By Jenna Clark, Communications Intern
This week, Congress is in recess. Most Representatives and Senators will return home to districts in turmoil. After many states reopened, Covid-19 rates skyrocketed in much of the south, west, and Midwest. On Wednesday, the United States reported 67,300 new cases. On the same day, we accomplished a remarkable feat: 3.5 million confirmed cases.
Despite the shattered records, in cases, in single day death statistics, and the growing number of hospitals facing- again, shortages in personal medical equipment and beds, Americans are today, somehow, still locked in a debate about masks. Perhaps it’s because our President until very recently refused to wear a mask in public, and because his administration is openly distancing itself from the CDC. Increasing research supports the airborne spread of Covid-19 particles. It shouldn’t need to be said, but I’ll say it: wear a mask.
Many people in this country desperately need assistance. In tandem with an unprecedented health emergency: 138,000 deaths and rising, we face a once in a century economic disaster. As of this week, between 32 and 33 million people in the country are either receiving unemployment benefits or have applied to do so. While the national unemployment rate decreased from April to June, it’s hard to conceive that this upturn will continue as many states face massive waves of Covid-19. After re-opening, some states are re-enforcing shut down measures.
President Trump and other leaders argued that we must open up the country to stave off economic disaster. Thousands of lives have been and will continue to be lost due to their ignorance, a tragedy unlike this country has seen. Their focus on re-opening against all scientific recommendations may also prove to be economically short sighted. By ignoring science and scientists, the Trump Administration is actually creating the economic disaster that they feared. Now we may face a much larger and much more long–term economic problem. As our country continues to be crippled by the virus, those short-term unemployed may become so permanently. It is our government’s responsibility to help.
In March, Congress passed the CARES Act: a $2 trillion relief package. However, much of the funding allocated for local governments hasn’t reached them. Where local governments did receive aid, funds are running out, but the need isn’t. Increased unemployment benefits are set to end in most states on July 25, just over a week away. While Democrats passed a $3 trillion relief package through the House in June, it never reached the debate floor in the Senate. Senate Republicans are working on their own bill, which they expect to release “as early as next week.” However, the $1 trillion maximum that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell identified is below acceptable for House Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Senators must pass another Covid-19 relief act, and soon. In todays’ era of politics, bipartisanship isn’t trendy. Unfortunately, our government no longer has the privilege to infight. They must work together and create an agreement that both Democrats and Republicans can get behind. Fighting this virus and its economic toll shouldn’t be a partisan issue.
During this recess, constituencies across the country have an opportunity to hold their Senators accountable. Remember, our governmental officials are elected by us, for us. Our needs and our wills are their responsibility. They have power because we give it to them: we can just as easily take it away.
So this week, call your representatives. Send emails. Hold them accountable for our well-being. Let them know that they have to take action, they have to pass a new Covid-19 relief act.
For more information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fj6pizO84js&t=53s