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PEOPLE DEMAND BOLD ACTION TO SAVE LIVES, PREVENT SECOND WAVE OF DEATH

PRESS RELEASE 
CONTACT:
Dr. Paul Zeitz
drpaulzeitz@gmail.com
+1-202-365-6786 

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.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Dr. Paul Zeitz
drpaulzeitz@gmail.com
+1-202-365-6786 

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.

The Gift of New Possibilities after Coronavirus

By Rabbi Michael Lerner, special for DrPaulZeitz.org.

The Coronavirus pandemic has revealed the deep spiritual crisis in our world and given us this moment to deal with it. Will we come out of this period of social distancing by feeling that we are surrounded by selfish people who have absorbed the capitalist value of “looking out for number one,” hoarding the toilet paper and healthy food, medications, face masks and gloves and other consumer items—meanwhile depriving others of what they need?

Or will we focus globally and in the U.S. on the hundreds of thousands of doctors and nurses and others who risking their lives to help those who are or may be afflicted by the coronavirus, people they don’t know.

It should be no surprise if tens of millions of Americans feel that their experience of isolation and social media on each other’s selfishness taught them to put their own interests above everyone else, because they will be returning to a work world in which looking out for number one is in fact what gets most rewarded.

We should not let the ethos of selfishness win out.

New Possibilities of Care in the Time of Coronavirus

We need to use the weeks and months ahead to encourage our fellow Americans to join with each other to embrace a totally different way of organizing our society—Revolutionary Love in which we build a caring society—caring for each other, and caring for the earth. Inspired by the prophets of ancient Israel, by Jesus, Gandhi, Sister Joan Chittister, Martin Luther King Jr., the Dalai Lama, Pope Francis, the Sufis, Bell Hooks, Riane Eisler, Carol Gilligan and so many other secular humanists and religious progressives, there is reason to believe that many people can can respond to a different vision if they see enough people rallying around the same vision.

The first step is to insist that our society embrace a “New Bottom Line.” Instead of judging every aspect of our lives together by how much money, wealth or power gets accumulated, we should judge our economy, our corporations, our government policies, our legal system, our educational system, our cultural systems and our own personal behavior to be rational, productive, and efficient to the extent they maximize our capacities to be loving and generous, kind and forgiving, caring for each other and caring for the earth, joyous and compassionate, promoting environmental sanity and social justice, ethical behavior and spiritual depth, treating others as manifestations of the sacred rather than valuing them to the extent that they are actually or potentially useful to us, and responding to Earth and the larger universe with awe, wonder and radical amazement (rather than simply as something that can be turned into a commodity to make a profit.)

 Almost every progressive movement holds these values, but sadly never articulates them publicly. That is part of what we can do through zoom and social media and through everyone on your personal email lists.

For the 98% who will survive coronavirus, the opportunity to be away from oppressive or alienating or meaningless work, the opportunity to be with our families who normally don’t get enough of our time, the opportunity to think about our own inner life, our soul, the short time that we as humans have before we die, can open up deep questions about whether we want to return to the same lives we had before this plague.

Based on the research the Institute for LABOR AND MENTAL HEALTH did with American middle income workers and families, we know that there is a deep pain in the lives of many Americans.

People hunger for a life in which they feel respected, cared for by others, and connected to some higher meaning for their lives beyond the accumulation of money or power. Seeing no way to get this, many try to bury the pain of this great deprivation by turning to drugs, alcohol, embracing extremist versions of right wing politics or religion.

A Progressive Response to Troubled Times

A progressive movement that talked about love and caring and embodied that in its daily activities could provide a healthy alternative and alleviate much of this suffering.

We can do this now by building a movement for love and justice that calls for a New Bottom.

Now is the time for us to act, precisely at the moment when we ourselves, our friends and neighbors have been ripped from our immersion in “business as usual.” Send this, please, to everyone you can reach on zoom or email or social media, and help them see what a great opportunity this pandemic is giving us—if we choose to use it that way.

In the final analysis, it is our capacity for love, hope and generosity that will help us heal from the fears that so many of us have experienced these past weeks.

****

Would you like to organize for action?
Topic: COVID 19 Emergency Working Group
Time: Mar 27, 2020 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/267935095 Meeting ID: 267 935 095

About the author: Rabbi Michael Lerner is the editor of Tikkun and chair of the interfaith and secular-humanist-welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives. His vision is spelled out his newest book Revolutionary Love: A Political Manifesto to Heal and Transform the World.

Breaking the Chain of COVID-19 Transmission Begins at Home

Isolation of Mild Cases Can Save Lives by Breaking the Chain of COVID-19

In recent days, the rhetoric around the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted, from this being a problem that will solve itself to urgent calls to “flatten the curve.” That is, save as many lives as possibly by slowing the uptick of new infections to prevent health systems from becoming overwhelmed over a short period.

In the short history of this crisis, only two countries have successfully flattened the curve of new infections, thus breaking the chain of COVID-19: South Korea and China. Because they were prepared to take extreme measures that other countries are still not courageous enough to do.

One of those steps was to dramatically expand free testing and refine procedures for reporting new cases. The other key strategy was to isolate people with mild COVID-19 illness cases in hotels and dormitories instead of sending those sick and infected people back into shared accommodations or their family homes.

