7-31-2020 Morning COVID-19 Brief


7-31-2020 Morning COVID-19 Brief

July 31, 2020

Congress Stalled, Economy Falling, Unemployment Assistance Expires

Unemployment assistance runs dry at the end of the day today placing pressure on Congress to work through a compromise. However, there is no deal in sight with the leadership in both parties far apart on what constitutes a compromise. The biggest hurdle is still the enhanced $600 unemployment benefit with Republicans offering an initial $200 per week compromise. The offer was increased by the White House to the requested $600 per week with the caveat that it would only last for four months and that it would be offered as a stand alone bill. The offer was not accepted, but new terms on the assistance were established. Beyond unemployment, leadership debated governmental relief with Democratic leadership optimistically asking for over $900 billion in funding. This is far apart from the Republican offer of zero with some members of the Senate and the Administration refusing state (and tribal) support. The sides seemed to be closer on business relief with the PPP program renewal.

The negotiations are set in a backdrop of really bad economic news. Individuals joining the ranks of the unemployed continue to pace at over one million per week, and the overall economy blew away the previous GDP contraction record set over sixty years ago. The negotiations continue to become more serious every week as the intertwined health and economic crises deepen. Individual spending, corporate viability, and government spending all are essential to the standing of the U.S. economy and all need support. Leaving any one of the economic legs unsupported will impact the others and cause further deterioration of the free falling GDP.

The economic importance of a deal on the enhanced unemployment assistance is especially critical. The data show that personal income actually went up during this recession by an impressive 7.3%. Taking out the stimulus and unemployment assistance swings that number in the opposite direction to a 6.1% decrease. Rents, mortgages, student loans, car payments, and discretionary spending are all tied to the enhanced assistance.

On the health front, Indian Country COVID-19 cases continue to rise with 31,431 confirmed cases and 1,135 deaths reported so far.

Updates and Resources: 

Quote of the Day: 

“I think this historic, deep neglect is just coming into sharper focus because of Covid. It’s always been there, but now you are seeing more clearly what the depths are.”

– Liz Malerba, Policy and Legislative Affairs Director, United South and Eastern Tribes

Native Americans Feel Devastated by the Virus Yet Overlooked in the Data (New York Times)

Volunteers assembling care packages and food at the Wapato Community Center in Wapato, Wash., this month. Credit: Mason Trinca for The New York Times

Chart of the Day:

Five years of U.S. economic growth vanished in the span of three months (Axios)

Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis vis FRED; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

  • The decline between April and June brought the U.S. GDP back to levels last seen in 2015.
  • While we fell into the hole swiftly, economists are dashing hopes of an equally swift recovery. They warn it could take years for the U.S. to recover.


'Our data is not counted': COVID-19 hitting Native Americans hard
 (WMAR Baltimore)

A Native American advocacy group is calling for the state [Maryland] to include indigenous people in the racial breakdown of COVID-19 data.

The organization called Native American Life Lines claims, like many communities of color, American Indians are being disproportionately impacted by the virus.

“I cannot tell you with any certainty how COVID-19 is impacting my community," said Kerry Hawk-Lassard, the executive director at Native American Life Lines. "The reason is that our data is not counted.”

With Navajo Nation hit hard by Covid-19, this CNN Hero's mission to help vulnerable elders has a new urgency (CNN)

Before Covid-19 hit, elders living on the Navajo Nation were already among the most vulnerable.

As the virus spread, their situation became even more dire.

"There are many, many elderly people on the reservation that are homebound and alone," said CNN Hero Linda Myers, whose non-profit provides lifesaving supplies for Native American elders. "Some of our elders live 60 miles from a grocery store. Many of them are traditional and don't have running water or electricity."

What Indian Country Remembers About Survival (resilience.org)

Yet Indigenous communities are showing how community care and self-determination can provide security and solutions during times like this.
Indigenous values are woven throughout implementation. Elders are being prioritized, culture and language are being integrated and honored, and above all the organizers and volunteers are practicing compassion and care for the whole, rather than individualism.