We welcome expressions, support, and collaboration from like-minded organizations

 

 

HEALTH POLICIES, ANALYSIS, AND RESOURCES

The Health Policy Domain tracks and reports on policies that deal with women’s health, the Affordable Care Act, Head Start, child care and child support services, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and federal food and drug policy. This domain tracks policies emanating from the White House, the department of Health and Human Services, the US Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Latest Health & Gender Posts

 

Coronavirus US and Global Update

Brief #74—Health and Gender
By Taylor J Smith
After the Memorial Day Holiday, where all fifty states had reopened in some capacity, the concern of a summer second wave looms. These fears are compounded by the National Institutes of Health announcement that warmer weather is unlikely to stop the spread of the virus, after previous hopes that the summer could provide some reprieve before flu season and a likely second wave.

read more

April 27th UPDATE: Coronavirus

Brief #73—Health
By Taylor J Smith
The global count of COVID-19 cases has topped 2 million with just over a million being in the Unites States, where US deaths have surged to over 55,000. The number of confirmed cases in the United States appears to be doubling every three weeks.

read more

UPDATE : Coronavirus

Brief #71—Health
By Taylor J Smith
This fourteen-day period has been dubbed the most critical point of this pandemic, where if the Americans efficiently limit the spread of the coronavirus, an anticipated crash of the healthcare system can be avoided. The commonly heard “flattening of the curve” refers to the wave of cases, where the high wave is a surge in cases.

read more
Corona Virus Update:The US Death Toll Reaches 150,000

Corona Virus Update:The US Death Toll Reaches 150,000

COVID-19’s Status in the US

As the coronavirus continues spread, cases are rapidly increasing in in at least 29 states. New hotspots are Florida, California, Arizona, and Texas. High hospitalizations, especially in the four mentioned states, have led to a shortage of hospital beds. As a result, cities and states are shattering previously set records: Los Angeles reported the highest number of hospitalizations in a day (2,216), Georgia and North Carolina highest single-day increase of cases (4,688 and 2,522), Arizona had its highest deaths in a day (147) and Florida has broken its single-day case increase repeatedly over the past few weeks.

Contentiously, President Donald Trump has ordered all US hospitals to report COVID-19 data directly to the Department of Health and Human Services, bypassing the Center for Disease Control. This decision comes on the heels of statements by the President saying less testing needs to be done; such a move is likely a result of the American people’s dissatisfaction with his management of the pandemic and him wanting to keep the worsening condition out of the public eye.

Vaccines are a major hope as mask wearing is uncommon in parts of the country. The final phase of Moderna’s vaccine trial is currently underway, where there will be around 30,000 participants based out of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Oxford University’s vaccine has had promising outcomes partnered with caution, as phased trials have commenced. One issue facing all manufacturers is the commonality of adverse effects.

There have been over 16.8 million cases and over 660,000 deaths worldwide. Medical experts warn that US deaths will skyrocket into the hundreds of thousands if the nation does not get the virus under control.

 

COVID-19’s Status Internationally

The virus has continued to rage in Latin America. Colombia recently surpassed 200,000 cases, as Mexico reported at least 300 deaths in a day, their highest. Brazilian President, and frequent opposer of COVID-19 preventative measures, Jair Bolsonaro, tested positive for the disease as the country surpassed 2 million cases and 80,000 deaths.

After a survey, it was found that less than a quarter of citizens in Japan are in favor of hosting the previously postponed 2021 Olympic Games planned in Tokyo. This is after Japan saw the highest daily spike of 981 new cases. An estimated 23% of residents, or 4 million people, have had the coronavirus, according to recent data. Hong Kong has experienced eight straight days of over 100 new cases per day, causing great concern.

After five days of negotiations, European Union leaders have reached an agreement on a $858 billion coronavirus stimulus package. The money is intended to fund the bloc’s recovery from the pandemic, with a focus on countries most severely hit. Since the June 21st quarantine lift, Spain has seen a significant increase in COVID-19 cases, with hotspots being in the region of Catalonia and Aragon.

New Zealand has reported their first two cases of coronavirus, after lifting restrictions and declaring the country was “virus-free” on June 8th. These cases are currently being held off the coast and are being treated in isolation.

South Africa has the fifth highest number of cases across the globe, with an aggressive case acceleration of about 30% in the last week. Iraq hit a new daily record with just under 3,000 new COVID cases. India is experiencing a surge in cases, as the total number of cases surpasses 1.5 million, with more than half a million new cases recorded in just twelve days.

United States passport holders will find that their passports are essentially useless as countries close their borders. The US has seen a spike in nearly every state and as a result, other nations are weary of allowing Americans to visit.

Analysis:

While  multiple vaccine trials are underway and countries are funneling money for vaccine efforts, there is little hope for a quick vaccine. The German Health Ministry estimated the earliest a vaccine could be available is mid-2021. The concern regarding an accelerated vaccine, that would be available sooner, is mainly over the side effects and its effectiveness. Recent trial participants have experienced prolonged discomfort, citing headaches, sore arms, fatigue, a fever and chills; all of which are common symptoms of COVID-19. It can be expected that multiple trials, with fewer side effects, will be needed to reassure people, not only in America, to take a newly developed vaccine.

On July 14th, Trump ordered all hospitals to report COVID-19 data to the Department of Health and Human Services and not to the CDC. Such a move eliminates roughly any transparency regarding this highly communicable virus. It is imperative to have reliable and transparent data when dealing with a global pandemic. The move to circumvent the proper channels from a trustworthy and science-driven organization like the CDC to the vocally anti-science Administration will undoubtedly harm the American people. Additionally, continuing to be untrustworthy in its management of Covid-19 will likely hurt the Administration and other governments when it comes time for mass vaccinations. Americans will be understandably hesitant in accepting a, presumably mandated, vaccine from the federal government after previously shrouding critical COVID-19 data.

