October 14 COVID-19 Policy & Black Communities Roundup

Due to the holiday weekend, the Joint Center is releasing an abbreviated roundup on COVID-19 and Black communities. We will resume our more robust roundup next week.

Senate Republicans Reject $1.8 Trillion White House Stimulus Proposal

Last week, the White House’s $1.8 trillion COVID-19 stimulus proposal was rejected by Senate Republicans, continuing the months-long stalemate over a new round of coronavirus relief funding. The GOP objected to the price tag, which is greater than the $1.1 trillion proposed by Republicans in July, but less than the $2.2 trillion package passed most recently by House Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also expressed dissatisfaction with the White House’s proposal, describing it as “one step forward, two steps back” in a letter to her fellow Democrats. The lack of progress underscores the position of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that passage of a coronavirus stimulus package prior to the November elections is increasingly doubtful.

The latest White House coronavirus relief proposal is a reversal of President Trump’s call to end all negotiations with Democrats, and yesterday the President tweeted “STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!” Congressional Republicans do not seem to be following the President’s call for a larger stimulus. Speaker Pelosi responded that “A fly on the wall or wherever else it might land in the Oval Office tells me that the President only wants his name on a check to go out before Election Day and for the market to go up.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell cited additional stimulus as critical to sustaining the economic recovery during the pandemic and to prevent a regression back into economic recessionThree-quarters of U.S. voters want Congress to pass coronavirus relief.

SBA Releases Streamlined Application Process for PPP Forgiveness

In an effort to help small businesses affected by the global pandemic, in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department the U.S. Small Business Administration released a streamlined application and process for the forgiveness of Payroll Protection Program loans up to $50,000.

President Trump’s first major appearance since contracting the coronavirus was before an audience of Black supporters including a Republican-led group called “BLEXIT,” and was viewed by House Majority Whip James Clyburn an

 Trump Brings Black and Latino Supporters to COVID-19 “Hot Zone”

d health experts as irresponsible. Brigham and Women’s Hospital emergency physician Dr. Jeremy Faust told CNN “[t]o literally draw (Black and Latino activists) into the White House, to a hot zone, is extraordinarily inept in terms of public policy and public health.” The White House event took place in the wake of Trump’s early release from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which was widely questioned by infectious disease experts. In a memo on Monday, White House physician Sean Conley stated that President Donald Trump tested negative for COVID-19 on “consecutive days” and is “not infectious to others.” New cases of coronavirus among at least 20 Members of Congress has sparked a demand for a more comprehensive program of testing and contact tracing on Capitol Hill. Republican legislators are divided on the need for testing, despite many having worked in close proximity with legislative colleagues who have been infected.

After the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates switched a second presidential debate between President Trump and Democratic candidate Vice President Joe Biden, set for October 15, from in-person to a virtual format, President Trump refused to participate. The Commission said it made the change in an effort to “protect the health and safety of all involved.”

Movement Building

Black Futures Lab teams up with HIT Strategies to conduct a national survey of Black voters and uplift their opinions on the upcoming election, protests, and policing.

Black Voters Matter’s BVM caravan travels to Jacksonville, Florida with mail-in ballots applications, census forms, food, and entertainment.

Black to the Future Action Fund calls for volunteers to join their Mobile Mobilization Squad, a team of text bankers who will use text messages to engage, educate, and provide resources for Black voters until Election Day.

Color of Change issues a petition urging companies to provide paid time off for their employees to vote and participate in the election.

Strategic Concepts in Organizing & Policy Education (SCOPE) delivers round 2 of their Senior Care packages.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and several other organizations wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray urging voter protection from the threat of violence from white supremacists during and after the election.

The Urban Institute releases a new initiative called WorkRise, a research-to-action network “aimed at identifying, testing, and sharing bold ideas for transforming the labor market so it better provides economic mobility for workers with low incomes, especially Black and other people of color, women, and young people.”

The Congressional Black Caucus sent a follow up letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin demanding that incarcerated individuals receive economic impact payments (EIPs) from the CARES Act within two weeks.


Upcoming events include “Why denouncing white supremacy creates safety, security, and racial equity” (Brookings Institution, October 14);  “A 360° Perspective on What Workers Need to Thrive” (WorkRise, October 16); “Amid multiple crises, a divided nation” (Brookings Institution, October 19);  “Worker Absenteeism and Food Supply Disruptions” (REMI, October 21); “You Are Enough: Developing Confidence to Homeschool Without Fear” (Black Family Homeschool Educators and Scholars, October 23).

Last week, events were held by Brennan Center for Justice, Center for American Progress, Economic Policy Institute, Knight Foundation, National Homelessness Law Center, National Urban League, Right To The City Alliance, State Voices, The Subcommittee on Elections of the Committee on House Administration, The Hamilton Project, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and The Movement for Black Lives.


Better Supporting Working Families with Kids in the Time of COVID (Urban Institute)

The Politics of Pandemic Relief (The New York Times)


The Joint Center thanks the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Boulé Foundation, the Democracy Fund, Toyota Motor North America, Inc., UPS, and the Walmart Foundation for additional support that has allowed us to do some of our COVID-19 and Black Communities work.