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Families of coronavirus victims are organizing online to push politicians for more strict health measures

Angela Kender saw it just before bed, and right then made a plan to confront her state’s lawmakers with pictures of local virus victims, including her mother. An old friend sent it to Fiana Tulip. She was furious about her mom’s death; maybe she could channel her rage like Urquiza had. And Rosemary Rangel Gutierrez’s sisters told her about the obituary after their father died. She sounds like you, they said.

“This man is the most dangerous person on the planet,” Urquiza said this week after Trump told Americans on video not to be afraid of covid-19. “I’m counting down the minutes until his referendum comes on November 3rd and we can end this nightmare and protect ourselves and our families.”

The loose support group Urquiza formed has tightened into organized activism. They have pushed politicians, especially Republicans, to enact more serious public health measures. This week, across the country, they have led vigils, memorials and funeral processions to grieve the more than 213,000 lives lost in the United States. The national week of mourning is likely the largest collective recognition of the country’s coronavirus toll.

Powerful grass-roots groups often have started this way, even before the days of organizing through social media. They began with personal anguish, with individuals grieving their dead alone, trying to transform their anger into action, policy or change. It’s the story of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, of the Sandy Hook Promise and Never Again MSD, of Black Lives Matter and Mothers of the Movement.

Urquiza named her group Marked by Covid. She founded it in the days after her father died, with some of his last words to her reverberating. He said he felt betrayed by Arizona’s governor and Trump, politicians he once supported. Urquiza, 39 and a recent graduate of a master’s program in public policy, decided then she would be the voice of a constituency that grows larger by the day: Americans who have lost loved ones to the pandemic and who are fed up with their elected officials.

“I hope that my small actions can start a movement,” she said in July, less than two weeks after her dad died.

It’s too early to know how influential the group, or others like it, will become. Some of Urquiza’s fellow organizers joined her as a way to process loss, and it’s unclear how Marked by Covid will define itself when the pandemic ends. But part of Urquiza’s ambitious vision is to advocate for policies that address the racial and economic inequalities exacerbated by the virus.

Urquiza and Marked by Covid have attracted national attention and more than 50,000 followers across their social media accounts. More than 1,000 people have donated $30,000 to the group, Urquiza said, and they’re using the money to place more honest obituaries online and in newspapers.

The Joe Biden campaign has taken notice. Urquiza spoke at the Democratic National Convention in August, appears in anti-Trump ads and sat in the

Grieving families say Trump’s experience with COVID-19 doesn’t mirror reality

When Carol Ackerman’s dad was dying of COVID-19, he wasn’t getting attention from infectious disease specialists or treatment from expensive, experimental drugs. Instead, he got an orthopedic surgeon — a specialist in muscle, tendon, bone and ligament health — who was doing his best under difficult circumstances.



a couple of people posing for the camera: Carol Ackerman's father Stanley J. Teich, who passed away in April at 79, poses with two of his granddaughters.


© Carol Ackerman
Carol Ackerman’s father Stanley J. Teich, who passed away in April at 79, poses with two of his granddaughters.

“They had so many patients that it was all hands on deck,” Ackerman explained.

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But looking back on the options her dad had, and comparing that to the now daily updates about the care President Donald Trump has received following his coronavirus diagnosis, Ackerman said, “It’s just not fair.”

“And I think what truly would have made a difference is our government not downplaying this disease,” she added.

As Trump this week crows about his first-rate medical care — which included a rare experimental antibody treatment available to fewer than 10 people outside medical trials — and declares victory in the pandemic, many Americans hit by virus are struggling to share his optimism.

More than 211,000 people have died in the pandemic, and the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, this week predicted that the death toll could go as high as 300,000 to 400,000 if serious action isn’t taken soon.

Meanwhile, Trump has used his fight against the virus to minimize the tragedy, declaring his coronavirus diagnosis a “blessing in disguise” in a polished video from the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday.

MORE: ‘An embarrassment’: Trump tweet angers pandemic survivors

His message leaves families like Ackerman’s trying to square the president’s overly optimistic message with their own reality.

“With his power of being president comes privilege, and that’s the way it should be, despite what my political beliefs or somebody else’s might be,” Ackerman said. “But I think that everybody should get the same kind of attention.”

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Recently, Ackerman shared a photo of her 79-year old father on Twitter. Sick and pale in a hospital gown, an oxygen mask covering most of his face, he didn’t match the president’s rosy description of fighting the virus, nor did he look like himself: the full-time immigration attorney who used to personally drive his clients to their hearings in his old Cadillac.



a group of people posing for the camera: Carol Ackerman's father Stanley J. Teich, who passed away in April at 79, poses with two of his granddaughters.


