Showing: 1 - 3 of 3 RESULTS

Coronavirus struck Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. Will Latinos strike back with their votes?

Slowly, the strength that drained from Irene Morales’ body in her summer battle with Covid-19 is returning. What she won’t get back are her brother, her sister, her father and her aunt, all taken as the coronavirus has swept through Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.

The erasure of Morales’ family and Covid-19’s ruthlessness also wiped away her indecision about the presidential candidates. Her vote will pay respect to her family; she’ll be voting for Joe Biden, she said.

Speaking of President Donald Trump, Morales, 75, of Rio Grande City in Starr County, said: “It’s a little disappointing when I hear him say: ‘Don’t be afraid of Covid. Nothing has happened.’ Well, thank God. How lucky for him that he didn’t suffer. … Why have so many other people died? This the true Covid.”

Texas opened early voting Tuesday. Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs announced 16.9 million people had registered to vote—up 1.8 million from 2016, as of the latest numbers. In the four Rio Grande Valley counties — Hidalgo, Cameron, Starr and Willacy —registrations are up at least a combined 76,770.

But the numbers looming large in this part of the state are those that tell the story of the toll of the coronavirus.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

The four core counties of the Lower Rio Grande Valley had logged nearly 70,000 coronavirus cases by Monday; nearly 3,000 people had died. Nearby Webb County, home to Laredo, and Zapata County, both on the border, added more than 14,700 more cases and 303 more deaths.

“There is not one person in Hidalgo County that hasn’t been affected by this horrible virus,” Hidalgo County Democratic chair Norma Ramirez said. That includes her. The virus killed Sergio Muñoz Sr., a former state legislator who was the county party’s vice chair, in July.

IMAGE: Irene Morales (Courtesy Irene Morales)
IMAGE: Irene Morales (Courtesy Irene Morales)

For Democrats to tip the election in Texas — the last Democratic presidential nominee to win the state was Jimmy Carter in 1976 — they’ll need improved turnout and more voters from the state’s almost all-Latino lower Rio Grande Valley and parts of South Texas. The counties are Democratic strongholds.

Community groups working to register and turn out voters, mostly through phone calls and texts, but also with some door-to-door work, say the virus’ devastation has become a motivator. They said Latinos are recognizing not only that their community has been devastated by the disease, but also that the years of inequities they have put up with worsened the impact of the coronavirus in the region.

Unemployment numbers here rose to levels not recorded since before 2000. Vehicle and foot traffic on the international bridges — the area’s economic engine — has been curtailed, hitting the border cities’ retail sectors that profit from Mexican shoppers.

The area already is far poorer than other parts of the state. It contends with high prevalences of diabetes and obesity, and about 30 percent of adults in three of the counties don’t have health insurance.

Whitmer’s Emergency Orders Have Been Struck Down. Now What?

MICHIGAN — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers were struck down Friday by the Michigan Supreme Court, which ruled that a 1945 law she was citing was unconstitutional.

So, now what? As it turns out, several other entities have taken safety measures amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic into their own hands and some restrictions will remain in place.

Don’t miss important updates from health and government officials on the impact of the coronavirus in Michigan. Sign up for Patch’s daily newsletters and email alerts.

A 21-Day Battle

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday, which Whitmer has called a matter of partisan politics, has raised several legal questions Whitmer’s office said it is still reviewing.

Many of the questions concern when the previously issued executive orders will be voided. Whitmer’s office previously said they would not take effect until 21 days from the court’s ruling, citing Michigan Supreme Court law.

“When it comes to fighting COVID-19, we are all in this together,” Whitmer’s office said in a statement. “While we are moving swiftly, this transition will take time. As the governor said last week, many of the responsive measures she has put in place to control the spread of the virus will continue under alternative sources of authority that were not at issue in the court’s ruling. We will have more to say on this in the coming days. Make no mistake, Governor Whitmer will continue using every tool at her disposal to keep Michigan families, frontline workers, and small businesses safe from this deadly virus.”

Counties Coming Up With Plans

A day after the Michigan Supreme Court made its ruling to remove some of Whitmer’s executive powers, Oakland County was among Michigan communities to step up and implement their own orders.

Oakland County Health Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford on Saturday issued local health order 2020-12, requiring that people wear masks or facial coverings when outside their home in Oakland County.

Stafford said additional health orders may be issued in the coming days to cover capacity at restaurants, bars, employee health screenings and other public health concerns.

“Health and science experts agree that facial coverings are critical to controlling the virus,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said. “We have come too far to backslide now especially as we want to get kids back to school and our economy moving again. In Oakland County masks will continue to be mandatory by order of our health experts. I am confident that our residents and businesses will continue to keep each other safe and protected.”

The order covers residents who are in any public space outside their home, includes K-12 schools and when outside and social distancing isn’t possible. Children other 5 and people who cannot medically tolerate facial coverings are among exceptions.

“Oakland County was hit hard by the COVID-19 and the virus is still in our communities,” Stafford said. “The law provides the tools for a local health officer to protect the public’s health during an epidemic and that is my

Even before pandemic struck, more US adults were uninsured

Updated


WASHINGTON (AP) — About 2.5 million more working-age Americans were uninsured last year, even before the coronavirus pandemic struck, according to a government report issued Wednesday.

The study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 14.5% of adults ages 18 to 64 were uninsured in 2019, a statistically significant increase from 2018, when 13.3% lacked coverage.


The increase in the uninsured rate came even as the economy was chugging along in an extended period of low unemployment. The findings suggest that even during good times, the U.S. was losing ground on coverage gains from the Obama-era health care overhaul.

Health insurance coverage has eroded under President Donald Trump, who is still trying to overturn the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.” By contrast, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wants to expand the ACA and add a new public plan in a push to eventually cover all Americans.



The new numbers come from the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey, which is considered one of the government’s most authoritative reports. Lack of affordable coverage was the top reason given for being uninsured, cited by nearly 3 out of 4 surveyed.


In 2018, 26.3 million adults ages 18 to 64 were uninsured. Last year, that number rose to 28.8 million, CDC said.

The situation has only worsened since COVID-19 began to spread in the U.S. early this year, forcing a sudden economic shutdown that left millions out of work. How much worse is not yet known, because government surveys like the CDC’s have a significant lag time.


Initial estimates from private experts that suggested more than 25 million people could have become uninsured due to pandemic job losses appear to have been too high.

More recent estimates suggest there are 5 million to 10 million newly uninsured. In