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COVID-19: What about the most vulnerable?

The President of the United States has declared the spreading of COVID-19 a pandemic. How does this affect disenfranchised communities?

Per the CDC guidelines, people are isolating themselves to flatten the curve and minimize exposure to the virus. For some, social distancing and working from home have created newfound problems. It's difficult to get work done while managing children. Some employers have proven to be ill-equipped to manage employees remotely. Small businesses have shut-down entirely, eliminating the prospect of revenue from patrons.

What about the communities who are not only inconvenienced by COVID-19 but whose livelihood stands in the balance?

The Intersectional Analysis. COVID-19 has highlighted the unique positioning of communities experiencing multiple facets of disenfranchisement via job insecurity, job benefit instability, housing insecurity, health vulnerabilities, social isolation, and community support deprivation. During this time of crisis, we have the opportunity to choose humanity and compassion. The following illustrations may be helpful:

1. An international college student with limited finances being forced to vacate college campus, losing his housing, food, and part-time employment income for an indeterminate period of time.

2. A single mother, working in the food industry, without access to childcare, income, or social support because of social distancing. She has some reprieve from an eviction for April rent because of a local executive order, but is at risk of having her car repossessed. Her mom, who often helps her with the children, is unable to assist because she is elderly and immuno-compromised. If she loses her car, her ability to commute back and forth to work will be nearly impossible. The impact of COVID-19 could have long term impacts on her ability to provide for herself and her child.

3. A person who is incarcerated has had all visitation from his friends and family suspended until further notice. His vulnerability to COVID-19 remains constant because of overcrowding and a lack of emergency response procedures. Individuals in prison have significantly higher rates of immuno-compromised health conditions including HIV, Hepatitis, and others.

These short scenarios are not an exhaustive list. However, they illustrate how compounded identity nuances influences one's positioning in society. Importantly, that positioning demonstrates the inequitable distribution of power and privilege. While many primary elections have been postponed, including Georgia (now May 19), voters should remain vigilant by taking note of representatives' responses. Hold elected officials accountable with the power of your vote.

"How can we support one another virtually? Are there ways we can provide support to needy communities without technological access?"

Resources. Parents should view their school districts websites and monitor email communications for updates. Many schools have implemented meal service delivery or pick-up options. Tenants should know that the judicial emergency has paused most evictions for a period of 30 days. Landlords remain able to file dispossessory warrants; however, the hearing date will not be calendared until the judicial emergency has been lifted. If an eviction judgment (writ of possession) has already been entered against you, the judicial emergency does not prevent the sheriff's department from executing that writ. Contact your county clerk's office to confirm the specifics of any pending case. Edmonds Law Office remains open and accessible to clients via virtual consultations via video and phone. #COVID19 #askangie #civilrights #intersectionallawyering #virtualcommunity #isolation

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