© Carol Ackerman
Carol Ackerman’s father Stanley J. Teich, who passed away in April at 79, poses with two of his granddaughters.

“I’m sure that he’d be upset with me if he knew I shared that, but I wanted it to be real,” Ackerman said. “These are real people, these are everyday Americans that got sick through no fault of their own, and died.”

Across the country, families who have lost their loved ones to coronavirus over the past eight months echoed Ackerman’s sentiments, calling the fallout of Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis this past week at once triggering and bewildering.

“Don’t be

Families who endured COVID-19 don’t agree with Donald Trump’s sugar-coated experience

“They had so many patients that it was all hands on deck,” Ackerman explained.

“And I think what truly would have made a difference is our government not downplaying this disease,” she added.

As Trump this week crows about his first-rate medical care — which included a rare experimental antibody treatment available to fewer than 10 people outside medical trials — and declares victory in the pandemic, many Americans hit by virus are struggling to share his optimism.

More than 211,000 people have died in the pandemic, and the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, this week predicted that the death toll could go as high as 300,000 to 400,000 if serious action isn’t taken soon.

Meanwhile, Trump has used his fight against the virus to minimize the tragedy, declaring his coronavirus diagnosis a “blessing in disguise” in a polished video from the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday.

His message leaves families like Ackerman’s trying to square the president’s overly optimistic message with their own reality.

“With his power of being president comes privilege, and that’s the way it should be, despite what my political beliefs or somebody else’s might be,” Ackerman said. “But I think that everybody should get the same kind of attention.”

Recently, Ackerman shared a photo of her 79-year old father on Twitter. Sick and pale in a hospital gown, an oxygen mask covering most of his face, he didn’t match the president’s rosy description of fighting the virus, nor did he look like himself: the full-time immigration attorney who used to personally drive his clients to their hearings in his old Cadillac.

PHOTO: Carol Ackerman's father Stanley J. Teich, who passed away in April at 79, poses with two of his granddaughters.

Carol Ackerman’s father Stanley J. Teich, who passed away in April at 79, poses with two of his granddaughters.

Carol Ackerman’s father Stanley J. Teich, who passed away in April at 79, poses with two of his granddaughters.

“I’m sure that he’d be upset with me if he knew I shared that, but I wanted it to be real,” Ackerman said. “These are real people, these are everyday Americans that got sick through no fault of their own, and died.”

Across the country, families who have lost their loved ones to coronavirus over the past eight months echoed Ackerman’s sentiments, calling the fallout of Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis this past week at once triggering and bewildering.

“Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” the president tweeted just before opting to

” target=”_blank”>leave the hospital for the White House, where 20-30 medical professionals took over his

Work Or Online Learning? Homeless Families Face An Impossible Choice : NPR

Freda and her 9-year-old son visit the Purple People Bridge in Cincinnati. She and her five children have been living in the front room of a friend’s apartment, sleeping on pads of bunched-up comforters.

Maddie McGarvey for NPR


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Maddie McGarvey for NPR

Freda and her 9-year-old son visit the Purple People Bridge in Cincinnati. She and her five children have been living in the front room of a friend’s apartment, sleeping on pads of bunched-up comforters.

Maddie McGarvey for NPR

The closure of school buildings in response to the coronavirus has been disruptive and inconvenient for many families, but for those living in homeless shelters or hotel rooms — including roughly 1.5 million school-aged children — the shuttering of classrooms and cafeterias has been disastrous.

For Rachel, a 17-year-old sharing a hotel room in Cincinnati with her mother, the disaster has been academic. Her school gave her a laptop, but “hotel Wi-Fi is the worst,” she says. “Every three seconds [my teacher is] like, ‘Rachel, you’re glitching. Rachel, you’re not moving.'”

For Vanessa Shefer, the disaster has made her feel “defeated.” Since May, when the family home burned, she and her four children have stayed in a hotel, a campground and recently left rural New Hampshire to stay with extended family in St. Johnsbury, Vt. Her kids ask, “When are we going to have a home?” But Shefer says she can’t afford a “home” without a good-paying job, and she can’t get a job while her kids need help with school.

For this story, NPR spoke with students, parents, caregivers, shelter managers and school leaders across the country about what it means, in this moment, to be homeless and schoolless.

Vanessa Shefer (right) walks with her family along the Passumpsic River in St. Johnsbury, Vt.

