Tag Archive for: Congress


Dr. Paul Zeitz

Launch of National Peoples’ Mobilization Calls for “COVID-19 Peoples’ New Deal” Requires Putting People First, Not Profits

With the unnecessary death of over 50,000 Americans and many thousands more predicted to die, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Group launched a national peoples’ mobilization today to demand that our political leaders prioritize saving as many lives as possible and take action to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 deaths.  

The COVID-19 Emergency Response Group calls on Congress to urgently approve a comprehensive package of health and social measures that must address the racial and ethnic disparities that make Latinos and African-Americans more vulnerable, and the needs of immigrants, incarcerated people, and the homeless. Leaders call for the immediate passage of a “COVID-19 Peoples’ New Deal” as part of the next COVID-19 stimulus package to protect, test, and treat:

  1. Effective Public Health Response: rapid implementation of the National COVID-19 Containment Program for Rapid Testing, Contact Tracing, & Isolation; All health providers and essential employees must be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure that they can prevent COVID-19 infection.
  2. Urgent Services for the People: Emergency hunger prevention by expanding food stamps through SNAP; emergency rental assistance by providing $100 billion of emergency funding; urgent nationwide moratorium on shutoff of water, electricity, and broadband services, and they receive free COVID-19 emergency medical services;
  3. Emergency Support to Cities and Local Governments: At least $500 billion is needed to enable cities and local governments to maintain services and create jobs by prioritizing renewable energy and sustainability as part of the American economic recovery.

Statements from Leaders:

Dennis Kucinich, Former Member of Congress: “As governments move to protect Wall Street and financial systems from collapse, so, too, must they move to protect Main Street and social systems, to provide money, health care, food, and all those things which protect people.”

Professor Elizabeth Kucinich, Regenerative Systems Consultant, documentary filmmaker: “If we have learned anything from this current COVID-19 crisis it is that each of us is interconnected and interdependent. What happens to one affects all. It is imperative that local, state and federal policies address the needs of everyone. An inclusive  approach to food security, healthcare, economic well being, and access to communications for all is imperative for the vitality of our nation. To ignore our most vulnerable populations would be suicide.” 

Mustafa Ali, former Senior EPA Official & former senior advisor to President Obama, Environmental Justice leader: “Communities of color, lower-wealth communities and indigenous peoples continue to be the sacrifice zones where they are hit first and worst from pollution, climate change and now COVID-19. We must move our most vulnerable communities from surviving to thriving-and we can do it together as a beloved community.”

Domingo Garcia, President of LULAC: We must bold action to protect the lives of black and Hispanic people who are suffering disproportionately from COVID-19 because of the system of poverty and poor health care.  Latinos are on the front lines in the COVID-19 crisis on farms and factories, and they must be protected from COVID-19 with personal protective equipment (PPE) every day to reduce the risk of COVID19 infection at their jobs. LULAC is calling for Latinos to have access to emergency paid sick leave, expanded unemployment insurance and free testing and treatment.”

Mayor Jennifer Roberts, former Mayor of Charlotte, NC: “We need more stimulus funds to go directly to our cities and counties. They are on the front lines for public health, housing, small business, and other needs, and thousands of cities are facing budget shortfalls that will result in service reduction – in areas like public safety – without direct federal assistance.”

Jean Su, Energy Justice Program Director and an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, based in Washington, D.C.: “It’s deeply disappointing that this past Congressional package failed to include a moratorium on shutoffs of electricity, water and broadband services during this pandemic. Nearly forty percent of America is not covered by any state-mandated moratorium on power shutoffs, leaving millions of families unprotected and vulnerable to crippling debt. People’s needs shouldn’t be sacrificed for corporate balance sheets, and we’ll keep fighting to make sure this basic safeguard is in the next legislative package.”  

Dr. Walter Tsou, former Commissioner of Health, Philadelphia & former President of the American Public Health Association:  “Opening without a plan will not only cost lives, it will prolong the wave of joblessness, hunger and homelessness that is sweeping over our country. Just the act of gathering in crowds, which violates all social distancing rules, is turning the clock of recovery backwards.” 

Dr. Paul Zeitz, Executive Director of Build A Movement 2020 & Co-Chair of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Group: “Congress took an important step in providing $25 billion for a national testing strategy. Implementation must focus on a robust COVID-19 containment program for people living in nursing homes, the homeless, imprisoned people, and African-America and Latinos who are the most vulnerable populations.”

The COVID-19 Emergency Response Group was formed in March 2020 by leading public health experts, faith and business leaders, current & former senior Congressional Hill staffers, current and former local and state elected officials, and leaders of global, national and local NGOs. Our mission is to support others in mobilizing the people’s voice to save as many lives as possible.

PRESS RELEASE: COVID-19 Task Force Urges Social Distancing During Easter, Passover, and Ramadan.

Dr. Paul Zeitz

Experts Recommend Restrictive Physical Distancing Orders During  Religious Gatherings during Easter, Passover, and Ramadan 

Evidence Proves Dangerous Transmission of COVID-19 in Religious Gatherings

(6 April 2020, Washington DC)  Mounting evidence demonstrates that the COVID-19 virus is rapidly being transmitted during religious gatherings in the USA where social distancing is not being implemented. 

The Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University, a member of the recently formed COVID-19 Emergency Response Group, released a policy brief,“Saving Lives Through Getting Religions on Board,” stating:

  • COVID-19 outbreaks in the USA and around the world are attributable to religious gatherings, featuring heavy singing, loud prayer, celebration, and mourning – all in close quarters. 
  • Evidence shows that religious gatherings are sparking COVID-19 transmission leading to increased illness, death, and transmission to religious community members by asymptomatic carriers. 
  • These outbreaks are occurring across every religious group in all parts of the USA and around the world. 

