Yang said his organization, as are the other telebriefing participants, is factoring in recommendations on how to improve public outreach.
“A number of our grassroots-based organizations are moving more toward phone banks, text banks, to create more of a presence on-line because, certainly tabling opportunities, in-person opportunities are becoming restricted and we want to exercise caution and ensure the safety and health of our volunteers,” Yang said. Escobedo said NALEO, for example, is reaching many Latinos through Facebook.
Yang also is concerned about how messaging about the virus and disease is being distorted. “Getting the facts right matter,” Yang emphasized. “We, unfortunately, are seeing a significant increase in hate incidents around Covid-19, corona virus, directed against the Asian community and this is something we need to stand up against. The reality is that this is a health hazard. It is not specific to one ethnic community. One ethnic community is not the carrier of this health hazard in a manner that is genetically based.”
Lycia Maddox, Vice President of External Affairs, National Congress of American Indians, spoke about the uphill climb to achieving accurate representation of the Native American population. “Indian Country has the highest undercount of 4.9 percent, almost double the next population group,” she said of the 2010 census.
Maddox said NCAI has partnered with other Native American organizations and tribal leaders in efforts to boost the response rate in communities that typically qualify as Hard to Count. HTC is a designation that applies to census tracts where the past history of responses to the census have lagged. Immigrant households, and ones where English is not the primary language, consistently fall under that rubric. But other descriptors — low-income households, rural communities, and lack of robust Internet access — apply to a significant percentage of the Native American presence.
As a consequence, tribal nations also comprise part of California’s 11 million Hard to Count population in a state of 40 million residents. The size of California’s population alone sets it apart from the rest of the country, Katague explained. She said Los Angeles County, where 192 languages are spoken, has a population larger than 42 states. California has committed $187.2 million to achieving a complete count, funding that surpasses the combined financial commitment of the 49 remaining states.
Maddox said the corona virus has made its presence felt among Native Americans in other ways. There are instances of some tribes limiting physical access by outsiders to reservations and communities in order to limit the potential of exposure to the virus. Another concern is that the recruitment of Native American enumerators, already difficult enough, will be negatively impacted. Jeri Green and the NUL are painfully aware of this possibility as well.
“We are concerned about hiring,” Green said. “We know that the Census Bureau has to recruit 2.5 million people to hire 500,000 enumerators. We now worry about a greater attrition rate than they’ve had, where people might just say, ‘Okay, well, I’m out of here. I don’t want to knock on doors because of this virus.’ We don’t know.
“But we have been, all along, trying to shift the dynamic and move the needle in the other way, even before this virus came on, and push self-response. And that’s what we’ve been doing, pushing the telephone lines and self-response because we don’t want those great numbers out there in the non-response universe.”
Yet, one estimate is, at the acme of the census response, there could be as many as eight million hits a day on the census website.
“We just have to hope and pray that the Census Bureau’s infrastructure for telephone questionnaire assistance and Internet response are all functioning,” Green said. “They seem to be all systems go.”
Green, a former census employee, now retired from federal service, said, “We are fighting collectively to ensure that the Black population loses no ground–political, economic or civil rights as a result of the 2020 census. The stakes are too high. We must Make Black Count in the 2020 Census.”

Newswire: Coronavirus reaches African shores – but numbers remain low

South African President Ramaphosa demonstrating greeting by elbow

Mar. 16, 2020 (GIN) – Only a few weeks ago, African leaders were breathing a sigh of relief as the new coronavirus skipped the continent to lodge in Italy, Spain and other European countries.
“Whether it’s a matter of faulty detection, climatic factors or simple fluke, the remarkably low rate of coronavirus infection in African countries, with their fragile health systems, continues to puzzle,” said Amadou Alpha Sall, head of the Pasteur Institute in Dakar, Senegal.
Then a test turned up one positive and then another, giving signs of a new crisis emerging in at least 30 of Africa’s 54 countries, officials said this week.
The most worrying confirmation of a first case came from Somalia, with one of the continent’s weakest health systems after nearly three decades of conflict. Tanzania, Liberia and Benin also announced their first cases.
Moving with all deliberate speed, African nations began imposing travel restrictions as most confirmed cases came from abroad. Algeria cut off all air and sea contact with Europe, and Botswana barred travelers from 18 high-risk countries. French citizens visiting South Africa have been urged to leave as soon as possible.
“Countries like South Korea and China have managed to control this outbreak,” commented Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, regional director for Africa, World Health Organization. “We are learning… Limiting contact between people when you have local transmission is a good thing to do…
“The South African government is striking a good balance,” she added. “Gatherings of people increase the chances of infections spreading. But we must have a balance… I think 100 [maximum number of people allowed to gather in South Africa] is a reasonable number…
“Greeting, hugging, kissing – no!” Dr. Moeti said. “Even elbow bumps require you to come close to somebody… Smile and bow instead… it’s a good thing to do.”
“The reality is this,” said South Africa’s health minister, Zweli Mkhize, commenting on the 62 documented cases, all from abroad. “Individuals that have been infected thus far are people who can afford going on holiday abroad or they travel for business. Those individuals also have accommodation for self-quarantine.
“However, when this outbreak starts affecting our poor communities where families do not have enough rooms or spaces to quarantine those affected, we will experience a crisis.”
The WHO says it has now shifted from “readiness” to “response” mode on the continent with 147 confirmed cases in 15 countries.

