Americans Deserve a Better COVID Response as Congress Returns to Washington and the Trump Administration Continues to Play Politics
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The Clock Is Ticking And Americans Want Better COVID Response
With frontline workers, health care workers, and others working hard to stop the spread of the pandemic facing record COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates, the Trump administration has failed to provide even the most basic level of protections and aid. In too many instances, the administration has not met the moment — wasting precious time to prepare in the early months of the crisis and consistently making public health its last priority. And now, with just weeks remaining for the Trump administration and days before government funding runs dry, the clock is ticking louder as the administration barrels toward inflicting more calamitous mistakes on a struggling public and economy.
In welcoming Congress back to the negotiating table, here are ten ways the administration and Republican-controlled Senate can still change their tune and work for the American people in these final weeks of 2020.
1. Provide new small business aid:
More than 400,000 mom-and-pop businesses have closed their doors since March due to the Trump administration’s utter failure to equip them with the support they needed to continue operating. The flawed Paycheck Protection Program allowed wealthy publicly traded corporations and fraudsters alike to run away with crucial relief funds while hundreds of small businesses — especially those in communities of color — were shut out entirely. And since the program expired in early August, the administration has failed to champion any new small business aid program to assist those still desperately treading water. The administration should make the passage of a new aid package its number one priority.
2. Stop the mass evictions on the horizon:
Months after a single $1,200 check was mailed out to Americans across the nation, the Trump administration has yet to offer additional relief to support families working hard to make ends meet. With the CDC’s eviction moratorium slated to run out in the new year, reports show that almost 18 million Americans are currently behind on mortgage and rent payments, and 5.8 million claim they are “somewhat to very likely to face eviction or foreclosure in the next two months,” according to a November census survey. The administration should ensure that the CDC extends its eviction moratorium to cover the duration of the crisis.
3. Put in place a robust national testing regimen:
More than eight months after President Trump claimed that “anyone who wants a test, can get a test,” his promise still rings hollow. The worsening surge of COVID-19 cases ravaging the country has left communities desperate for testing resources amid widespread shortages, with low-income communities and communities of color particularly facing difficulties accessing the resources they need — a devastating fact that the administration failed to address from the start. And even as new hotspots popped up in the summer, the administration made plans to cut communities’ funding for testing sites. The administration should equip every community with the appropriate number of testing resources so that anyone who wants a test really can obtain one — in a timely, safe, and affordable, and manner.
4. Provide an orderly transition of power:
While President-elect Biden’s margin of victory in the November election surpassed six million votes, President Trump has continued to baselessly battle against a peaceful transition of power and scramble to secure his legacy of harm. More than two weeks after the election results were clear, Trump’s GSA was still refusing to provide President-elect Biden and his team with important resources, undermining the U.S.’s health and security. And rather than address the ongoing public health and economic crises his administration helped bring about, Trump has focused on spreading election disinformation, uplifting conspiracy theories, and securing last-minute rules and policies that will harm workers, immigrants, and the environment. The administration should accept the results of the presidential election and stop all efforts to sow disinformation and undermine the democratic process.
5. Address widespread food insecurity:
Due to COVID-19 and the Trump administration’s inaction, thousands of families across the country are struggling to put food on their dinner tables. With 40 percent of Americans facing food insecurity for the first time, Trump’s failure to pass an additional relief bill is yet another example of his inept response to this crisis. Last week’s analysis from the Brookings Institution found that nearly 10 percent of parents of young children “report that their kids do not have sufficient food and they lack the resources to purchase more” and reporting from CBS News revealed “one in six women of color are facing food insecurity because of the pandemic.” The administration should ensure that a new relief package includes aid that will go directly into Americans’ pockets to help families pay for essentials like housing, food, and medicine.
6. Provide help to vulnerable workers:
Since the start of the pandemic, essential workers have been on the frontlines keeping patients safe, pantries stocked, and the economy running. All the while, President Trump has failed to act to ensure their safety. The administration refused to mandate hazard pay on the federal level and failed to penalize companies that did not equip their workers with proper personal protective equipment (PPE) or require proper social distancing measures — leaving workers’ lives and safety to the whims of their employers as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspection rate fell dramatically. And in March and April, delayed moves by the administration to procure and distribute PPE led to health care workers wearing trash bags and reusing N95 masks to treat their patients. The administration should stop protecting the interests of corporations over workers’ lives and ensure a new aid bill is not stalled in Congress based on Trump’s Senate allies’ desire to give big businesses immunity if their workers get sick.
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