America has now reached a loss that was once unimaginable 1 million deaths from COVID-19. How could this happen in the richest country in the world?
In short, because of poverty — and the policy choices that perpetuate it. Our task now is to make a different choice.
Americans across the country have suffered during this pandemic.but New Research on Poor People’s Movement A strong indication that the poor and low-income earners suffer the most. Even controlling for vaccination rates, they found that the COVID-19 death rate in poorer U.S. counties was nearly double that of richer counties. During the deadliest phase of the pandemic, it rose fivefold.
White Americans still account for the largest share of America’s poor and those who have died from COVID-19.But America’s poorest counties have significantly higher rates of Black, Hispanic and Native Americans, and high COVID-19 casualty rates significantly higher for many communities of color.
For a number of reasons, poor Americans are hardest hit. Because they make up a large percentage of low-paid front-line workers, they are more vulnerable to the virus, and if they do, they often don’t have paid sick leave. They were also more likely to lack health insurance and have pre-existing medical conditions.
But it’s not just the poor who suffer. Equally important, the wealthiest Americans have seen their wealth soar.
Collective wealth of U.S. billionaires surged through May $1.7 trillion According to the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and the American Institute for Tax Fairness, since the beginning of the pandemic. Elon Musk His wealth alone has grown more than tenfold.
That’s not all. In 2020, more than half of the largest low-wage employers in the U.S. broke the rules by giving CEOs big pay raises, even as their essential workers were laid off. generally, CEOs of these companies earn more than $15 million a year— more than their median employee earned in eight centuries.
And now, those who have benefited the most from the pandemic are trying to pull back the curtain on those who have been hit the hardest. They spend vast sums to undo some of the most important public policies our nation has seen in generations.
president Joe Bidenof American Rescue Program Make tests and vaccines almost universally available. It also provided stimulus payments, expanded unemployment insurance, made the child tax credit more generous, and increased aid for everything from food to health insurance.
These life-saving measures have vaccinated hundreds of millions of Americans and helped millions through extremely difficult times.Expand the child tax credit only Reduce child poverty by 30%– Amazing achievement, even if incomplete.
but billionaire, executive and company Those who have seen their fortunes flourish have poured money into the campaign coffers of politicians who oppose the measures.when the Democrats Joe Manchin added each Senate Republicans oppose updating and expanding these plans — and are In return with campaign cash– they withered on the vine.
Now Child poverty soars, Wage hikes fail to keep up with inflation and Millions at risk of losing health insurance. to date, Congress even have Failure to continue funding for COVID-19 research, vaccines and testing.
politicians sacrifice 140 million poor or low-income Americans It’s what made the epidemic so deadly in the first place. We should not exacerbate the tragedy of one million COVID-19 deaths by allowing it to continue.
With midterm elections looming, Congress should move quickly to pass “billionaire tax“and a Windfall tax on pandemic profits— especially in industries such as oil companies that keep raising prices. Lawmakers can use the money to help families meet their basic needs.
Congress should also Supporting domestic and international COVID-19 vaccination effortsto prevent unnecessary suffering and new variants of COVID-19.
Even if Congress doesn’t act, President Biden can.he can issue administrative action Relieve student loan debt for 43 million borrowers, lower prescription drug costs, raise wages for workers by raising overtime eligibility thresholds, and Making it harder for companies with stark CEO-employee pay gaps to get federal contracts.
Finally, we need a multiracial moral movement that gives real people a voice in the rustling of dollar bills. On June 18, the Poor People’s Movement and thousands of supporters will rally on the National Mall Morality March on Washington and Polls June 18. Invited to attend.
The pandemic has taken an almost incomprehensible toll on our country. One thing we must not lose is our determination to treat their pre-existing disease.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is National Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Movement: A Call for Moral Revival.
Tope Folarin is Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Studies.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.