Keep Up the Fight
Two months in, we’re starting to hit what experts are calling the “surge,” which is hopefully the peak of the cases we will see, with an eventual plateau and then decline. In other words, what we are doing is working. We are starting to reap the benefits of nearly two months of social distancing, shared sacrifice, and the heroic efforts of frontline workers.
Our support systems are starting to work a little better, too. This week, the state began allowing self-employed residents to apply for unemployment, which is a good step forward. More on that below. Today, Congress is voting on another round of disaster relief for the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides loans to small businesses but ran out of money faster than expected. I’m finishing this message on the flight down to vote for the bill. It’s wholly unacceptable that people can’t get help because of inaction in Washington, and today’s vote is just the first step of what’s needed next.
As we make progress against this virus, it will be tempting, especially as the weather gets warmer and the news gets a little bit better, to stand down and start relaxing social distancing. Let’s keep up the fight.
It’s vital that we listen to the science. I have heard from many of you in the last week who are angry at the protestors storming state capitals around the country demanding that their communities reopen. I hear you, especially since the president magnified this reckless behavior by tweeting over the weekend to encourage the protests.
But I take comfort in the fact that the nation is less divided than the few, loud, fringe conspiracy theorists might lead you to believe. The group that is taking to the streets and demanding that we ignore science and go back to life as normal represents just a small fraction—14 percent—of Americans who don’t support social distancing. We learned this week this sentiment has legs partially because it is the result of a disinformation campaign from our adversaries, and you better believe my team and I are working on ways to combat that.
I raise this with you to point out that last couple of months have shown us a lot about our country and the character of its people. We often hear about how divided we are, but in this crisis, Americans have caught a glimpse of the America I saw when I served in the Marines. Though we are diverse, we have far more in common than the few things that make us different, and we can come together for a common mission. We don’t have a perfect nation, but so many of us are willing to do our part to help build one.
I’m confident the spirit of our country is on display, not through the White House’s division and inaction, but through Americans everywhere shopping for each other, checking in on old friends, and staying inside to keep a stranger from getting sick. You see it at hospitals where health care workers are volunteering for different assignments to treat patients with the virus despite shortages of protective equipment. You see it at grocery stores where people still show up to work. And throughout the nation, where communities are supporting local businesses and restaurants. That gives me a lot of hope for our country and its future. And it’s proof we are better than our leaders would have us think.
At the same time, this crisis has shined a harsh light on how much work we have to do. You’re more likely to get coronavirus and to die from it in America if you’re a person of color. This virus has preyed upon the housing and healthcare inequities in the United States, not to mention all those of economics and education. These existed long before now. There is a lot more that we need to fix. I want to share this article with a provocative headline from The Atlantic because it makes some sharp observations for us to consider as we think about the kind of nation we want to build on the other side of this pandemic.
So, keep the faith. We don’t know how long this is going to last. But everyone is fighting this virus hard and, for the most part, we are standing together. We are starting to gain ground, and we have a lot of fight left in us.
Member of Congress
This week, Massachusetts announced schools and daycares are closed through the summer, except for daycare locations that serve health care workers and other essential employees.
To make your newly-established home school a little bit easier, I assembled educational resources in my Coronavirus Resource Guide. There you can find a daily lesson published by the New York Times, the Smithsonian’s distance learning resources, and NASA’s K-4 STEM activities.
You can also join me on Facebook Live next Monday, April 27th, at 5:30 pm to chat with Massachusetts 2020 Teacher of the Year Takeru “TK” Nagayoshi. TK is a 6th year educator at New Bedford High School and a leading voice on addressing education inequities. I hope our conversation can inspire the educator within you.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is now available through the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance.
PUA provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are unable to work because of a COVID-19-related reason but are not eligible for regular or extended unemployment benefits. Those who are self employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers, freelancers or otherwise newly eligible individuals can now apply for PUA here.
Eligible applicants should apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance retroactive to their first week of total or partial unemployment.
Stimulus Checks Update
Haven’t received your stimulus check yet? The IRS is still distributing payments to millions of Americans over the next few weeks. If you haven’t done so already, you can add your direct deposit information, or check the status of your stimulus check here: Get My Payment.
Head to the IRS economic payment information center for frequently asked questions.
This weekend, the IRS is performing maintenance on the website. Though they update the portal every 24 hours with new information, this is a new platform, and they’re still working out the issues. Check out the online portal Monday to get the most up-to-date information.
Avoid scams—only use the IRS government website. The IRS will never call you or send you an email about your stimulus check.