Briefing for July 13-17, 2020 on COVID-19 and Low-Income Communities

Briefing for July 13-17, 2020 on COVID-19 and Low-Income Communities

We are struck that one of the few certainties about the coronavirus outbreak is that low-income communities and workers in low-income, service sector occupations will be disproportionately impacted. Likely in devastating fashion.

One step in combatting this will be to share information about what is happening and what can be done.  That’s why we are offering this daily news service summarizing relevant stories, and a concise weekly summary alternative as well.  You can see it below.

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Briefing for July 17, 2020

Millions of seniors live in households with school-age children: A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis finds about 6% of people age 65 or older, or about 3.3 million people, lived in a household with a school-age child (ages 5-18) in 2018. While nearly half of older adults living with a school-age child are white, older people of color are significantly more likely to live with a school-age child compared to their white counterparts. Nearly one in five (19%) Asian and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander older adults live with a school-age child, as do 17% of Hispanic older adults, 13% of American Indian or Alaska Native older adults, and over one in ten (11%) Black older adults. In contrast, 4% of older white adults lives with a school-age child.

The financial toll of COVID-19 deaths: Losing a loved one unexpectedly is never easy. For a low-income family during a global pandemic, it can be overwhelming. In New York City, more than 23,000 people have most likely died from COVID-19, and the deaths have been concentrated in low-income neighborhoods. About 19% of the city’s population lives in poverty. Organizations in New York City have stepped in to help families with funeral costs and related matters in communities hit hard by the disease, but their money and resources are strained.

Asian Americans facing high COVID-19 fatality rate: In San Francisco, a steady trend in coronavirus deaths has gone largely unnoticed until recently: Asian Americans consistently account for nearly half of COVID-19 deaths. For a city that is one-third Asian American, the disproportionate number of deaths appears striking, yet this highlights an even more worrisome statistic — Asian Americans experience a four times higher case fatality rate (CFR) than that of the overall population (5.2% versus 1.3%). Further investigation revealed that the relatively high CFR in San Francisco reflects a pattern found across many states and counties whose populations are at least 5% Asian American.

Should Black and Latino people get priority access to a vaccine? Melinda Gates is among those who’ve suggested Black communities should get early access to a vaccine. But some say that could stigmatize people of color.

Minimum wage workers have difficulty affording rent in any state: Even as the pandemic brings economic devastation to many working families, full-time minimum wage workers cannot afford a two-bedroom rental anywhere in the U.S. and cannot afford a one-bedroom rental in 95% of U.S. counties, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual “Out of Reach” report. In fact, the average minimum wage worker in the U.S. would need to work almost 97 hours per week to afford a fair market rate two-bedroom and 79 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom, NLIHC calculates.

Sen. Kamala Harris releases housing plans as eviction bans begin to lapse: The legislation, which Harris (D-CA) plans to introduce next week, would ban evictions and foreclosures for a year while giving tenants up to 18 months to pay back missed payments. The current federal ban on evictions — which only covers the roughly 1 in 4 rental units in the country with a federally backed mortgage — expires July 24.

Delaying elective procedures can cause long-term health problems for patients and hospitals: Nearly half of adult Americans say they or someone in their household has postponed some type of medical care since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., according to a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Fear of exposure to the virus in a hospital or doctor’s office is likely a primary reason for many of those postponements. A pause in elective surgeries and other procedures mandated by most state governors over the past several months is another. While many of those procedures may not have been deemed immediately necessary by health-care providers in the midst of a global pandemic, medical professionals say those delays potentially have long-term ramifications, both for the health of the patients and that of the hospital systems that care for them. 

Taking stock  America at an inflection point: The COVID-19 response in the U.S. has exposed deep systemic inequities. Can the pandemic serve as a catalyst for social change? Join Melody Barnes, chair of the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions, and John Bridgeland, former director of the U.S. Domestic Policy Council, for the July 22nd conversation. You can sign up here. Presented by the Hurst Lecture Series in collaboration with the Forum for Community Solutions.

NYC schools to offer childcare for 100,000 kids when schools partially reopen: New York city will offer childcare for 100,000 kids who will be unable to attend school full time in the fall, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday. New York’s public schools plan to offer a mix of in-person classes and remote learning when a new school year starts, with students going to school one to three days a week in order to cut the number of people in buildings and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Briefing for July 16, 2020

Black applicants faced discrimination in securing PPP loans: From Politico: “White applicants for Paycheck Protection Program loans were treated better than Black applicants, according to a study by an activist group that fights discrimination. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition sent Black and white testers with similar profiles to talk to banks about securing PPP loans to help their small businesses stay afloat during the coronavirus crisis. They found ‘different levels of encouragement to apply for loans, different products offered and different information provided by bank representatives.'”