States that have recently reopened after state-issued stay-at-home orders, are reevaluating options in the wake of an onslaught of new cases. Such backtracking in legislation is causing conflict in regions that were already opposed to the initial lockdown. Opponents of reclosure cite the economy’s fragile state as their biggest concern. Nevertheless, states must consider public health when proposing reopening. Experts predict a second wave similar to what the nation experienced in late spring, to come in the winter, during flu season. Experts, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, have made it very clear that three things are needed in order to slow the spread and ultimately save lives. Those three things being: washing hands or sanitizing, masks or face coverings, and social distancing. Rejection of these solutions by state leaders is what has caused the virus to run rampant, as seen by comparing the US to nations where such solutions were prioritized.

Most recently, Trump contradicted experts and blatantly lied during his most recent press conference. He revived his push for hydroxychloroquine use, supported a quack doctor, and incorrectly claimed that most of America is “COVID free”. This virus is currently running through the US with unabated vigor with an average of 64,000+ cases per day in the past seven days. Effective and trustworthy leadership is necessary to combat this disease and to prevent further harm on the American people.

 

Keywords:

Healthcare, health, COVID-19, virus, coronavirus, epidemic, pandemic, infection, vaccine.

Engagement Resources:

For concerns about COVID-19, please seek assistance with the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, or local health officials.

 

Subscribe HERE to stay up to date with COVID-19

 

Number of COVID-19 cases and deaths as of July 29, 2020 – Consult the CDC or Johns Hopkins for an update in numbers.

 

Nation Confirmed Cases Deaths
Globally 16,940,174 664,748
United States 4,414,834 150,447
Brazil 2,552,265 90,134
India 1,531,669 34,193
Russia 827,509 13,650
South Africa 471,123 7,497
Mexico 402,697 44,876
Peru 395,005 18,612
Chile 351,575 9,278
United Kingdom 303,058 46,046
Iran 298,909 16,343

 

Supreme Court Issues Major Ruling in Abortion Rights

Supreme Court Issues Major Ruling in Abortion Rights

The Policy

The Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that would have closed all but a single abortion clinic in the state. The 5-4 decision of June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo annulled an anti-abortion law limiting admitting privileges. Under this law, doctors who performed abortions were no longer permitted to have admitting privileges for nearby hospitals. At minimum, two of the three abortion clinics in the state would be forced to close, requiring women to drive farther and wait longer for the single doctor that would be left to meet the demand of 10,000 abortions women in Louisiana seek each year.

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the nearly identical 2016 case out of Texas set a precedent for the outcome of June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo. This case also centered on doctors performing abortions not being allowed admitting practices at surrounding hospitals. While the prior rule was made with a ruling of 5-3, in the months after the death of Justice Antonio Scalia, the same conditions were found in and ultimately applied to June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo, resulting in the same outcome despite the current make up of the court. After this decision, Louisiana’s three remaining abortion clinics are permitted to stay open.

Analysis:

While some find this to be a shock, given the conservative-leaning majority of the court, others call this case “Supreme Court 101” saying that it was nearly a no-brainer, citing the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling where states cannot place an undue burden on a woman’s right to have an abortion. Consequently, a law like this in Louisiana, that places a significant undue burden on a woman’s ability to have an abortion, would be easily struck down.

From fetal heartbeat bills, to the ectopic pregnancy bill, cases directly targeting a women’s right to abortion access have been making headlines in recent months. With the appointment of conservative justices by Trump, many anti-abortionists see this as an opportunity to take a case and challenge Roe v. Wade. While this law does not upend Roe v. Wade, it is part of a broader strategy of implementing restrictive state laws, that when put together, threaten overall access and the validity of the monumental 1973 case.

The deciding member of the Court was Chief Justice Roberts, who joined the liberal wing and upended the Louisiana law. Conservatives were quick to condemn both the ruling and Chief Justice Roberts, notably, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany were against the ruling.

Striking down this law increases access to abortions in the state of Louisiana, specifically for two marginalized demographics, those who have a lower income and women of color. About 8,000 abortions were performed in Louisiana in 2018, according to state statistics and more than two-thirds of abortion patients there are women of color. Limiting access will do exactly what the Court vowed to prevent, placing undue burden on women’s access to abortion care.

Engagement Resources:

The Supreme Court and Trump Administration Offer Conflicting Opinions on Transgender Rights in a Matter of Days

The Supreme Court and Trump Administration Offer Conflicting Opinions on Transgender Rights in a Matter of Days

The Policy

On the four-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting, where 49 LGBTQ+ (majority latinx) individuals were shot and killed in a Florida night club, the Trump Administration finalized a rule rescinding nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people in healthcare. Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), enacted in 2010, “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disabilities in certain health programs or activities”. In 2016, under President Obama, the rule redefined discrimination “on the basis of sex” to include gender identity and termination of pregnancy, with gender identity being defined as “one’s internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, or neither, or a combination of male and female”.

The reversal of this rule, follows prior regulations of the Trump Administration that defines “sex discrimination” as only applying when someone faces discrimination for being male or female, and does not protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. While the previous 2016 rule did not include sexual orientation in the definition of sex, gender identity was, and such a reversal severely impacts the protections of those who do not identify as what some would define as “traditionally” or biologically male or female. With such changes, the health care system is expected to save over $2.9 million. The rule is set to go in effect by mid-August.

This Rule change comes days prior to the monumental Supreme Court ruling protecting LGBTQ+ rights in the workplace. In a 6-3 decision that stated, “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law”. The Supreme Court decided on the cases of a skydiving instructor who was fired in 2010 after he told a client he was gay, a funeral home director who was fired after she came out as transgender in 2013, and a child-aid worker who was fired, also in 2013, after he joined a gay softball league.

Analysis:

The key reason driving , given by the Trump administration, the need for Section 1557’s amendment is cost efficiency. Cutting costs is a frequently used defense in instances where civil rights are impacted, or where minorities are severely affected. The Rule’s finalization is expected to save roughly $2.9 billion over the next five years. While this may benefit the pockets of Americans, it will most certainly negatively impact LGBTQ+ individuals, specifically, trans individuals.

