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Faith In Action Calls On Congress To Put Racial Equity Front And Center Of CARES 2 Stimulus Package

Faith in Action Calls On Congress to Put Racial Equity Front and Center of CARES 2 Stimulus Package

Faith in Action, Faith in the Valley’s parent organization, sent the following letter to Congress on May 6, 2020. Learn more about Faith in Action on their website.

Dear Members of Congress:

As grassroots, faith-based organizations representing 500,000 families, we are hearing more and more stories of pain and grief, as people lose loved ones to COVID-19. The pandemic is reaching every corner of the country while falling most heavily on Black people who are dying at extraordinarily high rates. People of color, immigrants, health care workers, and those who live in marginalized urban, rural, and tribal communities are disproportionately struggling to survive and stay safe without jobs, income, and reliable access to health care. The virus is worsening already enormous problems of mass incarceration and deportation, and racial and class disparities in access to health and economic security. And we are seeing a vicious rise in racism and xenophobia against Asian Americans.

This public health and humanitarian crisis calls for bold and moral leadership from Congress to remedy the deep and systemic racial inequities in our country. To save lives and limit the damage to our society and economy, our response to this crisis must be both universal, providing protection, care, and support to everyone, and targeted, focusing resources on people and communities most at-risk. To date, the federal response has exacerbated rather than alleviated racial inequality, putting all of our health and wellbeing at-risk. As Congress works on another large stimulus bill it must put racial equity front and center, target resources to those communities that are hardest hit, and embrace policies that provide health care, living wages, and a strong safety net to everyone. These specific and detailed recommendations for inclusion in CARES2 are starting place.

Target all federal money to people and communities hardest hit by COVID-19 and job losses.

The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black communities is a national disgrace. We are witnessing Black people dying from COVID-19 in different states and cities at two to six times the rate of White people. We are also seeing disproportionately high infection and death rates among Latinos, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and immigrants in some counties and states. As of April 28, in New York Black residents were dying at 4 times the rate of White residents, and Latinos 3.4 times the rate of White residents.Pre-existing racial disparities are to testing, treatment and financial support. The CARES Act failed to target resources to communities based on need, and excluded immigrant families. Since its passage, awareness of racial disparities in the nation’s response to the pandemic has become more widespread. Racial equity needs to be a cornerstone of CARES2 and that must include targeting provisions applied to all federal COVID-19 so that resources get to those who most need them.

Congress should build on some of the modest progress in reporting and targeting made in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which requires reporting on racial disparities in testing, confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. It also sets aside $4.5 billion of the $25 billion in funding for testing based on a formula related to the number of COVID-19 cases and sets aside a modest amount of testing dollars ($825 million) for urban and rural health community centers, as well as $30 billion in small business lending authority for Community Development Financial Institutions.

The following provisions should be included in CARES2 so that resources flow to the greatest need, and racial disparities are reduced:

  • All health care funding should be allocated by a formula based on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths
  • All aid to state and local government should be allocated by a formula that includes both confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths as well as unemployment, poverty, and job loss
  • Funding for hospitals and health care facilities should include set-asides for rural and urban safety-net hospitals and community health centers
  • Reporting requirements should be extended to include program participation so we have an accurate picture of who is benefiting from federal funding, as well as disaggregating data to include Native, Asian, and Pacific Islander communities.

Read more at Faith in the Valley.

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