Young people of color with pre-existing conditions face elevated COVID-19 risk: For younger people of color, who are more likely to experience chronic health conditions associated with poor outcomes from COVID-19 at higher rates, the reality is particularly grim. “You combine long-standing health inequities and a health system with essential worker status and with underlying conditions, it is a perfect storm for a population we really need to look out for,” said Dr. Atul Nakhasi, a primary care physician and policy adviser at the Department of Health Services in Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest health system that serves a low-income area. As of mid-June, age-adjusted hospitalization rates released by the CDC were highest among non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native and non-Hispanic Black persons, followed by Hispanic or Latino persons, suggesting minority groups regardless of age have higher rates of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 than non-Hispanic white persons.

One-two punch of extreme heat and coronavirus hits people of color hardest: A new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) suggests that the people of color are now being hit hardest by the one-two punch of heat and COVID-19. According to the UCS press release, “Those without air conditioning may be forced to seek shelter in public places, putting them at increased risk of infection.” The UCS analysis examined 26 populous U.S. counties expected to endure extreme heat through July 15. Key findings include:

  • COVID-19 was surging in 22 of the counties.
  • Some counties still had inadequate cooling or air-conditioning resources.
  • For counties reporting racial data, all but one indicated that Latinx, Indigenous, and Black people were experiencing disproportionately higher impacts compared to white populations.

As evictions bans expire, many low-income renters turn to credit cards: From Talk Poverty: “Two widely used rental management software companies, Entrata and MRI, used data from around the country to report spikes in credit card rent payments of up to 7% percent compared to spring of last year. Other initial studies indicate that up to 18% of families using their credit cards to make rent have done so for two months in a row. Meanwhile, housing policy experts are beginning to warn lawmakers about the long-term implications of the practice. ‘Of course the question then becomes, on down the road, how will they pay those credit cards off?’ Andrew Aurand, vice president of research at the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said of lower-income renters. ‘It’s troubling. It’s concerning.’”

1.3 million people file first-time unemployment claims: Another 1.3 million people filed first-time jobless claims on a seasonally adjusted basis last week, according to the Department of Labor. That’s down 10,000 from the prior week’s revised level. On an unadjusted basis,1.5 million people filed first-time claims, up almost 109,000 from the week before. The seasonal adjustments are traditionally used to smooth out the data, but that has tended to have the opposite effect during the pandemic.

California fails to protect Latino workers as coronavirus ravages communities of color: As California sees a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, a group that has been especially hard hit are Latinos, who make up nearly 39% of the state’s population but 55% of its COVID-19 cases. According to recent L.A. County Department of Public Health reports, Latino residents are more than twice as likely as white residents to contract the virus. In San Francisco, of thousands tested in the Mission district in a study, 95% of people who tested positive were Latinos.

Rural schools brace for pandemic’s challenges in fall reopening: All over the country, the forced shut down of many schools due to the coronavirus ultimately transformed the ways teachers teach and students learn. It has also challenged long-held views of the roles of parents, teachers, and students in the education system. The heavy reliance on remote learning, in particular, has magnified existing socioeconomic disparities in rural areas, from access to the internet and devices to the willingness and the capability of parents to steer learning at home. 

Low-income students fight to defy college dropout stats during pandemic: Many low-income students faced even greater challenges completing their studies from home after campuses shut down. Yet they can’t afford to wait out the pandemic in hopes that life and school will return to normal. 

Briefing for July 15, 2020

Warren, Pressley ask HHS for answers on disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D) issued a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday requesting a report detailing the Trump administration’s response to racial health disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak. The letter, which highlights the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on communities of color, represents another push from Democrats for President Donald Trump to take action to alleviate the damage of the virus on people of color.

New poll illustrates how coronavirus attitudes differ by race: People of color in America are far more likely to have serious worries about the coronavirus’s effect on their families and their economic situations than whites, according to new data from an NBC News/SurveyMonkey Weekly Tracking Poll. 51% of nonwhite adults say they are “very” worried that they or a relative will be exposed to the virus, compared to just 29% of whites. Overall, a combined 79% of nonwhites in America say they’re “very” or at least “somewhat” worried about exposure, versus 65% of white adults.