Supporters of the change point to benefits of cost effectiveness and the need for correcting the “blatant executive overreach by President Obama”. Additionally, supporters claim the change will also reduce confusion regarding the legal meaning of “sex discrimination”. Critics argue the rule will further harm one of the most vulnerable populations, transgender people. The rule could also mean that those seeking an abortion could be denied care if performing the procedure violates the provider’s moral or religious beliefs. This rule opens the door for discrimination and protections for those who discriminate under religious freedom. In addition to the risk of discrimination, the signing of this rule produces a chilling effect, as seen in the Public Charge proposal, it is likely that transgender or non-binary people will be less willing to go to the doctor’s office out of fear and suffer health complications as a result. This comes during a pandemic where marginalized communities are severely impacted and to now add this layer of discrimination will inevitably result in preventable deaths. LGBTQ rights groups quickly and vocally condemned the rule change, calling the move “heartless”, “encouraging discrimination”, and “deadly consequences”. The Administration has made it clear with this rule, both in its contents and its signing date, that the LGBTQ+ community is a target and will lose rights.

However, the Supreme Court ruling provides workplace protections that help millions. Conservatives have strong opposition to  this ruling and to the apparent abandoning of conservative-values by the conservative Justices that sided with liberal Justices; this ruling not only established LGBTQ+ rights in the workplace, it likely set the foundation for addition alprotections down the line.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the Court’s opinion based on a matter of logic when refuting the argument that the writers of the Civil Rights Act did not mention, nor intended on including sexual orientation of transgender status, when it protected against discrimination on the basis of sex. Gorsuch wrote “discrimination based on homosexuality or transgender status necessarily entails discrimination based on sex; the first can not happen without the second.” While there is much to celebrate, many point to the widespread practice of “at-will employment”, where most employers do not need a reason for firing someone, thus rendering the decision meaningless. Title VII covers employees in workplaces with 15 or more employees and religiously-affiliated employers. While there are some exemptions, including ministers or other individuals whose job involves teaching or leading the faith, largely, this ruling applies to all job positions.

How do these two rulings interact with each other?

In a matter of four days, two branches of government gave conflicting orders prompting confusion about LGBTQ+ rights in the United States.  Both the Affordable Care Act and Title IX ban discrimination “on the basis of sex.” Although this language is different from the statutory language in Bostock, the Supreme Court case, which forbids discrimination “because of … sex,” the Court has indicated that the words “on the basis of” and “because of” have the same meaning. The Bostock ruling may have focused solely on employment discrimination, but legal scholars say the language will likely force an expansion of civil rights in countless areas of daily life for LGBTQ+ members and beyond.

The Administration has attempted to, and succeeded in some areas, to narrow the definition of sex in order to erase the rights of the LGBTQ+ population, but this ruling will likely upend this pursuit, protecting rights already federally protected in housing, healthcare, education, and credit. Importantly, the logic described in Justice Gorsuch’s opinion will be key, and will likely be applied to similar provisions, protections, and policies.  With this precedent, there is an expectation that any future cases ruling in favor of sex rights will expand the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

While the Supreme Court ruling does not automatically invalidate the new healthcare rule, it makes it significantly more difficult to defend in court. Legal scholars, however, do not see the Bostock ruling impacting Trump’s Military Transgender Ban. The next challenge in sex discrimination is likely to be found in an anticipated policy to allow homeless shelters to consider biological sex rather than gender identity in placement decisions, even if that puts the LGBTQ+ individuals in harm’s way Another legal challenges will likely occur on the Administration’s argument that adoption services should be able to reject same-sex couples from adopting. The true strength of the Supreme Court ruling will be revealed in due time, likely highlighting more conflict with the Administration.

Engagement Resources:

  • American Civil Liberties Union A national organization working to defend civil liberties across the United States.
  • Human Rights Campaign : America’s largest civil rights organization, working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equality.
  • Lambda Legal A national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of the LGBT community as well as those living with HIV/AIDS through litigation, societal education, and public policy work.
  • National Center for Transgender Equality : The nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization winning life-saving change for transgender people

Reach out to your senators and representatives to take action!

Coronavirus US and Global Update

Coronavirus US and Global Update

COVID-19’s Status in the US

After the Memorial Day Holiday, where all fifty states had reopened in some capacity, the concern of a summer second wave looms. These fears are compounded by the National Institutes of Health announcement that warmer weather is unlikely to stop the spread of the virus, after previous hopes that the summer could provide some reprieve before flu season and a likely second wave. Fears of additional cases come on the heals of national outrage and protests demanding justice for a killed unarmed black man, George Floyd. Masses gathered in the thousands across every state in the US, it is hard for such gatherings and social distancing to coexist. Legislators are still contemplating another round of stimulus checks and business bailouts, with an agreement expected no earlier than July. The United States has already passed 1.8 million cases and over 100,000 deaths.

-Head to the Washington Post to see state by state restrictions-

COVID-19’s Status Internationally

South and Central America are experiencing an onslaught of cases. However many previously ravished nations appear to be controlling the virus, with the exceptions of the United States and United Kingdom.

Iran reported nearly 3,000 new cases on Monday, the highest daily rise in two months, prompting concern the nation will have another wave shortly. New Zealand is set to reduce restrictions after the nation passes eleven days with no reported cases.

After mass testing in Wuhan, China, officials report they have detected a mere 300 asymptomatic carriers and no new COVID cases. The first Rohingya refugee death has been reported after it was confirmed a 71 year-old refugee living in the densely populated Cox’s Bazar camp.

Analysis:

With businesses reopening and social distancing measures still in place, COVID-19 is expected to be a staple for the American people. Hope is found in the 133 current vaccines being developed across the globe. About 7 in 10 Americans say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine should one be developed and was both free and available for everyone, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. While President Trump has set a goal for millions of doses of the vaccine to be available by the end of 2020, scientist counter the ambitious claim as being unrealistic even with researchers around the globe scrambling for a safe and effective vaccine. States will likely see if the reopening of businesses will be for the best or result in an influx of new cases.

Engagement Resources:

 

Number of COVID-19 cases and deaths as of June 2, 2020 – Consult the CDC or Johns Hopkins for an update in numbers.

