Freedman Consulting, LLC | Briefing for November 15-19, 2021 on COVID-19 and Low-Income Communities
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Briefing for November 15-19, 2021 on COVID-19 and Low-Income Communities

Briefing for November 15-19, 2021 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 a news service summarizing relevant stories, which you can read below. As of September 13th, the team has switched this effort from a daily format to publishing every Monday.

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Briefing for November 15, 2021

Lasting changes ahead for ‘Generation COVID’: Axios examines some of the lasting impacts experts believe Gen Z — roughly defined as those born between 1997 and 2012 — will suffer from their pandemic experience. 

  • On the higher end of the age spectrum, many of these young people were the last hired and the first fired during the pandemic, Jason Dorsey, president of the Center for Generational Kinetics, a research and strategy firm, tells Axios. Gen Z also has reported greater symptoms of burnout to employers and expressed concerns about falling behind or missing out because the pandemic is impacting such as a formative period of their lives, Jessica Stollings-Holder, president of ReGenerations, which studies generational trends, told the Society for Human Resource Management
  • For younger ages, more than 175,000 children in the U.S. have lost a parent or grandparent due to COVID-19. Many children also have been simultaneously exposed to news of COVID case counts and death counts either by overhearing news coverage or adult conversations about COVID in a way that hasn’t been seen since the Vietnam War, Dorsey said.  

With aid money, schools put bigger focus on mental health: The Associated Press reports: “In Kansas City, Kansas, educators are opening an after-school mental health clinic staffed with school counselors and social workers. Schools in Paterson, New Jersey, have set up social emotional learning teams to identify students dealing with crises. Chicago is staffing up ‘care teams’ with the mission of helping struggling students on its 500-plus campuses. With a windfall of federal coronavirus relief money at hand, schools across the U.S. are using portions to quickly expand their capacity to address students’ struggles with mental health. While school districts have broad latitude on how to spend the aid money, the urgency of the problem has been driven home by absenteeism, behavioral issues, and quieter signs of distress as many students have returned to school buildings this fall for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit. For some school systems, the money has boosted long-standing work to help students cope with trauma. Others have launched new efforts to screen, counsel, and treat students. All told, the investments put public schools more than ever at the center of efforts to attend to students’ overall well-being. ‘In the last recession, with the last big chunk of recovery money, this conversation wasn’t happening,’ said Amanda Fitzgerald, the assistant director of the American School Counselor Association. ‘Now, the tone across the country is very focused on the well-being of students.’ Last month, three major pediatric groups said the state of children’s mental health should be considered a national emergency. The U.S. Education Department has pointed to the distribution of the relief money as an opportunity to rethink how schools provide mental health support. Mental well-being, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has said, needs to be the foundation for the recovery from the pandemic.” 

Dream of buying a home gets harder for single mothers: From the New York Times: “Even without the benefit of a second earner, single mothers — those who have never married — have made up a growing share of home buyers over the past three decades. Although they still lag single fathers and married couples, a quarter of single mothers were homeowners in 2019 — roughly double the rate in 1990, according to a recent report from the Urban Institute. But the pandemic threatens to dampen that progress, experts said. Women have borne the brunt of the job losses over the last year and a half, while also shouldering most of the child-care responsibilities — an acute challenge for single mothers, especially those with young children. At the same time, the housing market has grown highly competitive: Prices of single-family homes rose nearly 20% in August, the latest data available, from a year earlier, according to S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index. ‘COVID was definitely harder on some households, especially single women with children,’ said Jun Zhu, a co-author of the Urban Institute report and a clinical assistant professor with the finance department at Indiana University. ‘It is possible the pandemic can undo that progress.’” 

Pregnant women of color are lagging on vaccination rates: CBS News looks at some of the reasons that may be suppressing COVID vaccination rates among pregnant women of color: “Research shows the vaccines are safe and effective before and during pregnancy, and studies have not found any increase in miscarriage or fertility issues after vaccination. Health officials stress the importance of getting the shots because unvaccinated pregnant women face a heightened risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19. But it’s been difficult for health officials to build confidence in the vaccines among pregnant people, particularly among people of color. To date, only 35.3% of Americans prior to or during pregnancy have been fully vaccinated, half the total for the entire adult population nationwide, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The pace of vaccination has alarmed health officials, prompting the CDC to issue a health alert in September calling for ‘urgent action’ to address it. In late October, Dana Meaney-Delman, the agency’s lead on maternal immunization, said on a webinar, ‘we still have a ways to go’ and that the rate of vaccination is ‘not where we want it yet.’ The vaccination rate lags even more among women of color. Less than a third of Hispanics/Latinos and only one in five Black Americans have been fully vaccinated prior to or during pregnancy. Doctors blame the gap, in part, on deeply rooted distrust stemming from worse medical treatment, poorer outcomes, and systemic racism that has largely gone unaddressed. Dr. Manisha Gandhi, chief of the Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital Pavilion for Women, said that while health officials have tried to address racial disparities in care, historical distrust has been hard to overcome. ‘I think again it probably has to do with mistrust and issues of racism, issues of bias, that are leading women to not pursue this vaccination and distrust of how it may affect the pregnancy,’ she said.” 

Postal banking could help close racial wealth gap: More than 60 million Americans are either “unbanked” or “underbanked” and local bank branches are closing across the country, particularly in communities of color. The U.S Postal Service has begun a postal banking pilot program that allows customers to cash payroll and business checks up to $500 in four locations: Washington, D.C., Baltimore, the Bronx borough of New York City and Falls Church, Va. Nicole Ndumele, senior vice president for Rights and Justice at the Center for American Progress, wrote recently about the potential benefits of postal banking and she discussed the issue recently with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

Cities pilot ‘universal basic mobility’ programs: Bloomberg CityLab reports on a number of pilots across the country testing the concept of “universal basic mobility.” “In Oakland, up to 500 residents will receive prepaid $300 debit cards for transit and shared mobility services later this month. Pittsburgh plans to launch a year-long study with a 50-person cohort next spring. Los Angeles is preparing a similar grant-funded program focused in south L.A. The goal of the experiments is to understand how having a minimum guaranteed level of transportation could change outcomes for people who have previously gone without it. Across the U.S., poorer households spend far more on transportation as a percentage of their incomes than more affluent ones. Angela Sanguinetti, a research environmental psychologist at the University of California, Davis, is overseeing survey-based studies of the pilots in California. She’s interested in which modes participants chose for getting to different destinations, and how the programs affect their economic standing, quality of life and health. ‘We know that access to mobility has an impact on people’s overall sense of security,’ she said. ‘If you don’t have reliable access to places you need to go, that can cause a lot of anxiety.’”  

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