Little Federal Action Against Anti-Asian Hate — Acts of anti-Asian racism relating to COVID-19 have surged as of two months ago, reports the Center for Public Integrity. Across the U.S., Asians have been harassed and attacked under the false assumption that they are to blame for the coronavirus. A man recently stabbed two Asian American children and their father in a Texas Sam’s Club—the FBI named this a hate crime. The FBI has said Asian Americans could potentially experience an increase in these types of crimes. But the Trump administration has done little to prevent racist backlash, despite precedents for action plans: The Justice Department stepped in with proactive solutions to combat racism in response to the 2001 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the CDC similarly acted during the 2003 SARS outbreak.
COVID-19 Speculation Goes From Margin to Center — Donald Trump demonstrated the importance of anti-China rhetoric to his COVID-19 political strategy by attacking the official U.S. state broadcasting outlet, Voice of America, as an organ of Chinese government propaganda. VOA isn’t aggressive enough in pushing Trump’s narratives, such as that China unleashed the coronavirus upon the world as germ warfare, and that public health advisory regarding the crisis is a liberal ploy to cripple the economy. Such lies and speculation, though absurd, worm their way from the fringe into mainstream media—and then into partisan discourse, as FAIR demonstrates. Foreign policy, proliferating anti-Asian bigotry, and public health suffer from unvetted media speculation.
Trump Defies His Own Guidance, Telling States to ‘LIBERATE!’ — Donald Trump sent a trio of tweets on Friday encouraging unrest in states that have held or are planning to hold mass protests against stay-in-place measures. To Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia, he wrote “LIBERATE!” adding to the latter an incitement to protest legislation introducing weapon safety legislation. These calls directly contradict his own three-phase plan announced on Thursday, which advises a 14-day downward trajectory of cases before ending social distancing. These wholly partisan tweets are targeting Democratic governors—as further evidenced by the otherwise irrelevant mention of the Second Amendment, observes Truthout.
Trump’s Lies Will Kill His Rural Supporters — Even before his explicit calls to defy public health measures, Donald Trump’s messaging has been primed to get masses of his supporters infected. Pro-Trump protests have popped up in Idaho, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and other rural states that have not yet felt the full brunt of the pandemic. Truthout reports thousands of right-wing protesters—several carrying firearms—swarmed Michigan’s capital building on Wednesday, chanting to “lock up” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her stay-at-home order. Trump’s allies spread a misinformation-laden video slandering Dr. Anthony Fauci and his advisements. Evangelical Trump supporters are flooding their churches. COVID-19 will start burning through rural America, which has insufficient medical infrastructure to confront it.
City Leaders Implore Trump to Pay His Bills — Fourteen municipal governments want President Trump’s campaign committee to pay a combined $1.82 million in public safety-related debt from his “Make America Great Again” campaign, reports the Center for Public Integrity. The pandemic has exacerbated the loss that cities have had to cover, with cuts to government programs and staff disproportionately affecting low-income residents, people of color, the homeless, and the disabled. Trump’s campaign denies having to pay for the required police protection. States have begun attempting to force hands—both those of Trump and presidential campaigns generally—with late fees and legislation barring rallies for indebted campaigns. Trump’s campaign still hasn’t paid any of the $1.82 million, though its committee, combined with Republican National Committee entities, has over $240 million in reserve.
Playing Catch-Up With the Next Pandemic — Congress is already thinking about how to prevent the next pandemic. Having identified the supposed source of the COVID-19 outbreak, Cory Booker is teaming up with Lindsey Graham to call for a global ban on “wet markets”—any place that sells perishable goods like meat and produce, including local farmers markets. These are integral facets of life across the globe and only some represent risk of zoonotic diseases like COVID-19. Congress could instead turn to the current pandemic. Widespread testing remains unavailable and Donald Trump just cancelled U.S. contributions to the WHO. And if Congress truly wanted to address the root cause of pandemics, the top priority would be to combat deforestation and global warming to reduce animal disease transmission during climate-spurred migration, says Fair Observer.
Sexual Assault Advocates Grapple With Biden Allegations — This week, A handful of news outlets published investigations into claims by Tara Reade that former Vice President Joe Biden sexually assaulted her when she was a staff assistant to the then-senator more than 25 years ago. As some sources confirmed that Reade shared her experience “over the years of a traumatic sexual incident” with them, and others, including former supervisors and Biden staffers, denied recollection, reports have not determined whether Reade’s allegations were true.
While Reade’s story hasn’t significantly altered Biden’s public image, it has been jarring for survivor activists who have considered Biden a political ally on sexual violence policy. Mother Jones interviewed activists expressing immense frustration with media portrayal and political response. One said this evidences that “survivors will always be political pawns.”
COVID-19 and Climate Change Can Ravage Minority Communities — Low-income communities and communities of color in cities across the U.S. are disproportionately facing higher rates of COVID-19-related infection and death, reports InsideClimate News. In Michigan, black people make up 41% of coronavirus deaths, though they comprise only 14% of the state population. This doesn’t surprise public health experts; a 2018 federal report concluded that low-income communities already have higher rates of myriad health conditions, are exposed to more environmental hazards, and take longer to recover form natural disasters. Air pollution is one major risk factor. But other environmental factors, like flooding, can force people into shelters, which are hotspots for the virus to spread. The Trump administration’s move to suspend enforcement of environmental laws could prove deadly as vulnerable communities navigate the pandemic.
Rising Unemployment Shows Need for Sustainable Supply Chain — Staggering job and income losses have put unprecedented strain on U.S. food pantries, even as billions of dollars in produce goes to waste due to supply chain disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic. Common Dreams reports these conditions are renewing calls for reforms to make the nation’s food systems more localized and sustainable. Lines complying with social distance measures at drive-thru locations across the country extend over six miles. Farmers, with drastically reduced markets to sell to and no other distribution systems in place, are forced to dump milk, eggs, and produce, despite the immense need among food banks.
1. Coronavirus testing delayed by contamination at US government lab, report says (The Independent)