Nation Confirmed Cases Deaths
Globally 6,339,005 378,266
United States 1,828,736 106,046
Brazil 526,447 29,937
Russia 423,186 5,031
United Kingdom 279,391 39,452
Spain 239,932 27,127
Italy 233,515 33,530
India 207,183 5,829
France 188,450 28,943
Germany 183,879 8,563
Peru 170,039 4,634

 

April 27th UPDATE: Coronavirus

April 27th UPDATE: Coronavirus

COVID-19’s Status in the US

The global count of COVID-19 cases has topped 2 million with just over a million being in the Unites States, where US deaths have surged to over 55,000. The number of confirmed cases in the United States appears to be doubling every three weeks. Officials have accepted the fact that the US is now a global hotspot and have shifted efforts of containing the virus to now focusing on mitigating the virus’ damage and spread.

An additional 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits just last week as businesses stay closed. Economists estimate the national unemployment rate to be between 15 and 20 percent. With businesses closed and people out of work, protestors have taken to States’ capitals with military grade weapons and demands to reopen businesses on the heels of Trump’s statements also wanting America to open. This has created standoffs between hospital workers and protesters who have carried out demonstrations like “operation gridlock” in Denver, where traffic was halted and access to hospitals was restricted. A spike is expected due to recent protests where demonstrators did not wear protective gear, nor abide by social distancing rules. Critics in support of social distancing also point to the recent Wisconsin election where mail-in ballots were prohibited by the courts, thus mandating citizens to break social distancing or not vote. Currently, thirty-six voters and poll workers have tested positive for COVID-19 after the April 7th primary.

On the economic front, an additional $310 billion is being added to the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses and hospitals. This comes after the initial small business package of $349 billion passed early April, was siphoned dry by chain restaurants and larger businesses, after two weeks, before small businesses saw any of the money. Some businesses like Shake Shack and the Los Angeles Lakers, have returned the funds after finding out that small businesses were left out of the payout.

On April 7th, Trump threatened to withdraw funding to the World Health Organization. After repeatedly attacking the organization, calling it pro-Chinese {and therefore anti-American} and blaming the organization for understating the threat of the virus. In contrast to his threats, other international leaders are stepping up and making this pandemic a collaborative international issue.

COVID-19’s Status Internationally

Oxford University of the U.K. has made immense progress in developing a vaccine for COVID-19. After its creation, scientists in Montana gave six macaque monkeys the vaccine and then exposed them to the virus. Nearly a month later, and the macaques are all still healthy. Additionally, China has created a vaccine that resulted in promising outcomes with macaques, and those scientists have started a clinical trial with 144 participants.

In response to Trump’s statements of funding withdrawal from the WHO, the European Union announced it would release 15 billion Euros to help poorer countries fight the coronavirus. In response, the United Kingdom also pledged 200 million Pounds  to help the poorer countries via international organizations like the WHO, Red Cross and UN.

Analysis:

The withdrawing of funds threat by the Trump Administration would be both cruel and counterproductive. As seen in his reduction in funding for national emergency response systems, resulting in a lack of preparedness in America, defunding the WHO will only result in this pandemic lasting longer than it needs to, with more preventable deaths, and likely a stronger second wave of cases to hit the US. If the Trump Administration was serious about curbing the spread of the virus, we, like other nations, should be bolstering up public health systems and disease containment strategies. This threat to defund the World Health Organization is simply abhorrent and is a direct threat to the health and safety of the globe.

With many counties having stay at home orders ending in the coming days, the threat of an inundation of new COVID-19 cases is a very real possibility. Against the recommendations of scientists, Governors and state leaders are pushing for America to be reopened. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman wants to “reopen the casinos and let the free market decide who lives.” In viral interview with Anderson Cooper the Mayor repeatedly stated that she wanted Las Vegas up and running, as one of the biggest US tourism capitals. Georgia’s shelter in place will remain in effect until April 30th, while some businesses like barber shops, salons and restaurants for dining service already opened back up last Friday. Some are arguing that the benefits of opening and restarting the economy outweigh the human toll of the pandemic. Such thinking is allowing a minority to suffer, while letting a majority benefit. However, the majority will likely suffer greatly if this pandemic reaches every person in the US as it ravages prematurely opened communities. This is an unethical proposition to sacrifice a portion of the population so the rest can enjoy the amenities of pre COVID-19.

A list of open states and precautions for customers and staff can be found here.

Best practices to protect yourself and others from getting and spreading the coronavirus:

  • Wash your hand thoroughly and frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • If you cannot wash your hands, use an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
  • Cough into your elbow or a tissue, immediately throw the tissue away and wash your hands
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Keep a safe distance from others, 6 feet is recommended
  • Stay home if you can and avoid going out unless it is necessary
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces
  • Wear a face mask when out in public spaces, it is not recommended to wear latex gloves.

Engagement Resources:

Numbers as of April 27, 2020 – Consult the CDC or Johns Hopkins for an update in numbers.

 

Top Ten Nations with Cases

Nation Confirmed Cases

April 27

Deaths
Globally 3,063,814 212,345
United States 990,135 56,475
Spain 232,128 23,822
Italy 199,414 26,977
France 164,589 23,293
Germany 159,038 6,161
United Kingdom 157,149 21,092
Turkey 112,261 2,900
Russia 93,558 867
Iran 91,472 5,806
China 83,912 4,637

 

Domestic Violence on the Rise Amid Covid-19

Domestic Violence on the Rise Amid Covid-19

Policy:

Domestic violence around the world has exploded with the advent of the coronavirus.   Countries across the continents show increases in the rates of abuse attributed to the shelter in place mandates.   Increases in stressors such as financial recession, unemployment, natural disasters, and  the cancellation of major sports events are known to cause surges in domestic violence.  .  Women have been barred from the home if they seem to have any symptoms of illness and reports have been made of one partner (not always the man) hiding cleaning materials from their partners.  Children are also at risk, as the stress of caring for them 24 hours a day is added to other circumstances of sheltering at home mandates.  In comparisons to the same time frames from the previous year, Wuhan, China reports three times the rate of domestic violence; South African officials report 90 thousand calls in the first week of sheltering in place; Paris police report a 36% increase in police intervention for domestic violence incidents; and US cities have report increases in incidences ranging from 6%-35%. Australian authorities report a 75% increase in internet searches for help for domestic violence.

