There’s no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted Black communities, making it critical that they are at top of mind when policy decisions are being made. To examine the effects the pandemic has had on Black communities, we partnered with Louisiana State University’s (LSU) Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs to explore the lived experiences of Black residents throughout the Baton Rouge metro area.
Among the key findings:
45 percent of respondents have someone in their household with a serious health condition such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease or cancer.
45 percent of respondents have someone in their household employed in a position identified as essential work.
Respondents indicated that access to resources, including use of new media technologies, are crucial in supporting the community. These findings suggest that increasing digital literacies and accessibility (e.g., the use of debit card, SNAP and EBT online) and mitigating the digital divide, would help support communities as they seek to utilize digital spaces, such as shopping online and tele-medical services, to order supplies and medications.
50 percent of respondents reported having supported family financially before the pandemic, and since COVID-19, there is a reported increase among respondents who now support family members financially.
As part of our continued work, we will continue to lift up these important findings and the personal narratives we’ve gathered from participants. It’s important our policymakers understand the real impacts COVID-19 is having on our communities.
Truth. Action. Reconciliation
EPU’s weekly conversation series on how we move forward together to address the issues that surround race and equity in the South
Earlier in 2020, E Pluribus Unum launched Truth. Action. Reconciliation., a multi-part series of conversations that bring together our country’s greatest thinkers, activists, and leaders on race and equity. We started with the “Truth” Series, reviewing the past and explaining how we got to where we are on criminal justice, health equity, economic opportunity and democracy.
This week, we continue the tour with stops in Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina.
On this tour, we are traveling across the Deep South promoting the 2020 Census through creative, online engagement events and large-scale mobilization efforts. We know that a fair and accurate count is the first, critical step in recovering from the global pandemic. That’s why EPU founder and president Mitch Landrieu and Fair Count founder Stacey Abrams announced in August a partnership to increase census participation in the American South and the launch of the virtual bus tour “traveling” to communities across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.
The shortening of the already challenged 2020 Census, in tandem with the global COVID-19 pandemic, has placed our very democracy in a precarious state. Historically, the regions featured at these bus stops have been undercounted. The 2020 Census will direct more than $1.5 trillion through more than 300 programs for the next decade and divvy up political power through reapportionment and redistricting.
We only have 16 days left to respond to the 2020 Census.
The stops planned for yesterday and tonight in Louisiana have been rescheduled due to Hurricane Sally.
We start the week in Louisiana on Wednesday at 8 pm ET/ 7 pm CT with an all-women tele-townhall conversation. Depending on the impact of Hurricane Sally, this stop and Friday’s Mississippi stop could also be rescheduled on a later date.
Alabama: Alabama is now the last in the nation in Census response [AL.com]
Some families in Montgomery without internet access sit in their cars for hours each day so students can learn near a bus with a Wi-Fi hotspot [WSFA]
Arkansas: A review of the 39 Arkansas state prisoners who have died after testing positive for the coronavirus found that more than a quarter had been eligible for parole. Only 12 of the 39 were serving life sentences [Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette]
Florida: Employment has bounced back for South Florida’s highest earners, but not for low-wage workers. As of July, South Floridians earning at least $60,000 annually have an employment rate only 3.1 percent lower than January; low wage workers saw employment drop 15.8 percent over the same period [South Florida Business Journal]
Georgia: As COVID-19 hit Georgia meatpacking counties, officials and industry shifted blame [Facing South]
Kentucky: Kentucky officials are fearful that COVID-19 is going to limit the number of volunteers to serve at polling locations in the upcoming election. Several Kentucky breweries are helping the Secretary of State by adding special labels that promote the need for volunteers and have a QR code that links to the state’s election website [WHAS]
Louisiana: Officials sound alarm bells on New Orleanians not filling out the Census [Louisiana Weekly]
Mississippi: Sunday School Live and Go Ye Therefore Ministries have teamed up with Hinds County to register voters in a creative way during the pandemic. The “Cruise 2 Choose 2020 Voter Registration Drive-thru” will take place every Sunday in September [WLBT]
North Carolina: In rural North Carolina, many wait for internet service [WRAL]
South Carolina: The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) says the $25 million in federal relief funds it received in the spring to conduct COVID testing will not last much longer. MUSC conducts about 17 percent of all testing in the state and will need another $20.2 million to continue through the end of the year [The Post and Courier]
Texas: Texas universities have spent months planning for athletics during the pandemic, including enhanced coronavirus testing for student athletes. However, that same level of testing is not available to other Texas college students — even those living in high-risk settings like dorms [Texas Tribune]
Tennessee: Opinion: Change in racial discrimination takes a collective, uniform effort [The Tennessean]
Virginia: To keep bus drivers on the payroll, Fairfax County Public Schools directs some to drive empty buses along old routes [Washington Post]
West Virginia: The Charleston Area Medical Center will open a new COVID-19 drive through testing site on Wednesday. Due to the increasing need of community testing with schools reopening and middle and high school sports resuming, the testing is specifically for children and families [WOWK]