Ian Thomas Janssen-Lonnquist for NPR


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Ian Thomas Janssen-Lonnquist for NPR

Vanessa Shefer (right) walks with her family along the Passumpsic River in St. Johnsbury, Vt.

Ian Thomas Janssen-Lonnquist for NPR

“How do you choose between working and … your child’s education?”

Remote learning can be difficult for children without an adult at home to supervise everything from logging on to the learning itself. The past six months have put all parents and caregivers in a bind, but many families who are homeless now find themselves in an impossible situation.

“How do you choose between working and providing for your family, and your child’s education? I mean, what is your priority?” says Patricia Rivera, a former Chicago Public Schools social worker and founder of Chicago HOPES For Kids, an afterschool program for homeless youth.

Rivera points out that many homeless shelters don’t allow parents to leave their children while they go to work. In the past, kids have simply gone to school or parents have found low-cost childcare. But, because of the pandemic, those options have disappeared for many families.

Parents and caregivers experiencing homelessness are also more likely to work low-wage jobs that cannot be done remotely

After Meat Workers Die of Covid-19, Families Fight for Compensation

After Saul Sanchez tested positive for the coronavirus at a hospital in Greeley, Colo., he spoke to his daughter on the phone and asked her to relay a message to his supervisors at work.

“Please call JBS and let them know I’m in the hospital,” his daughter Beatriz Rangel remembered him as saying. “Let them know I will be back.”

The meat-processing company JBS had employed Mr. Sanchez, 78, at its plant in Greeley for three decades. He was one of at least 291 people there who tested positive for the coronavirus, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

On April 7, Mr. Sanchez became one of at least six employees at the plant to die of Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. “My dad was a very hardworking, happy-go-lucky, selfless person,” Ms. Rangel said. “It’s a great loss.”

Now Ms. Rangel, 53, is in the middle of a new struggle. Hers is one of several families of JBS employees in Greeley seeking compensation for a death caused by Covid-19. The company has denied her family’s claim, as well as at least two others, according to lawyers representing the families who are now taking those claims to court.

Those denials, first reported by Reuters, offered a view of the difficulties faced by families of essential workers who have fallen ill or died because of the coronavirus, many of whom are struggling to cover medical or funeral costs.

“We just have a stack of bills, and I think it’s really taken a toll on my mom, because my dad used to be the one handling all the finances,” Ms. Rangel said.

Across the United States, more than 100 meat-processing plants operated by different companies, including Smithfield and Tyson, have had outbreaks of Covid-19, in part because of crowded working conditions. So far, more than 44,000 meatpacking workers have tested positive for the coronavirus, and more than 200 have died, according to the Food & Environment Report Network, which has been tracking the outbreak.

Workers’ compensation has traditionally been used to address on-the-job injuries — not fatalities tied to a pandemic that has disrupted millions of lives and killed more than 200,000 people in the United States. Tracing the exact origins of individual infections can be difficult, which appears to have given JBS an avenue to deny compensation claims on the grounds that the illnesses were not necessarily work related.

“It is my understanding that JBS was stating that the workers didn’t contract Covid at the plant,” said Kim Cordova, the president of the local chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers, a union that represents many JBS employees.

“I think that it’s just further proof that these companies put profit over people, and that they have treated these poor essential workers as disposable or sacrificial human beings for the sake of production or profit,” she added.

Nikki Richardson, a spokeswoman for JBS USA, said in an email that “the worker’s compensation claim denials were

Families of COVID-19 victims slam president’s downplaying of his diagnosis

Hours before he was released from a hospital stay for his coronavirus diagnosis Monday, President Trump tweeted his thoughts on the pandemic that’s killed over 210,000 Americans, saying, “Don’t be afraid.”



President Donald Trump boards Marine One to return to the White House after receiving treatments for COVID-19 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Oct. 5, 2020, in Bethesda, Md.


© Evan Vucci/AP
President Donald Trump boards Marine One to return to the White House after receiving treatments for COVID-19 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Oct. 5, 2020, in Bethesda, Md.

On Twitter, supporters of the president praised his strength and hailed his message, calling him “Our beloved President” and “BEST PRESIDENT EVER!”

But for scores of families who’ve lost loved ones to the disease, as well as first responders and other advocates, the response was far different. Many of them slammed the president’s cavalier sentiment and warned that it could make the situation worse.

Brian Walter, a New York City transit worker who lost his father to the virus, told ABC News in a statement that Trump’s advice to people not to fear the coronavirus “hurts.”