Countering this trend are reports suggesting that calls for shelter are going down since the virus led to shelter at home and social distancing mandates.  This is widely thought to be attributed to the fear that victims of domestic abuse have of calling  for help or the actual blocking of such attempts by the abusers.  The history of escalating violence in stressful situation is substantial and shelters and law enforcement believe that any drops are not indicative of fewer cases of violence but of more fear in asking for help or the inability to safely leave the situation.

Some countries have promoted the use of a code word “mask 19,” that victims can utilize in supermarkets to indicate they are in jeopardy.  Some grocery stores have set up crisis counselors to help.  Shelters can help by offering social distancing accommodations and, where necessary, quarantine quarters but that will not be enough to support all those in need.

Analysis:

In the US it is estimated that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will suffer domestic violence in their life time. Women are the primary users of shelters but not the exclusive victims of violence.  Even in normal conditions, some areas have difficulties facilitating shelter for all the victims in need; it can only be worse now.  Some countries are taking more extreme measures. In Paris the government has provided 20,000 hotel rooms for people fleeing violence at home.  The mayor of Los Angeles has made funds available for hotel rooms for those needing such aid.  In the US, Rihanna and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have contributed 4.2 million dollars for food, hotel rooms, and counseling for victims of domestic violence.  Victims of domestic violence are under immediate threat and can suffer long terms injury, or death, at the hands of a perpetrator.  With soaring incidences, it  seems logical to ask where are the national policies, programs, and funds to address this urgent problem?

Learn More:

Resistance Resources:

Photo by Sydney Sims

The Virus Is Used As An Excuse to  Threaten Women’s Right to Choose

The Virus Is Used As An Excuse to Threaten Women’s Right to Choose

Policy:

Almost immediately following the US Supreme Court Roe v Wade (1973) ruling to provide legal access to safe abortions, the rights of women have been challenged in the states. Legal cases have been filed to eliminate or restrict access to abortion and some have been successful. From January 1, 2011 to July 1, 2019 483 new restrictions were made, in various states, limiting access to abortion.  These comprise 40% of the restrictions on abortions made since the Roe v Wade decision.

Texas has been at the forefront of these mandates making abortion costs largely ineligible for private or public insurance, and for public employees, except when the mother’s life is in danger or there are severe health risks at stake.  They also have subjected clinics to strict requirements regarding staffing, equipment, and physical plants though the attempt to require doctors to have local hospital privileges was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016.  Nevertheless, the availability of clinics was reduced with 96% of Texas counties, representing 43% of Texas women, living in those counties.  The state also requires counseling, which is usually negative, and requires a 24 hour waiting period.  Texas also requires parental consent for minors, a requirement often cited as an additional stressor for the young women.  In contrast, in March 2020 the fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Louisiana law to require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.  The case will go to the Supreme Court where there is concern over the change in the judges sitting on the court from the earlier 2016 decision

With the advent of the corona virus several states have moved to ban abortions as non-essential procedures, including:  Texas, Ohio, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Iowa.  In Iowa the ruling was dropped since not all abortions were banned.   Mississippi and Kentucky also have moved to restrict abortion access during the pandemic though they are not so far part of the legal cases to reverse the ban in the five states listed above.  In early April injunctions allowing for clinics to remain open were made in Ohio, Texas, Alabama, and Oklahoma.  On April 7, 2020 the fifth Circuit court of Appeals upheld the Texas restrictions on abortions during the coronavirus pandemic stating:  “An emergency measure that postpones certain non-essential abortions during an epidemic— does not ‘beyond question’ violate the constitutional right to abortion.”  Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Center for Reproductive Rights make the case that banning the abortions violates a woman’s Constitutional rights.  The case is moving on to the US Supreme Court.

Analysis:

States moving to ban abortions as “nonessential” suggest that these procedures will drain personnel and resources from the efforts to treat Covid-19 patients,  but there is wide consensus that such actions will actually impede  public health and lead to more virus spread.  If women delay the time of specific abortions it may result in a different procedure, at a later stage of pregnancy, which can lead to more complications and require more medical intervention after the procedure.  This would siphon more resources in personnel, equipment, and hospital space from the emergency medical interventions required to treat  sufferers of the virus.  Denial of the right to a safe and legal abortion also promotes a return to the pre-legalization “Home” remedies and back alley abortions which can result in significant health risks of infection, hemorrhaging, and death.  These unsafe procedures would, without a doubt, ultimately tax the health systems.  They also pose a disproportionate threat to low income women and women of color who have fewer resources to pursue a legal abortion once they are limited.  Finally, it is shameful to politicize the issue of abortion, a right to choose, which was fought for and accomplished through legal avenues.  The battle against the current state lawsuits drains money, time, and resources from more pressing issues.

 

Learn More:

Resources:

UPDATE : Coronavirus

UPDATE : Coronavirus

This fourteen-day period has been dubbed the most critical point of this pandemic, where if the Americans efficiently limit the spread of the coronavirus, an anticipated crash of the healthcare system can be avoided. The commonly heard “flattening of the curve” refers to the wave of cases, where the high wave is a surge in cases. Flattening this curve is the result of the community doing their best to lower the peak, thereby preventing an onslaught of new patients. This crucial step can provide healthcare officials the much-needed reprieve in order to take care of those suffering from COVID-19, without burning through their already limited resources. With COVID-19 reaching all 50 states, cases are soaring as people do not adhere to the concept of social distancing or other safe practices.

The most effective way to prevent the spread is by practicing social distancing, which has been defined as simply keeping 6 feet way from people and by limiting your interaction with people outside of your home. With nearly a third of the globe’s population under movement restrictions, governments are somewhat in

Figure 1 Cases in the United States as of March 25, 2020

agreement that this approach can halt the spread, as predicted by experts. This practice is likely going to need to be in place until the pandemic subsides, but for now, it is important to do it for at least 14 days, ensuring those who have coronavirus or have been exposed to coronavirus, have time to fight the disease and not pass it along.