Latinx residents fear the toll from coronavirus: The Kaiser Family Foundation released new research last week that identified 33 states as hotspots of COVID-19 in the U.S., 23 of which were in the South and West. According to the study, just over half (51%) of people in the U.S. reside in these 23 states, but they are home to seven in 10 of all Hispanic individuals (71%). People who identify as Latinx are four times more likely to be hospitalized than white people, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts say the Hispanic community has been disproportionately hurt by the coronavirus pandemic due to their jobs as essential workers and multigenerational living conditions.

As coronavirus raged, meatpackers of color bore the brunt: Worker advocacy groups have filed a civil rights complaint against meat giants Tyson Foods and JBS with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, alleging the companies’ failure to prevent novel coronavirus outbreaks among largely Black and Latino workers amounted to racial discrimination.

A teenager didn’t do her online homework So, a judge sent her to juvenile detention: ProPublica Illinois shares the story of how a 15-year-old in Michigan was incarcerated during the coronavirus pandemic after a judge ruled that not completing her schoolwork violated her probation. “It just doesn’t make any sense,” said the girl’s mother.

Strategies for completing college during COVID-19: Alexander Mayer and Alyssa Ratledge of MRDC write for Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity: “The COVID-19 pandemic has already exacerbated inequities in higher education. Educators fear that the pandemic and ensuing recession will make it impossible for many students to start, or to continue, their college education this fall. No one knows yet how the college landscape will look this fall. Fortunately, however, we do have a lot of research evidence on ‘what works’ in higher education that can illuminate better ways of supporting students, especially low-income students, during the pandemic and through to graduation day.”

Youth summer jobs go virtual: Summer jobs programs have long been a popular way for mayors to keep young people productive while school is out, while offering career development and a total of as much as $2,000 in wages — a big lift for families with low incomes. Programs in a number of cities have been shown to have positive impacts in reducing crime and violence. But this year’s programs look very different than in summers past. Budget pressures, a shaky job market, continuing COVID-19 lockdown measures, and health considerations have forced city leaders to make massive changes to these programs — and be creative about how to put young people to work safely.

Administration backs off plan to restrict international students to only in-person classes: The Trump administration on Tuesday dropped its much-criticized plan to require international college students to leave the United States unless they are enrolled in the fall term in at least one face-to-face class.

COVID-19 turns college towns into ghost towns: “When a university sneezes, the town gets pneumonia. Now when the university has pneumonia, what does that mean for the town?” Stephen Gavazzi, professor of human sciences at Ohio State University, said. “College towns have shops, bars, restaurants, hotels and apartments entirely dependent on students.”

A future of work that complements family life: Abby McCloskey and Angela Rachidi write for The Institute for Family Studies: “In response to the COVID-19 crisis, many workers have traded in their corporate offices for a makeshift workspace at the kitchen table. It’s been an unexpected adjustment, but the new rhythms of teleworking point to a promising future for families — one where flexible work practices support parents and their children alike.”

As COVID-19 safeguards end, a wave of evictions looms: Later this month, the CARES Act moratorium that protects an estimated 1 in 3 rental units will expire. When it does, millions of Americans will become vulnerable to a legal process in which 90% of landlords typically have lawyers while only 10% of tenants do. Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, told Law360 that without significant federal intervention, “…there will be a wave of evictions and a spike in homelessness. In fact, the wave has already begun — evictions are happening now, and they’re happening in states where new coronavirus cases are surging,” she said. “We’re running out of time to prevent the wave from becoming a tsunami.”

How local governments can advance health equity through their built environments: Emily Bramhall and Joseph Schilling of the Urban Institute write that, “…to ensure all residents have equitable opportunities to achieve good health, municipal leaders and nonprofit partners could consider reexamining and applying a health equity lens to the systems and policies affecting their communities’ built environments. Applying a health equity lens would require all community stakeholders — from municipal staff to public health officials, to community organizations and advocates — to pursue antiracist planning principles and processes and make targeted investments in underserved neighborhoods so residents have access to the same healthy environments as their more-resourced counterparts.”

