The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has some criticism for a new Senate bill in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The influential group of elected African American officials addressed their concerns that the new Emergency Interim Aid Bill is still overlooking the disproportionate effect the coronavirus is having on Black people’s health. “Much more needs to be done,” the CBC said in a statement. “Although the inclusion of $25 billion for testing is a positive step forward, the CBC believes the bill should have required the Department of Health and Human Services develop a national strategy for testing Americans with a particular focus on concentrated efforts in communities where the death rate is out of proportion to the population. For example, African Americans are 30% and 61% of the population of Chicago and New Orleans, respectively, but 70% of those who died from COVID-19.”
The CBC continued: “Resources need to be provided directly to community and faith-based organizations to conduct outreach and public health education. In addition to targeted testing and outreach, there needs to be accurate data, including not just the death rate, but a complete picture of how the virus is affecting Americans. The Congressional Black Caucus will not just accept that nothing can be immediately done to address the extremely disproportionate rate of African Americans who are dying from COVID-19.”
Over the past few weeks, a growing number of states has been releasing data about how the coronavirus is disproportionately killing Black people. States like Michigan developed a task force to specifically address how Black people are impacted by the coronavirus, however, things are moving slow on a national level. Instead, Trump seems to be more concerned with emboldening anti-lockdown protestors who want businesses and institutions to open back up in their states. Although the coronavirus is surely devastating the economy, many health experts have advised against ending stay-at-home orders and reopening businesses too soon out of fear of a more devastating outbreak of the coronavirus. Even workers such as Amazon employees are saying the environment is not safe for them and they’ve been essential workers since the outbreak began.
The protestors demanding states reopen have said little about how the coronavirus is affecting Black communities at a disproportionate rate. Instead, many have been chanting rhetoric about personal freedom with MAGA paraphernalia waving in the background.
According to NBC News, the $500 billion interim coronavirus bill was passed on Tuesday and although the CBC had some criticism for the measure, they also had some praise.
“The Congressional Black Caucus supports the additional resources for small businesses included in the latest federal response to COVID-19 and congratulates Speaker Pelosi and Democratic leadership for ensuring the inclusion of $75 billion in emergency funding for hospitals and $25 billion to increase testing and contact tracing,” the CBC’s statement read. “We also support the inclusion of $60 billion for the SBA Paycheck Protection Program to assist small lenders and community-based financial institutions. These needed resources will serve the needs of minority-owned businesses and underserved small businesses and nonprofits.”
They added, “Moreover, the $30 billion for Minority Depository Institutions, Community Development Financial Institutions, community lenders, and small community banks and credit unions is welcomed relief. Additionally, this legislation provides $50 billion for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, and $10 billion for the SBA’s Emergency Economic Injury Grant Program.”
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the interim bill on Thursday, meaning it could reach Trump’s desk for a signature by the end of the week.
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