In response to the current crisis, US lawmakers agreed on a $2 trillion stimulus package early morning on March 25th to kickstart the struggling economy. While a final vote is expected later in the day, the creation and agreement of the bill is a momentous feat. It is expected that the bill will include $250 billion for direct payments to Americans and their families, $350 billion in small business loans, $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits, and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies. An additional $27 billion is to go to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to develop COVID-19 vaccines and countermeasures. Finally, the Centers for Disease Control will get an additional $4.3 billion through the fiscal year 2024 to combat the virus.

Again, below are best practices to protect yourself and others from getting and spreading the coronavirus:

  • Wash you hand thoroughly and frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • If you cannot wash your hands, use an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
  • Cough into your elbow or a tissue, immediately throw the tissue away and wash your hands
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Keep a safe distance from others, 6 feet is recommended
  • Stay home if you can and avoid going out unless it is necessary
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces.

The Policy

Recent US policies:

  • 30-day travel ban to and from EU- except the United Kingdom for non-Americans.
  • Closures of restaurants and eateries. Majority are only permitted to provide takeout and delivery, some states, like Virginia, are limiting restaurants to only serving 10 guests at a time.
  • State-wide lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have been put in place across the country.
  • Both a national stimulus and a relief package are being developed in congress, with an estimated ~$1000 going to adults and $500 per dependent to all Americans, expected to reach Americans by April 6th.
  • State Department officials say that terrorism charges may apply to individuals who intentionally spread COVID-19.

Analysis:

The severity of this pandemic is not being felt by all, with reports of college students still traveling for spring break, or people taking advantage of the rock-bottom prices of international flights. Nevertheless, this is a key time in this pandemic, and it could determine the success of healthcare workers and the duration of life under quarantines.

Critics of the proposed stimulus plan argue that it does not do enough for Americans and caters to businesses and corporations. With details still undisclosed, it cannot be effectively commented on. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a press conference, said the stimulus bill would fall very short of the needed assistance for New York. However, there is a provision within the bill that prevents Donald Trump, his family, and other top officials from getting loans or investments from the package. Supporters have praised the bill’s proposal of funding the recently defunded science led by the CDC and other public health services.

Engagement Resources:

For concerns about COVID-19, please seek assistance with the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, or local health officials.

Subscribe HERE to stay up to date with COVID-19

Numbers as of March 25, 2020 – Consult the CDC or Johns Hopkins for an update in numbers.

Top Ten Nations with Cases

Nation Confirmed Cases

Mar 25

Deaths
Globally 454,398 20,499
China (Mainland) 81,661 3,281
Italy 74,386 7,503
United States 61,167 809
Spain 47,610 3,434
Germany 37,066 205
Iran 27,017 2,077
France 22,654 1,100
Switzerland 10,897 153
South Korea 9,137 126
United Kingdom  8,365 435

 

UPDATE : Coronavirus

UPDATE : Coronavirus

COVID-19 has continued to wreak havoc on the health of thousands, now officially being called a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Conflicting information from the US government, specifically Donald Trump, and the Center for Disease Control has prompted confusion and panic across the US. With numbers climbing daily, the severity of this virus can no longer be ignored. After close monitoring for the past three months, it appears to be more fatal for older people and people with chronic diseases, specifically, autoimmune diseases. Even with this information, a cure is still at least a year away. The best course of action while a cure is still being developed is to prevent the spread, mitigate the symptoms, and take care of those suffering from COVID-19.

How do you protect yourself and others from the coronavirus and COVID-19?

  • Avoid exposure to the virus by avoiding coming in contact with people who have the virus. It is thought to spread through person to person contact, through respiratory droplets.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public space, or after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • If soap is not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth (entire face to be safe) with unwashed hands.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people; neither you nor that person may know if they are sick, best practice is to stay six feet away.
  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care and be mindful when seeking treatment to not spread whatever you may have.
  • Use your elbow or a tissue to cover your cough or sneeze, immediately dispose of the tissue and wash your hands.
  • Only wear a face mask if you are sick, if you are not, please do not wear one unless you are caring for someone who is sick. Face masks are in short supply and should be saved for care givers and medical professionals.
  • Clean and disinfect commonly and frequently touched surfaces.

While many understand to self-quarantine after experiencing symptoms, many are reporting feeling little solace due to the lack of available testing. There are presumptive positives across the country, but confirmation is difficult when test availability is low. Instead, people who are sick wait indefinitely for an administered test that may come after their 14-day quarantine, only to be told after, yes, they have COVID-19 or succumb to the virus.

With a coronavirus and COVID-19 finding its way to every American, there have been reports of citizens stockpiling in preparation for quarantines. Stores like Target are rationing hand sanitizer, Lysol, and toilet paper, as people are buying in bulk. Canned items and pasta are also flying off the shelves, notably, provinces in Italy too report empty aisles as the country grinds to a halt.

The Policy

Recent policies that have been enacted by the US have been directed at preventing the spread of COVID-19:

  • World Health Organization officially announces the outbreak of coronavirus as a pandemic.
  • Trump announced a 30-day travel ban on US flights to Europe, excluding the United Kingdom on March 11, 2020.
  • Italy’s nation-wide quarantine and travel ban. All stores and restaurants, except supermarkets, have been ordered to close after an already nation-wide lockdown. No flights are permitted in or out of Italy.

Analysis:

The current pandemic is testing the abilities of healthcare systems across the globe. With health care professionals also falling sick, resources are diminishing without much hope of an end in sight. As mentioned in a previous brief, the Administration has repeatedly announced conflicting information regarding the virus which does nothing, but ensure panic and confusion.

Current state of the economy

Markets have plunged as fears of the pandemic have taken hold in every avenue of life. Fears of a wider economic downturn loom as the virus spread across the globe and affects other markets. However, the Federal Reserve announced March 12th, that there would be multiple cash injections, totaling more than $1.5 trillion, to fund struggling markets.