MORE: Trump returning to White House after saying he ‘learned’ about COVID-19 by having it

“It makes me worry for all the families who will still experience the loss of a loved one because our president refuses to take this pandemic seriously,” he said.



a close up of a green field: Empty chairs who represent a fraction of the more than 200,000 lives lost due to COVID-19, are seen during the National COVID-19 Remembrance, at The Ellipse outside the South side of the White House, Oct. 4, 2020, in Washington.


© Jose Luis Magana/AP
Empty chairs who represent a fraction of the more than 200,000 lives lost due to COVID-19, are seen during the National COVID-19 Remembrance, at The Ellipse outside the South side of the White House, Oct. 4, 2020, in Washington.

Walter is a member of the survivor network and advocacy group COVID Survivors for Change, which has been documenting the toll the pandemic has left on millions of Americans. On Sunday, the group installed 20,000 empty chairs on the lawn across from the White House to symbolize the nation’s COVID-19 deaths.

Chris Kocher, executive director of COVID Survivors for Change, said in a statement that he was taken aback by Trump’s tweet, given that he had the best health care and treatment in the world — a luxury that most coronavirus patients don’t have.

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Trump’s doctors told the press that he was given several medications including an antibody cocktail, remdesivir and steroids.

“For the long haulers living with symptoms of COVID-19 for months on end, this virus is terrifying. Trump doesn’t care, and he still doesn’t get what families are going through,” Kocher said in a statement.

Susan R. Bailey, the president of the American Medical Association, urged Americans to keep heeding warnings from doctors and health experts.

“We know vigilance is the best response to the COVID-19 pandemic because this virus doesn’t feed on fear; it feeds on complacency,” she said in a statement.

Liza Billings, a New York City nurse who lost her brother to the pandemic and is also member of COVID Survivors for Change, criticized Trump’s take

‘A slap in the face’: Families of COVID-19 victims slam president’s downplaying of his diagnosis

Advocates warn the president’s cavalier attitude could make the pandemic worse.

On Twitter, supporters of the president praised his strength and hailed his message, calling him “Our beloved President” and “BEST PRESIDENT EVER!”

But for scores of families who’ve lost loved ones to the disease, as well as first responders and other advocates, the response was far different. Many of them slammed the president’s cavalier sentiment and warned that it could make the situation worse.

Brian Walter, a New York City transit worker who lost his father to the virus, told ABC News in a statement that Trump’s advice to people not to fear the coronavirus “hurts.”

“It makes me worry for all the families who will still experience the loss of a loved one because our president refuses to take this pandemic seriously,” he said.

PHOTO: Empty chairs who represent a fraction of the more than 200,000 lives lost due to COVID-19, are seen during the National COVID-19 Remembrance, at The Ellipse outside the South side of the White House, Oct. 4, 2020, in Washington.

Empty chairs who represent a fraction of the more than 200,000 lives lost due to COVID-19, are seen during the National COVID-19 Remembrance, at The Ellipse outside the South side of the White House, Oct. 4, 2020, in Washington.

Empty chairs who represent a fraction of the more than 200,000 lives lost due to COVID-19, are seen during the National COVID-19 Remembrance, at The Ellipse outside the South side of the White House, Oct. 4, 2020, in Washington.

Walter is a member of the survivor network and advocacy group COVID Survivors for Change, which has been documenting the toll the pandemic has left on millions of Americans. On Sunday, the group installed 20,000 empty chairs on the lawn across from the White House to symbolize the nation’s COVID-19 deaths.

Chris Kocher, executive director of COVID Survivors for Change, said in a statement that he was taken aback by Trump’s tweet, given that he had the best health care and treatment in the world — a luxury that most coronavirus patients don’t have.

Trump’s doctors told the press that he was given several medications including an antibody cocktail, remdesivir and steroids.

“For the long haulers living with symptoms of COVID-19 for months on end, this virus is terrifying. Trump doesn’t care, and he still doesn’t get what families are going through,” Kocher said in a statement.

Susan R. Bailey, the president of the American Medical Association, urged Americans to keep heeding warnings from doctors and health experts.

“We know vigilance is the best response to the COVID-19 pandemic because this virus doesn’t feed on fear; it feeds on complacency,” she said in a statement.

Liza Billings, a New York City nurse who lost her brother to the pandemic and is also member of COVID Survivors for Change, criticized Trump’s take on the virus.

“I watched as medical teams fought like hell to save patients from COVID-19.

