Sunday, May 10, 2020

All in it Together?

As the COVID-19 crisis intensifies, tens of millions of American families are falling into hunger. For single mothers with children under the age of 12, an astonishing 40 percent are now reporting that they are running out of food without the financial ability to purchase more.  Adults are missing meals to keep children fed. But many children are, nevertheless, going hungry. 
Food banks now routinely report miles-long lines of cars, with drivers waiting for hours to receive bags of produce to tide their families over. The charity Feeding America estimates that the number of food-insecure Americans who will access its food bank network will increase from 37 million at the start of the pandemic to upwards of 54 million over a six-month period. Meanwhile, private donations to food banks are drying up, and the number of Americans volunteering in their local food banks is also declining — a not unsurprising situation given many volunteers are themselves elderly and medically vulnerable.
At the same time, huge amounts of farm produce are going to waste: Farmers are literally destroying crops, meat and dairy supplies that they have no buyers for because schools, restaurants, hotels and other big commercial purchasers are no longer buying produce.
Millions of workers – especially low-wage retail, food service, hospitality, and care workers – have faced the terrible choice daily between going to work and risking their health, or staying home and risking their paychecks. As tens of millions have lost their jobs over the past two months, billionaire wealth soared by a whopping $282 billion between March 18 and April 10, according to a new study from the Institute for Policy Studies. Billionaires have been escaping to their second (or third, or fourth) homes to ride it out in luxury – all while they position themselves to further profit off of this crisis.  Rather than retreating behind the gates of private estates, some of the ultra-wealthy have taken to the high seas to weather the crisis on luxury yachts far away from the misery on the mainland.

As many as 43 million Americans are expected to lose their health insurance due to the pandemic, according to a new report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Urban Institute. The pandemic "exposes a lot of the inadequacies in our system," RWJF senior policy analyst Katherine Hempstead told The Guardian, adding that healthcare is "tied to employment for no real reason."
Last month, the Economic Policy Institute estimated that 12.7 million people had already lost their employer-based health insurance. 

COVID-19 pandemic is not the “great equalizer” that some predicted.

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