Additional outcomes of this outbreak

  United States Internationally
State of Emergency Washington state, New York, Massachusetts announce March 10th China, Italy, Iran, Japan (some regions).
Cities or regions on lockdown New, Rochelle, NY – National Guard to deliver food Initially just northern Italy, now the entire country is restricted
Prohibition of gatherings Cancellation of political rallies, conferences, concerts; changes in how religious groups worship; the NBA has cancelled the rest of the season after Utah Jazz player contracts the virus. Futbol matches have been played without fans, large sports events have done the same or cancelled all together
Restriction on travel Amtrak Acela train cancellations from DC to NYC, Travel ban from US to Europe (excluding UK) All European flights to Italy have been cancelled, some nations considering curtailing international travel.
Schools cancel classes and go online Entire state of Washington has sent students home, many universities are following suit Nations have taken the precaution of keeping school children home
Notable Quarantines Multiple US GOP leaders, Actor Tom Hanks and Wife test positive Brazilian press secretary Fabio Wajngarten, Iran’s vice president and ministers.

 

Most recently, and seemingly most drastically, is the Trump Administration’s implementation of a 30-day travel ban to Europe, except for the UK. It is likely that cancellation of large events and the closing of education institutions will continue until the virus is under control. The stock market has repeatedly been rocked by the virus, prompting concern and insecurity. With little hope in sight, experts predict and economic downturn and a mild level of chaos, as people stop working.

The drastic changes that have happened as a result of COVID-19, outside of the health effects, have hurt people’s wallets, as they cannot work and are less likely to be spending money. Schools and students have and will continue to suffer through online courses replacing in-person ones, having to navigate quickly moving out of dorms, and for some losing access to food. These measures are drastic and will certainly have wide-ranging affects. Only time will tell if officials are making the right decisions in preventing the spread of the virus.

Engagement Resources:

For concerns about COVID-19, please seek assistance with the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, or local health officials.

Subscribe HERE to stay up to date with COVID-19

Updated from Feb 27, 2020-

Numbers as of March 12, 2020 – Consult the CDC or Johns Hopkins for an update in numbers. (NOTE: numbers now include “presumed positives” which are defined as cases that have been confirmed through state provided test kits or recommendations by physicians; where the results are waiting for confirmation from the CDC through their own tests.)

Nation Confirmed Cases

Feb 27/Mar 12

Deaths
Globally 127,800 4,718
Afghanistan 1/7 0/0
Albania -/15 -/1
Algeria 1/24 0/1
Andorra -/1 -/0
Argentina -/19 -/1
Armenia -/1 -/0
Australia 23/128 0/3
Austria 2/302 0/1
Azerbaijan -/11 -/0
Bahrain 33/195 0/0
Bangladesh -/3 -/0
Belarus -/12 -/0
Belgium 1/314 0/3
Bhutan -/1 -/0
Bolivia -/2 -/0
Bosnia & Herzegovina -/11 -/0
Brazil 1/52 0/0
Brunei -/11 -/0
Bulgaria -/7 -/1
Burkina Faso -/2 -/0
Cambodia 1/3 0/0
Cameroon -/2 -/0
Canada 11/117 0/2
Chile -/23 -/0
China (mainland) 77,658/80,932 2,744/3,172
Colombia -/9 -/0
Costa Rica -/22 -/0
Croatia 3/19 0/0
Cuba -/3 -/0
Cyprus -/6 -/0
Czech Republic -/94 -/0
Democratic Republic of Congo -/1 -/0
Denmark 1/615 0/0
Dominican Republic -/5 -/0
Ecuador -/17 -/0
Egypt 1/67 0/1
Estonia 1/16 0/0
Faroe Islands -/2 -/0
Finland 2/59 0/0
France 18/2,284 2/48
Germany 27/2,078 0/3
Greece 1/99 0/1
Georgia 1/24 0/0
Gibraltar -/1 -/0
Guyana -/1 -/1
Honduras -/2 -/0
Hong Kong 92/129 2/3
Iceland -/85 -/0
India 3/73 0/1
Indonesia -/34 -/1
Iran 245/ 10,075 26/429
Iraq 6/71 0/8
Ireland -/34 -/1
Israel 2/127 0/0
Italy 453/12,462 12/827
Ivory Coast -/1 -/0
Hungary -/13 -/0
Jamaica -/2 -/0
Japan 894/1,316 3/21
Jordan -/1 -/0
Kuwait 26/80 0/0
Latvia -/10 -/0
Lebanon 2/61 0/1
Liechtenstein -/1 -/0
Lithuania -/3 -/0
Luxembourg -/19 -/0
Macau 10/10 0/0

 

Malaysia 22/149 0/0
Maldives -/8 -/0
Malta -/6 -/0
Mexico -/12 -/0
Moldova -/3 -/0
Monaco -/1 -/0
Mongolia -/1 -/0
Morocco -/6 -/1
Nepal 1/1 0/0
Netherlands -/503 -/5
New Zealand -/5 -/0
Nigeria -/2 -/0
Norway 1/632 0/0
North Macedonia -/7 -/0
Oman 4/18 0/0
Pakistan 2/20 0/0
Panama -/11 -/1
Paraguay -/5 -/0
Peru -/15 -/0
Philippines 3/52 0/2
Poland -/47 -/0
Portugal -/59 -/0
Qatar -/262 -/0
Reunion -/1 -/0
Romania 1/49 0/0
Russia 2/28 0/0
San Marino -/69 -/3
Saudi Arabia -/45 -/0
Senegal -/4 -/0
Serbia -/19 -/0
Singapore 93/178 0/0
Slovakia -/10 -/0
Slovenia -/57 -/0
South Africa -/17 -/0
Spain 13/2,277 0/55
Sri Lanka 1/2 0/0
Sweden 2/500 0/1
Switzerland 4/652 0/4
Taiwan 32/49 1/1
Thailand 40/70 0/1
The Republic of Korea 1,766/7,869 13/66
Togo -/1 -/0
Tunisia -/7 -/0
Turkey -/1 -/0
Ukraine -/1 -/0
United Arab Emirates 13/74 0/0
United Kingdom 15/456 0/8
United States 41/1,269 0/37
Vatican City -/1 -/0
Vietnam 16/39 0/0
West Bank & Gaza -/26 -/0

 

The Coronavirus and an Inevitable Global Pandemic

The Coronavirus and an Inevitable Global Pandemic

What is Coronavirus?