Newswire : Rory Gamble named first African American President of the UAW

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Rory Gamble


The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) is one of the largest and most diverse unions in North America, with members in virtually every sector of the economy.
Representing nearly 1 million current and retired members of all ethnicities and backgrounds in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, the UAW has never had an African American president.
Until now.
“I was sitting at home and brainstorming on things that I needed to do, and then the phone started to ring,” stated Rory Gamble, a welder fixture repairman, who joined the UAW in 1974 when he worked at the Ford Motor Co. Dearborn (Mich.) Frame Plant.
“The local NAACP chapter president called, and others,” noted Gamble, who in December was named the 13th president of the 85-year-old union. “It hit me then that, ‘Hey, you’re the first African American president,’” Gamble recalled. “It struck me like a rock. It’s a great accomplishment.”
Gamble observed a distinct and frequently-used quote that dates back to Winston Churchill: ‘With great power, comes great responsibility’.
“There is a great weight that comes with being the first African American president,” Gamble said. “I want to be an example where no one can question my leadership and not use anything against another African American brother or sister to prevent them from being able to ascend to a position like this.”
Gamble accepted the job after his predecessor, Gary Jones, resigned amid a corruption scandal. Despite the cloud of suspicion left behind, Gamble observed that the union must continue to move forward.
“Being an African American already means you have a great deal of responsibility and so I want to make sure that the way I carry myself will keep the doors open for others to follow,” Gamble expressed during an exclusive interview with NNPA Newswire.
“I’ve been blessed. I was able to come up during a time where there was a lot of activism. Unlike today, where a lot of our brothers and sisters get caught up in the digital world, I came up when everything was more hands-on and personal,” Gamble continued.
“You couldn’t hide behind a keyboard. You had to get up and see people and look them in the eye. Looking folks in the eye shows that you have a lot more of yourself invested.” That doesn’t mean Gamble is technologically challenged. “I had to get social media because you have to engage and keep up with the times,” he said.
“I’m very personal, and I love engaging with the members. I try hard to make sure that our union doesn’t get away from that even though we have this digital and electronic stuff. That’s fine, but the downside is that it can be icy when it comes to human relationships, so I like the eye-to-eye contact.”
Gamble, 64, started his UAW career as a welder fixture repairman. Before that, he was a defensive tackle at Northwestern High School in Detroit, where he credited his father, a former elected officer of Local 600, as an early mentor.
In 1975, Local 600 members elected Gamble to serve as a plant trustee. From 1976 to 1979, he was the local’s alternate benefit representative and, later, he served as a bargaining committee chair.
In 1988 Gamble earned an appointment as staff director and administrative assistant for Local 600’s president, with responsibilities for third-stage grievance agendas for all Ford Rouge plants and as editor of UAW Facts, the local’s newspaper, according to his biography.
Since 1987 Gamble’s assignments have included local union health and safety coordinator, employee support services program, education director, civil rights coordinator, fitness center coordinator, and family services and learning center coordinator.
He has served as director of Local 600 Ford units, including Dearborn Engine and Fuel Tank, Dearborn Truck Plant, Milan, Industrial Athlete, and Dearborn Frame. Other assignments have included retirees’ liaison and coordinator of the Rouge Rehabilitation Center.
In 1998 and 2003, Gamble served on the UAW-Ford National Negotiating Team. From 1993 to 2002, he was elected for three terms as the local’s recording secretary. Gamble was elected first vice president of Local 600 in 2002 and re-elected in 2005.
In 1999 Gamble received the Spirit of Detroit award; the 2006 Horace L. Sheffield Jr. Humanitarian Award; and the 2008 Minority Women’s Network (Detroit chapter) Man of the Year award.
“Labor unions have raised the standards of living, that’s pure and simple,” Gamble observed.
“If someone’s family gets into a major health scare, the family could be put into major financial jeopardy. So, the union has provided employees with job security, increased wages and enhanced health care benefits. You can plan for your kids to attend college and other important milestones that you might not otherwise be able to do if you didn’t have that protected status that unions provide.”
Gamble continued:
“I have never sat across the table from a CEO of any major company who didn’t have a contract with that company that guarantees their wages and benefits and even a golden parachute. That same worker will tell the worker in the plant on the floor that they don’t need a union, but every major CEO has his wages and benefits contracted. That’s a big irony.”
Gamble also noted the UAW’s relationship with the Black Press of America had spanned decades because the union and publishers share a common belief in social justice and civil rights.
“People need to know how important the Black Press is and how important the union is,” Gamble said. “Both have accomplished so much together. We do this by making sure that we use all of the available resources to educate our people and let them know how important and relevant the Black Press and the union is especially when they are functioning together. The things we’ve accomplished to uplift society and our people, in general, is something we need to continue to do together.”