Border exemptions introduced for families, students and compassionate reasons; Ontario will ‘pause’ social bubbles

COVID-19 In Canada
COVID-19 In Canada

Canada introduces exemptions to border restrictions

Beginning on Oct. 8, certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and people who want to come to Canada for compassionate reasons, will be able to enter the country.

Family members who qualify include:

  • Individuals in an exclusive dating relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for at least one year, who have physically spent time with each other, and these individuals’ dependent children

  • Non-dependent children (adult children who do not meet the definition of a dependent child in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations)

  • Grandchildren, grandparents and siblings (including half and step siblings)

Pre-arrival approval is required, with more details on the application process set to be revealed next week, and each individual must be staying in Canada for more than 15 days.

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said individuals in an exclusive dating relationship must have been dating for a period of at least one year and are required submit a notarized declaration of their relationship status to relevant authorities.

Beginning on Oct. 20, international students who are studying at a designated learning institution, that has been approved by their provincial or territorial government as having a COVID-19 readiness plan, will also be able to enter Canada.

Mendicino stressed that travellers should not make any travel plans until they have received all the necessary pre-arrival authorizations.

Anyone coming into Canada needs to following all the public health measures in place, including the 14-day quarantine requirement.

Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, said foreign nationals coming into Canada on compassionate grounds can apply for a “limited release” from the mandatory quarantine.

She explained these “very specific” situations include being with someone you love to say goodbye at the end of their life, or a funeral or end of life ceremony. This exemption will be allowed in coordination with provincial or territorial government and must be approved before arrival.

Hajdu stressed that the COVID-19 cases in Canada, at this point, are largely related to community transmission, not travel.

Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, specified that only about two per cent of cases in Canada are related to travel.

“That isn’t an argument for reducing our efforts at the border and rather, in fact, it’s evidence of the efficacy of the work that we have done, effectiveness of both the public health response…and the efforts of our border service officers,” he said.

“The robust travel restrictions we’ve put into place to protect the health and safety of Canadians remains in effect,” Mendocino stressed. “The pandemic is an ongoing threat and we need to continue to be cautious and restrictive about who can enter into Canada.”

“We recognize, however, that these restrictions shouldn’t keep loved ones apart.”

Canada ‘scaling up’ federal public health presence at border

Blair confirmed Friday that the federal government is “dramatically scaling up” public health presence at the Canadian border to cover 36 points of entry, which

Most American Families Facing Financial Danger During Pandemic: Poll | Health News

By Robin Foster and E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporters

(HealthDay)

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) — More than 60% of households with children in the United States have struggled with serious financial problems during the coronavirus pandemic, a new poll shows.

Black and Hispanic households with children have borne the brunt of the hardships, which include struggles to afford medical care, depletion of household savings and difficulty paying debts, the poll found.

Conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the poll surveyed more than 3,400 adults, 1,000 of whom were living with children under the age of 18, between July 1 and Aug. 3.

Of the Hispanic households with children that responded, 86% reported these difficulties; in Black households, 66% reported them. In white households, the number hovers around 50%.

The stark racial differences were surprising, as they surfaced after federal and state governments invested heavily in programs for communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic, Robert Blendon, a director of the study behind the report and a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, told The New York Times.

“So much money was spent to put a cushion under households,” Blendon said. Still, “the numbers of people in trouble, that is the shock,” he added.

Experts worry that the financial fallout from the pandemic could be even worse than the poll depicts, as government measures to support households run out, Julie Morita, executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, told the Times.

“It’s a very large number of people who can’t pay the basics,” Blendon told the Times. “You have unbelievably vulnerable people over the next six months.”

But on Tuesday, there were also signs of hope that more government relief might be on the way: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows both said they’re hopeful they can reach agreement on a new economic stimulus bill, the Washington Post reported.

The new bill extends payroll support for the airline industry and includes new small business money, an additional round of $1,200 stimulus checks for individuals, an extension of expired $600 weekly unemployment benefits, around $500 billion for cities and states, support for schools and COVID-19 testing and tracing, and more. There is also money in the bill to support election security and the U.S. Postal Service, as well, the Post reported.

Globally, COVID death toll passes 1 million

The global coronavirus pandemic reached a grim new milestone on Tuesday: One million dead.

Americans made up more than 200,000 of those deaths, or one in every five, according to a running tally comprised by Johns Hopkins University.

“It’s not just a number. It’s human beings. It’s people we love,” Dr. Howard Markel, a professor of medical history at the University of Michigan, told the Associated Press. He’s an adviser to government officials on how best to handle the pandemic — and he lost his 84-year-old