Briefing for July 14, 2020

A record 5.4 million Americans have lost health insurance, study says: The coronavirus pandemic stripped an estimated 5.4 million Americans of their health insurance between February and May, a stretch in which more adults became uninsured because of job losses than have ever lost coverage in a single year, according to a new analysis. The study, to be released Tuesday by the nonpartisan consumer advocacy group Families U.S.A., found that the estimated increase in uninsured laid-off workers over the three-month period was nearly 40% higher than the highest previous increase, which occurred during the recession of 2008 and 2009. In that period, 3.9 million adults lost insurance.

Workers pushed to the brink as they continue to wait for delayed unemployment checks: Four months into the worst recession since the Great Depression, tens of thousands of workers across the country have filed for jobless claims but have yet to receive payments. Many are now in dire financial straits.

I can’t keep doing this’  Small businesses pushed to the brink: More owners are permanently shutting their doors after new lockdown orders, realizing that there may be no end in sight to the crisis.

The Paycheck Protection Program worked as it was supposed to; That’s the problem: From Emily Steward for Vox’s Recode: “The controversy surrounding the PPP, which supports businesses with 500 employees or fewer, has a lot to do with a disconnect between the program’s design and how Americans think about business. The real goal of the PPP was to keep American workers on payroll, not to simply keep small businesses going. And so the majority of the money was disbursed to businesses with more employees, rather than to tiny ones with small staffs. That’s why a program widely perceived as being meant to boost the United States’ most vulnerable small businesses ended up prioritizing businesses that aren’t actually that small. As the program nears a close — the last day for applications was extended from June 30 to August 8 — and it’s unclear whether there will be another round of loans, Recode examined the successes and failures of the PPP, as well as why the program ended up being so controversial.”

Seventeen states sue to block student visa rules: A legal battle between universities and the Trump administration over international students and online learning escalated on Monday, ahead of a critical federal court hearing.

Pandemic erases years of financial gains, particularly for people of color, women, gig workers, the young: The first months of the COVID-19 pandemic largely wiped out three years of financial gains in the United States, with more than half of Americans reporting their financial health has been compromised. People of color, women, younger generations and small business owners were among those disproportionately affected, Prudential’s 2020 Financial Wellness Census finds.

Imperial County, California’s COVID-19 epicenter: A lynchpin of the nation’s food chain, agriculture-rich Imperial County is the epicenter of California’s COVID-19 pandemic. Its infection rate is six times as high as California’s as a whole and victims are overwhelming its two hospitals.

Why extreme heat is so alarming for the fight against COVID-19: The combination of extreme heat and a fast-spreading virus in the Sun Belt is now creating a new set of problems that could undermine efforts to control the pandemic. From hampering surge capacity plans for hospitals to increasing people’s likelihood of getting exposed to the virus while sheltering indoors from the heat, heat can make things harder.

Heat wave could make homeless even more susceptible to COVID-19: Some homeless people have decided sleeping outside allows more personal freedom and is a safer option. But with a “massive heat dome” expected to cover much of the country this week and this summer projected to be significantly hotter than average, the nation’s more than 200,000 unsheltered homeless individuals face a set of weather-related dangers on top of the pandemic. 

One in 4 teachers at risk for severe coronavirus infection: Whether or not schools are set to reopen in the fall is still being discussed, leaving millions of students and academic professionals in an uncertainty-limbo until public health experts make a decision to hold in-person classes or to have students learn remotely. New data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, however, may guide public health experts to an answer; a new report suggests that approximately 24% of teachers are at a greater risk for becoming infected with a serious coronavirus infection. Put differently, that figures accounts for almost 1.5 million teachers, or roughly 1 in 4.

Building affordable housing could help churches survive COVID-19 financial hit: From Bloomberg City Lab: “Americans were already going to church less and less before the coronavirus shut down large social gatherings. After physical church attendance fell to zero for months during lockdown, the financial troubles caused by waning religiosity were thrown into sharp relief. But the situation, seemingly grim, has been cast as an opportunity by affordable-housing advocates and religious leaders working to combat homelessness. Religious institutions own thousands of acres of land in the U.S., and amid falling membership and participation, calls to convert surplus faith property and places of worship themselves into housing have gained traction. ‘Land that belongs to faith communities is supposed to be for the services of the vulnerable,’ said Monica Ball, who helps lead the Yes in God’s Back Yard (YIGBY) movement in San Diego. ‘If [the coronavirus] leaves us with more open space to build more desperately needed housing, amen.’”

The parent trap: Under stay-at-home orders, mothers — and especially working-class mothers who have no savings or paid childcare to fall back on — are at the end of their rope.