Newswire: Voting Rights advocates call on Georgia election officials to protect voters’ rights in the wake of postponing the Presidential Primary Election

Georgia state sign


March 16, 2020 (Atlanta, GA) – ProGeorgia, a group of community-based, civic engagement organizations, called on Georgia election officials to protect voters’ rights in the wake of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger’s announcement that the presidential primary election would be moved from March 24th to May 19th.
The groups said: “The Secretary of State’s decision to move the presidential preference primary to May 19th, which was informed by important public health concerns emanating from the spread of COVID-19, has significant ramifications for Georgia voters. Moving an election midstream, when hundreds of thousands of Georgians have already cast ballots during early voting, is not an easy endeavor in the best of circumstances.
In these challenging times, Georgia election officials are going to have to make difficult decisions and change their processes in order to properly implement this unprecedented change. The devil is in the details, and we are concerned that many voters’ rights will be at risk if Georgia election officials fail to address critical issues in implementing such a significant change in the middle of an election period.
“Postponing the election does not diminish the State’s obligation to ensure that voters have adequate accessible and available means to vote. There are concrete steps that Georgia election officials can take immediately to protect the right to vote in the consolidated May 19th primary election. We recommend that the State increase the time to request and return vote by mail ballots, work with local election officials to educate voters and poll workers, offer more flexible methods for return and collection of ballots based on the potential for postal service delays and reduced staffing, and extend voter registration opportunities to ensure all eligible voters can participate.
“To ensure a successful and inclusive election, we call on Georgia election officials to employ an open and transparent process that allows all voices to be heard and protects voters’ rights during the May 19th primary. We are deeply committed to seeing Georgia through a safe and complete primary election process and welcome the opportunity to work with state and local election officials to ensure that all Georgians have a full and fair chance to exercise their right to vote.”
The following ProGeorgia members have joined ProGeorgia in calling on the Secretary of State to protect voters’ rights: ACLU of Georgia, All Voting is Local – Georgia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Common Cause GA, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO), Georgia Coalition for People’s Agenda, Georgia NAACP, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the League of Women Voters Georgia, Inc, and State Voices.