Household transmission is very difficult to prevent, and in multigenerational living situations, it threatens those populations most likely to die from the virus. Breaking the chain of household transmission is key, according to the World Health Organization. Isolation of infected people is one leg of a three-legged stool that also includes testing all suspected cases and properly quarantining close contacts.

Rapid Testing, Isolation Key to Breaking the Chain of COVID-19

Isolation of mild cases is a hard sell for families, friends and partners.

At a time of stress and uncertainty, we want to be with our loved ones. Isolating alone in an unfamiliar place can be painful, lonely and boring, especially if your symptoms are mild. You may even feel fine. But it is a critical step for interrupting transmission and ultimately saving lives.

Isolation seems to be working in South Korea and China, where COVID-19 transmission rates are declining. In Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, no new daily infections were reported for the first time.

Here in the U.S., we are weeks behind–in both the curve of the outbreak and the response. Cases of COVID-19 are about to surpass South Korea, and our rate of new infections now closely follows countries where thousands have already died from the virus. Testing is still not universally available, as both anecdotes and data have shown.

Here in the USA, aggressive isolation of mild cases is something we can do right now. It’s tough, but temporary.  And it’s logistically feasible and affordable.

People with mild cases can be housed comfortably in university dormitories, hotels, or other available locations currently sitting empty.  Both public and private universities, and potentially the hospitality industry, could contribute to this effort while also freeing up urgently needed medical resources to be deployed for those at greatest risk. Leaders at all levels of government should immediately develop plans to launch this strategy as fast as possible.

We have the means, but do we have the will? Now is the time to be courageous. And courage requires both sacrifice and optimism, as I explained in my recent prescription for the troubled times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We must believe in the best of ourselves as humans and members of a shared society. And that means believing that the hardest, most counterintuitive human response—going it alone­—will ultimately be the best choice for saving as many lives as possible.

*****

Are you ready for Waging Optimism? Here’s my prescription for creating a national movement of grassroots change that can effectively tackle the significant challenges we face, from the coronavirus to climate and to our broken democracy. Get your copy for a limited time for just .99 by clicking here. Use the share buttons to invite others to join you in an optimism approach to these troubled time.

My prescription for health in a time of coronavirus

In this unprecedented global health crisis, information is an antidote to panic. Your health and safety in a time of coronavirus will be improved by using proper information for proper steps of action.

By understanding the changes coming within our communities, states, and country, we can act together in solidarity even as we practice acts of kindness and responsibility like social distancing, work from home, canceling events and other significant changes to our way of life.

I’m an epidemiologist. I once founded and served as the Executive Director of the Global AIDS Alliance that helped build the cross-partisan political will to combat the global AIDS pandemic. Against seemingly insurmountable odds, we all were able to work together to forever alter the course of this deadly disease.

We can and will do it again. Now. Here’s my prescription for health in these troubled times of the coronavirus.

coronavirus prescription

RX: health in a time of coronavirus

  1. Take a healthy dose of optimism three times a day. Refills are unlimited. Based on a lifetime of experience working on crises just like this, I can tell you, it starts with one of the hardest, but most critical steps. It starts with Waging Optimism. I’m an unapologetic optimist. I’ve seen the power of my mindset at work. It’s the match the ignites of seismic change for good. My guide to Waging Optimism is here and can support you to be courageous and make a commitment for under a dollar.
  2. Waging Justice once a day: We don’t have to sit back, afraid and do nothing. We don’t have to binge Netflix. We can use our time to take action by Waging Justice for all. Every day we can exercise our rights and responsibilities as Americans. This is how easy it is: Contact your government leaders and legislators in Congress, in your State, and in your local governments , right now in less than a minute and demand they 1) Protect the People, 2) Test the People and 3) Heal the People during this coronavirus pandemic. Click here
  3. Waging Love daily: Humans are social animals. We need each other. At a time of pandemic we may easily slip into fear, isolation, and blame. Instead let’s transform this destructive approach that worsens our problems (and empties shelves of toilet paper from local stores!).  Please reach out to your friends and families and send messages of love and hope. Share your optimism with others who may be afraid. Urge others to join you in action online. Spread love far and wide. Post this and tag me @drpaulzeitz so I can send you back a heart emoji! Every little action beats back the fear that threatens us all.

A movement of systemic change

I’ve dedicated my career to catalyzing large-scale movements. I launched Build a Movement 2020 with the idea of giving back power and control to “we the people,” as  our very existence at stake. It was not an accident that we launched with five pillars, three of which are at play today, right now, this instance to threaten our existence: climate restoration, restoring democracy and health for all. 

Our problems are inexorably linked. Today it’s a coronavirus, but it’s also the unprecedented warming of the Arctic and our broken democracy that has failed to protect and defend our lives and our survival.   We need to win the battle against the coronavirus, we need to ensure the survival of humanity by restoring the climate, and we need to establish authentic democracy here in America. 

We are living in a transformative moment in human history. You are a part of it. We are the solution. Together we can heal America. Can you join us? Simply text BAM2020 to 52886 and take a ten-second pledge to Waging Justice, Waging Optimism and Waging Love and ensure the survival of humanity. 

We can do this. We will. But it starts with a start. A text. A pledge. A commitment. An act. It starts now. It starts now-NOW!