Briefing for July 13, 2020

About 14 million children in the U.S. aren’t getting enough to eat: From Lauren Bauer at the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution: “I find that 13.9 million children lived in a household characterized by child food insecurity in the third week in June, 5.6 times as many as in all of 2018 (2.5 million) and 2.7 times as many than did at the peak of the Great Recession in 2008 (5.1 million). During the week of June 19-23, 17.9% of children in the United States live in a household where an adult reported that the children are not getting enough to eat due to a lack of resources.”

Growing hotspots in South and West could widen disparities for people of color: From the Kaiser Family Foundation: The shifting surge in outbreaks to the South and West will likely exacerbate the disparate effects of COVID-19 for people of color, who already are facing a higher burden of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths as well as a larger economic toll compared to their white counterparts. Hispanic people may be particularly hard hit as outbreaks rise in these areas. Just over half (51%) of people in the U.S. reside in these 23 Southern and Western hotspot states, but these states are home to seven in ten of all Hispanic individuals (71%). Moreover, roughly six in ten Asian (59%) and American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) (57%) people live in these states, as do over half (51%) of Black people. Overall, nearly two-thirds of people of color (62%) reside in these states, compared to less than half of white people (43%).”

Latinos now twice as likely as whites to get COVID-19 in Los Angeles County: Latino residents of Los Angeles County are contracting the coronavirus at a much faster pace than other racial and ethnic groups and are twice as likely to have contracted the virus than white residents. 

Death toll is twice as high among people of color under age 65 as for white Americans: The coronavirus proved substantially deadlier to people of color under the age of 65 than to their white counterparts in the early days of the pandemic, an in-depth analysis released Friday found. The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the agency’s most comprehensive analysis of the demographics of those who died of COVID-19. Researchers analyzed data for about 52,000 confirmed deaths between mid-February and mid-April.

A ‘huge hole’ in testing data makes it harder to study racial disparities: To understand which neighborhoods and communities face raging outbreaks and why, researchers need demographic information both on who gets tested and who tests positive, including their race and ethnicity. But even as the U.S. testing infrastructure improves, testing remains sparse in many low-income and minority neighborhoods, and race and ethnicity information is missing for about half of reported COVID-19 cases nationwide.

In communities of color, knocking on doors to combat the virus: Around the country, communities of color continue to be among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. So, in many of these communities, local leaders are stepping in to try to help solve a problem they say is years in the making.

Barring international students could cost colleges billions: From the Bipartisan Policy Center: “The impacts of a new Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy requiring international students on F-1 visas to leave the country if their university transitions to online-only learning in the fall could be wide-ranging and significant. Not only will the policy present significant hardships to the foreign students, for example as a result of travel restrictions that may prevent them from returning to their home countries, but it is likely to have an adverse impact on the economy at a time when higher education finances have already been thrown into disarray. Based on BPC estimates, international graduate and undergraduate students pay roughly $20 billion per year in tuition and fees, providing a crucial source of revenue for many institutions.” 

The pandemic that proved cash payments work: An extra $600 a week buys freedom from fear.

In D.C. wards hit hardest by COVID-19, sending kids to school is a risk parents won’t take: Despite mounting national pressure to fully reopen schools, many D.C. parents, especially in neighborhoods hit hardest by the virus, remain fearful of the virus and don’t want their kids in school at all.

Utility shut-offs could present fresh crisis for low-income, Black families as infections spike: As coronavirus cases surge across the U.S. and states throttle back on economic re-openings, experts and advocacy groups are warning that low-income families could face utility shutoffs as moratoriums on disconnections lift — with Black families especially at risk. In KansasColoradoMississippi and Iowa, state-mandated emergency bans on disconnections have been lifted. And some states — including hotspots Georgia, Alabama and Florida — never imposed governor-mandated moratoria on shutoffs, leaving public utility commissions, municipalities, small companies and rural cooperatives to decide whether to suspend or enforce disconnection policies.

32% of U.S. households missed their July housing payment: As the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues, almost one-third of U.S. households, 32%, have not made their full housing payments for July yet, according to a survey by Apartment List, an online rental platform. About 19% of Americans made no housing payment at all during the first week of the month, and 13% paid only a portion of their rent or mortgage.

Coronavirus, refundable tax credits and the poverty line: Sara S. Greene and Lawrence A. Zelenak of Duke University School of Law suggest using the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Relief Tax Act of 2019 to speed the economic recovery from the pandemic.

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