Newswire: On NAACP phone conference, Surgeon General appeals for trust

By Hazel Trice Edney

Dr. Jerome Adams, U. S. Surgeon General



(TriceEdneyWire.com) – American life as usual has drastically come to a halt around the nation and world due to the Corona virus that has infected approximately 4,900 in 49 states and the District of Columbia at this writing. Churches, schools, sports events; even graduations and other large and even small gatherings are being postponed to abate the spread of the virus.
There have been 95 deaths reported (1.9 percent) with the hardest hit states being Washington State, New York and California. West Virginia is the only state that had not reported any infections as of March 17. Washington and New York are the hardest hit states, both with more than 900 cases each. California follows with 450 cases.
According to the World Health Organization, symptoms may include runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever, pneumonia, and difficulty breathing in the most severe cases.
But none of these facts are any good unless the people hearing them trust the people stating them. That’s the reason the NAACP held a Sunday evening teleconference that engaged more than 21,000 people March 15. What the listeners may not have expected was the matter-of-fact, straight to the point introduction of himself by U. S. Attorney General Dr. Jerome Adams:
“Many of you don’t know me and frankly some of you don’t have a lot of trust in me or this administration. So, I’m going to take just a quick moment to give you some background,” he began.
“I personally grew up in a rural mostly white Southern community. I benefitted from WIC, reduced lunch and other government assistance. All four of my grandparents died prematurely from chronic disease, my brother’s incarcerated due to his problems with and struggles with substance misuse; my mother had a major stroke last year and I’m currently on eight different medications myself.”
Adams continued, “I know what it’s like growing up poor, Black and with minimal access to health care. And I’m personally experiencing the life-long impacts that stem from that. I want you all to know I don’t affiliate with a party and I didn’t take my current job, which pays a whole lot less than being an anesthesiologist does, for political reasons. I’m a Christian and I believe God doesn’t put you where you’ll be comfortable. He puts you where he needs you to be.”
He concluded, “Our issue as people of color are too important to go four years without representation in the highest levels of government. And I have personally had faith that I am put where I am most needed. That said, I spent my life fighting and will keep fighting for the poor, the disadvantaged, the people of color, and I – along with the other health officials on the coronavirus task force…but I want you to hear it from me. I hope I can earn your trust.”
Adams’ words were quite timely given that President Donald Trump who appointed him had, early in the coronavirus spread, publicly dismissed it as a “Democratic hoax.” The now pandemic, which Trump has described as “bad”, has resulted in Trump and top federal medical experts, including Adams, standing front and center on almost a daily basis giving updates on the spread, now declared a “National Emergency” by Trump.
The key now is mitigation, Adams said. “Mitigation means limiting the impact within our communities by social distancing and also protecting the most vulnerable,” Adams said.
According to Coronavirus.gov, the following are the strongest ways to protect yourself:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
Throw used tissues in the trash; then immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
Adams also suggested connecting with each other through Facetime and skype in order to continue social connections and “establish buddy systems” and check in on elderly and vulnerable people by phone to make sure they are alright.
“Connections can give people strength to keep up and fight a national threat. There are resources for managing stress and anxiety at CDC.gov or Coronavirus.gov and the Hotline number 1-800-985-5990.”
According to his official bio, Adams, the 20th surgeon general of the U. S. called, the “Nation’s Doctor”, has a bachelor’s degrees in both biochemistry and psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, a master of public health degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and a medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine.

Newswire: Civil Rights Leaders call on Congress to address disproportionate impact of Coronavirus on Black Americans

Derrick Johnson, NAACP President


(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The NAACP has requested an urgent meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer regarding racial equity in the coronavirus response proposal.
According to a release, “Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League; Melanie Campbell, President and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable; NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson and Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network, insisted that coronavirus response legislation must take racial equity into account.”
“As we often say, when white America catches a cold, Black America gets pneumonia, and never has that metaphor been more apt,” Morial said in a statement. “Urban communities of color are likely to suffer the brunt of the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis and any legislative response must contain targeted relief.”
“We’re concerned about the impact it will have on children who are out of school and don’t have the broadband internet access they need for digital learning at home,” Campbell added, “And comprehensive paid family leave for all is needed now more than ever.”
“Low-income workers, who are disproportionately African-American, are the least likely to have paid sick leave,” said Johnson, NAACP president. “Black workers are more likely to face short-term layoffs or total loss of employment. How is the country going to address their plight?”
Sharpton noted in the release that urban neighborhoods and communities of color often lack access to quality health care facilities.
“What efforts will be made to make testing freely available in urban and poor communities?” Sharpton asked. “We need to make sure that the relief offered in any coronavirus response plan does not bypass the communities most in need.”

Newswire: Zimbabwe tries fine or jail to keep children in school

Children in school in Zimbabwe

Mar. 9, 2020 (GIN) – Zimbabwe is experimenting with a bold attempt to make parents prioritize education and bring down drop-out rates.
 
Harare has amended its laws to make the first 12 years of schooling compulsory. Children are now required by law to stay in school for an extra five years to 16 years of age.
 
It is also now an offence to expel children on the grounds of pregnancy or non-payment of fees.
 
If parents fail to send children to school, they now face up two years in jail, or a $260 fine if they can afford it.
 
Last year at least 60% of the children in primary school were sent home for failing to pay fees, according to the state’s Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVac).
 
As the economy sputters, parents have less to spend on education as they struggle to buy food. National research shows drop out in some areas are as high as 20%.
 
The high drop-out rate has also been blamed on pregnancy, early marriages, the distance from school and a lack of interest.
 
Zimbabwe’s first leader Robert Mugabe, a former teacher who died last year, was praised for the education policies he adopted after independence in 1980.
 
The school system he established gave black Zimbabwean greater access to education as hundreds of state schools were opened, leading to Zimbabweans enjoying among the highest literacy rates in Africa.
 
However, free education ended in the 1990s and in the following decade the education system began to crumble.
 
Some parents, however, believe the government is shirking its responsibilities amidst broken promises to provide free basic education and a chronic shortage of state schools.
 