International panic has ensued as a result of an outbreak of a respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus (CoV). The virus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now spread internationally to all continents except Antarctica.

The specific virus is named “SARS-CoV-2” and the respiratory disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (“COVID-19”). As previously mentioned, the origin of the virus is Wuhan City, likely from a live animal market, where multiple people became infected through contact with the animals. Transmission then occurred via person to person contact, spreading throughout China and internationally.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are flu-like, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear from two to fourteen days after exposure to the virus. There is still some uncertainty on how exactly the virus spreads.

With a growing 80,067 confirmed cases and 2,764 deaths COVID-19 is becoming a global pandemic with little confidence of a near end in sight. The infection percentage has been fatal in 2-4% of cases in Wuhan, but less than 1% across the globe, according to the World Health Organization. Currently, there no cure for COVID-19.

The Chinese authoritarian regime’s use of censorship has been blamed for its rapid spread during Chinese Lunar New Year. The lack of information shared with citizens and the rest of the globe likely was to portray the Chinese government as in control of the virus and to mitigate panic. However, by attempting to reduce its severity, COVID-19 spread unabated. One of the Chinese doctors who attempted to warn the public of the impeding epidemic reportedly died on February 6, 2020. He was threatened by police in the early stages of this outbreak, and later contracted the virus. Other outspoken citizens who tried to warn others were also silenced.

The Policy

Recent policies that have been enacted by the US have been directed at preventing the spread of COVID-19:

  • January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern external icon” (PHEIC).
  • On January 31, 2020, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared a public health emergency (PHE) for the United States to aid the nation’s healthcare community in responding to COVID-19.

Analysis:

Is the US Prepared

Being the global power that the US is, it can be assumed COVID-19 is certainly managible. In tandem with the Health and Human Services’ announcement of a public emergency concerning, the recent steps hospitals have taken in preparing for an outbreak, and the preventative measures taken with infected Americans trying to get back into the US, the US seems to be on the right path. However, the Health and Human Services Department has dissolved the Pandemic Preparedness Office, leaving no point person managing the American crisis. Additionally, significant funding cuts for the Center for Disease Control occurred during the Trump Administration resulting in a lack of resources for preparedness. Analysts and officials have made statements pointing towards the inevitability the US experiences a pandemic and that the US is simply not prepared to take on the onslaught of COVID-19, while government officials have contradicted scientists’ findings and predictions.

Is the rest of the world prepared?

China appears to be getting the virus under control, with daily confirmed cases on the decline, but infections are spreading rapidly in South Korea, Iran and Italy.  The world is not prepared for a major outbreak, World Health Organization officials said on Monday. As a result, it is imperative for nations to have sufficient educational programs informing citizens of the risks and ways to mitigate the spreading of COVID-19. While the likelihood of a global pandemic is high, the largest looming concern is what happens once it reaches Sub Saharan Africa? With Algeria and Egypt reporting the first cases on the continent, it is apparent that containment efforts have failed and the risk of a catastrophic outbreak on African soil could be on the horizon. Overall, it can be said that the globe is not prepared for COVID-19, but nations are learning from the Chinese response to the virus, which received praise by both the CDC and WHO.

What does this epidemic mean for the global economy and trade?

Markets have plunged as fears of an imminent pandemic are becoming more apparent. The Dow has lost more than 1,400 points in the last three trading days, eliminating all gains for the year so far. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also fell, and Asian markets have been suffering due to the virus. Fears of a wider economic downturn loom as the virus spreadas across the globe and affects other markets. Due to widespread infections, quarantines, and preventions of mass gatherings, manufacturing companies in China have had to halt production. As one of the top manufacturing countries, this has delayed or even halted production in other countries like the US, who depends on China for providing parts for electronic devices and cars. Tourism and travel sectors have suffered as well, as fears of being confined to a space with someone infected has been exemplified with the quarantining of the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan.

Additional outcomes of this outbreak

  • Widespread panic and fears
  • Increase in racism and xenophobia towards those of Asian decent
  • Decrease in international travel
  • Delayed key political meetings
  • Dips in stock markets and global economy
  • Concerns over large gathering for sporting events, like FIFA and Olympics

Engagement Resources:

Nation Confirmed Cases Deaths
Globally 80,067 2,764
Afghanistan 1 0
Algeria 1 0
Australia 23 0
Austria 2 0
Bahrain 33 0
Belgium 1 0
Brazil 1 0
Cambodia 1 0
Canada 11 0
China (mainland) 77,658 2,744
Croatia 3 0
Denmark 1 0
Egypt 1 0
Estonia 1 0
Finland 2 0
France 18 2
Germany 27 0
Greece 1 0
Georgia 1 0
Hong Kong 92 2
India 3 0
Iran 245 26
Iraq 6 0
Israel 2 0
Italy 453 12
Japan 894 3
Kuwait 26 0
Lebanon 2 0
Macau 10 0

 

Malaysia 22 0
Nepal 1 0
Norway 1 0
Oman 4 0
Pakistan 2 0
Philippines 3 0
Romania 1 0
Russia 2 0
Sri Lanka 1 0
Singapore 93 0
Spain 13 0
Sweden 2 0
Switzerland 4 0
Taiwan 32 1
Thailand 40 0
The Republic of Korea 1,766 13
United Arab Emirates 13 0
United Kingdom 15 0
United States 60 0
Vietnam 16 0

 

x
x

Join the Resistance---Your donation helps support the work we do to bring you news and analysis of government policies and the organizations seeking to resist them.

Pin It on Pinterest