One in 3 jobs held by women has been designated as “essential” during the coronavirus pandemic. That’s according to a New York Times analysis of U.S. Census data that also found that nonwhite women are the most likely to be doing essential work. Cambpell Robertson and Robert Gebeloff report:
From the cashier to the emergency room nurse to the drugstore pharmacist to the home health aide taking the bus to check on her older client, the soldier on the front lines of the current national emergency is most likely a woman. … The work they do has often been underpaid and undervalued — an unseen labor force that keeps the country running and takes care of those most in need, whether or not there is a pandemic.
With more than 22 million Americans having filed for unemployment benefits in the past month, new data also show women are taking the hardest hit in initial job losses. Elise Gould, Ben Zipperer, and Jori Kandra of The Economic Policy Institute have more:
Women may continue to be overrepresented among claimants, more so than their sector averages would suggest. This may be true for the reasons already stated—women hold jobs within sectors that may be materially different from the jobs men hold. For instance, if women are less likely to be managers within an establishment and all but the high-level managers are laid off, women will be more likely to be laid off.
Better data needed on racial disparities
The disproportionate toll of Covid-19 on people and communities of color is prompting leaders across the country to call for more comprehensive data collection along with new strategies to address the disparities. The AP’s Kat Staford, Meghan Hoyer and Aaron Morrison report that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data on coronavirus cases is missing data on race in 75% of all cases, putting the onus on state health departments to do better.
Roughly half the states, representing less than a fifth of the nation’s COVID-19 deaths, have yet to release demographic data on fatalities. In states that have, about a quarter of the death records are missing racial details. … The release of demographic data for the country’s coronavirus victims remains a priority for many civil rights and public health advocates, who say the numbers are needed to address disparities in the national response to the pandemic.
Public health and Covid-19
Life expectancy in America rose dramatically in the 20th century, in large part because of investments in public health that helped reduce preventable deaths among children and working-age adults by containing infectious diseases and ensuring broader access to things like safe food and drinking water. But in recent decades those public investments have waned, which helps explain why health systems in America were so unprepared for the novel coronavirus pandemic. The New York Times’ Jeneen Interlandi reports that there is a $5.4 billion gap between current public health spending and the cost of modernizing our public health infrastructure:
However much money is ultimately allotted for this work, it will have to be deployed equitably, in high-income and low-income communities alike. Health departments everywhere are struggling to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, but that struggle is particularly acute in marginalized communities, where health is already fragile, public health departments are sometimes nonexistent and mistrust of officials tends to run high.
Remembering April Dunn
She was a model high school student who made the honor roll and never missed a day in four years. But April Dunn, born with fetal alcohol syndrome and cerebral palsy, couldn’t pass the exit exam required to graduate so she didn’t earn a diploma from Glen Oaks High School in Baton Rouge. Years later, Dunn became a “driving force” behind a bill – now a law – that provides alternative paths to graduation for students with disabilities. The Washington Post’s Derek Hawkins takes a moving look at a woman whose life was cut short by coronavirus, but who showed the difference that one determined person can make on public policy:
“She was a humanitarian in the best sense of the word,” said her colleague Jamar Ennis, assistant director of disability affairs in the governor’s office. “To put it simply, she’s the most determined person I’ve ever met.” She was also a highly respected presence in the state capitol, unafraid to call officials at all hours of the day to discuss her efforts. “She brightened everyone’s day with her smile, was a tremendous asset to our team and an inspiration to everyone who met her,” (Gov. John Bel) Edwards said in a statement.
Group urges Gov. Edwards to end wage garnishment during pandemic
A group of more than 30 community, legal services, consumer and advocacy organizations is urging Gov. John Bel Edwards to immediately halt the garnishment of federal CARES Act payments, as well as other harmful debt collection activity, during the ongoing public health emergency.
This extraordinary measure is necessary for these unprecedented times. Suspending debt collection efforts will mitigate the economic impact COVID-19 has on Louisiana residents. We urge you to implement this proposed Executive Order as soon as possible to protect the stimulus payments, and to avoid further devastating economic harm.
Didja Know?: Voting in a Pandemic
In the latest episode of LBP’s podcast, communications director Jamie Carson speaks with state Rep. Mandie Landry about the Senate’s decision to block an emergency coronavirus election plan, and her bill to expand mail-in voting. Then we chat with Ashley Shelton, executive director of the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, about protecting democracy during a pandemic. Click here to listen.
LBP wants to hear from you!
In order to better inform our advocacy, LBP wants to know about the experiences of Louisiana workers who are trying to apply for unemployment insurance. Click here to complete our survey.
Number of the Day
23,928 – Number of Covid-19 cases in Louisiana as of Sunday. That figure is almost certainly an undercount, officials say, and so too is the number of deaths attributed to the virus (Source: The Advocate)