Newswire : Black leaders call out big insurance over surprise medical billing

By Hazel Trice Edney

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, CEO -NNPA

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Prominent figures in the African-American community are calling on Congress to rein in large insurance companies as lawmakers look to address an increasingly urgent problem in the health care market that falls especially hard on working families, including African-Americans.
The problem is known as surprise medical billing, a situation that occurs when a patient is hospitalized and then receives a hefty bill from a doctor who turns out to be outside of his or her insurer’s network.
The practice is costing American patients tens of millions of dollars in unforeseen medical fees, at a time when many are already burdened by higher premiums and rising co-payments. Nearly half of Americans say they have avoided going to the doctor despite being sick or injured for financial reasons.
Eliminating surprise billing has long been a priority for leaders of both parties. But it is now emerging as a key issue in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, as candidates and other leading Democrats make the case around the country for broader health care reform. Former Vice President Joe Biden invoked the need to end surprise billing in his victory speech on Super Tuesday.
As the issue comes into greater focus, prominent African-American leaders are urging candidates and lawmakers to find a solution that holds health insurers accountable for limited coverage networks and inadequate access to health insurance for minority communities – two forces, they say, that have helped create the surprise billing problem.
Addressing a group of Black ministers in South Carolina recently, Reverend Al Sharpton said solving health care issues disproportionately impacting communities of color must be atop the progressive agenda. Fixing the problem of surprise billing, Sharpton said, needs to go hand in hand with better protection of uninsured and underinsured populations.
Sharpton, who heads the National Action Network, an influential civil rights organization with roots in Harlem and chapters throughout the country, warned about a proposed bill in Congress that would potentially deepen the problem of costs being passed onto patients by giving insurers even more control over the prices they pay out-of-network doctors working in emergency hospital settings.
He said the proposed bill must be defeated because it fails to protect the underinsured and the uninsured. Dealing these specific policies that affect the disadvantaged is what is necessary in the 2020 election, Sharpton said in a recent speech at the Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, S.C., according to the Post and Courier.
Sharpton referred to a current bill before Congress aimed at addressing a practice known as “surprise billing,” which leaves patients on the hook for medical expenses even if they have insurance. The legislation needs to be defeated and replaced with something that would protect the underinsured and those with no insurance at all, he said,
describing it as one of those “issues that’s for the good of the people.”
Dr. Benjamin Chavis, President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and former Executive Director of the NAACP, directed even sharper criticism at insurance companies. In a piece published by Black Press USA, Chavis  derided insurance executives for putting profits above patients.
“This outrageous situation benefits one group and one group alone: powerful insurance executives, who have managed to get off the financial hook for such bills, even as insurers shrink insurance coverage networks to wring more and more profits out of the system,” Chavis wrote.
Chavis expressed strong opposition to any legislation that would give insurers more control over health care prices.
Experts say surprise medical billing is most common after emergency treatment on nonsurgical hospital visits, when doctors and specialists often work together in teams to provide the care patients need. For example, in the case of an emergency procedure, a patient’s primary surgeon might be in her insurance network, but other clinicians who assist the surgeon, such as the anesthesiologist, might be out of network. In certain instances, the patients are left to foot the bill for out-of-network services.
Doctors have said that years of harmful cost-cutting measures taken by insurers are to blame. Many patients have been unwittingly pushed into highly restricted and increasingly narrow coverage networks, they say, leaving them with unanticipated costs insurers refuse to cover in full or at all. Doctors say insurance companies should be required to pay fair out-of-network rates, as determined by an independent arbitrator, for emergency care.
Insurers vehemently oppose that approach, instead calling for new rules that would enable them
to limit how much they pay for emergency care provided by physicians who do not contract with them. They favor a system in which they would automatically pay median in-network rates for out-of-network services.
The dispute between doctors and insurers reached a boiling point last year, when it appeared that insurers were going to get their way. A bill modeled on legislation passed in California in 2016 would have put in place the type of benchmarking system insurance companies want.
Doctors and hospitals, for their part, raised concerns about ceding too much power to insurers to control rates. If only required to pay median in-network rates for out-of-network emergency services, the doctors and hospitals said, insurers could artificially drive down those rates by further restricting coverage networks.
Apparently, those concerns were shared by at least some members of Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reported to have expressed serious concerns in private, saying “we are not going to give a handout to big insurance companies.” The bill was ultimately defeated.
Now, as Congress returns to the issue early into the 2020 legislative session, it appears as though the debate could be layered into a larger conversation among progressives about the future of the nation’s health care system.
The insistence of influential Black leaders that surprise bills are a symptom of a coverage accessibility problem for communities of color seems to open up a new front for Democrats looking to curtail the power of major insurance companies.