The COVID-19 Emergency Response Group (a newly forming coalition of public health experts, academics, religious leaders, and civic organizations) is calling for urgent action by the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), governors, and religious leaders and denominations to implement and enforce social distancing orders during Easter, Passover, and Ramadan in order to reduce COVID-19 transmission and save as many lives as possible:

  • Call on President Trump and Congress to implement a national shelter-in-home order during April 2020 to include religious gatherings;
  • Call on Governors of Ten States should remove exemptions and loopholes for religious gatherings in their social distancing orders: Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin;
  • Call on Governors of Nine States should immediately implement shelter-in-home orders and include religious gatherings: South Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, South Dakota, and North Dakota;
  • Call on political leaders and public health officials to mobilize religious leaders from all faiths to abide by shelter-in-home and restrictive social distancing orders during the April 2020 holidays of Easter, Passover, and Ramadan and encourage the use of technology to create virtual prayer and community experiences.

Leadership Statements:

Joel Segal, National Coordinator, COVID-19 Emergency Response Group, stated: “We can ill afford to lose one person to COVID-19, because every life is precious. We as a nation cannot rush to resume our normal lives at this point as it can result in many needless deaths. President Trump must carefully listen to our nation’s leading infectious disease specialists, including his senior advisors, and adhere to their suggested protocol of staying home unless you absolutely have to leave, including for religious gatherings.  

Rev. Dr. Rodney S. Sadler, Jr., Director, Center for Social Justice and Reconciliation, Union Presbyterian Seminary stated:

Fellowship is important, imperative for the Christian faith, particularly during the high holidays like Good Friday and Easter. Fellowship is fundamental to the core of the church, the ekklesia, for the “assembly” is what we are called. But during this time of CoVid 19 quarantine, we need to be careful with the other metaphor for the Church, the “body of Christ.”  Inasmuch as we are a body, this virus puts us all at risk. As one body, Paul reminds us to care for our weaker members. In this instance, those most vulnerable to infection, those most at risk of succumbing, often those core older of chronically infirm members of our congregations. 

During this period we should fellowship; but our fellowship should be virtual, employing the technology God has given us to protect the “weaker” members, so that the whole body remains whole. God stands with us in these perilous times. Whether in the building together or individually in our homes, God remains with us. The one who said “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” the one who said, “I am with you until the end of the age” is true. We do not have to worry, even as we protect Christ’s body in quarantine, the Lord is with us, still.  And after this period of intentional physical separation, just as Christ was resurrected, our communal fellowship will be as well. Of this we can be sure.”

Rabbi Dr. Marc Gopin, Professor at the Carter School, George Mason University stated: “Now is the time for all religious communities to embrace their common commitment to the absolute sacredness of every life, to embrace the heroic work of the medical community on the front lines, and to demonstrate their love for their communities by moving all ritual, social, celebratory and grieving expressions online exclusively.”

Dr. Paul Zeitz, physician epidemiologist, Co-Chair COVID-19 Emergency Response Group and Founder of Build A Movement 2020 stated: “Urgent action is needed to reduce COVID-19 transmission during April 2020. All religious leaders should urgently restrict and eliminate religious gatherings and implement virtual prayer experiences during Easter, Passover, and Ramadan. Rigorous physical distancing can reduce COVID-19 transmission and literally save the lives of your community.”

The “COVID-19 Emergency Response Group” was formed in March 2020 by leading public health experts, faith and business leaders, former senior Congressional Hill staffers, local and state elected officials, and leaders of national NGOs. Our mission is to mobilize the citizen’s voice to save as many lives as possible.

Step 3- Consolidate our focus: Support a single bill for action

People often say our governmental leaders aren’t doing enough on climate change and they are right. The effort to date isn’t close to what’s needed to save humanity, which is why in Step 2 of our roadmap to climate justice we urged you to demand that our leaders commit to Climate Restoration, not just curbing carbon emissions. 

Without a doubt, our leaders are failing us as Build a Movement 2020’s climate scorecard makes clear.

But, we also have to realize that they are doing something (some of them, anyway). Did you know that right now there are about 50 bills languishing in Congress all offering solutions to global warming? 

This piecemeal approach, while commendable, represents a thousand flowers blooming, and nothing will become law. What we need is a bouquet of flowers that becomes a single, powerful message of lasting change. 

What if instead, we urge our political leaders to get behind a SINGLE bill that would in fact spur the tipping point of real change? This is Step 3. 

To recap:

Step 1: Forge systemic change


Step 2Demand more


And Step 3:  Consolidate our focus.

We are building a movement to consolidate support around significant Congressional action for change. 

Climate Restoration is already prioritized in recently introduced Congressional Climate Emergency Resolutions (S.Con.Res.22, H.Con.Res.52) and by Santa Clara County, California (Res. 98193). Passing these bills into law would kickstart a worldwide “Climate Restoration Emergency Action” that can ensure that humanity can survive on Earth for generations. 

So far, our presidential candidates aren’t committing to Climate Restoration. Together, we will change that.

We can mobilize a bipartisan political movement to return atmospheric CO2 to safe pre-industrial levels by 2030 and restore Arctic ice to prevent permafrost melt and the resulting disastrous methane emissions.

Climate restoration won’t be easy — in fact, it will be the most challenging endeavor humanity has ever undertaken — but it can and urgently must be done, as fast as possible.

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