Pandemic
Relief Toolkit

Relief Demands

Color Of Change’s list of priorities for Congress to ensure Black people have access to adequate relief measures and resources in the next stimulus package.

Black Patient’s Guide

In partnership with Dr. Ruth Arumala, a comprehensive guide on the best practices and resources for combatting COVID-19 in the Black community.

Survey of Black and Latino Small Business Owners

In partnership with UnidosUs, survey reveals dire economic future, inaccessible and insufficient government relief funds.

Voter Justice Agenda

Black communities are an integral part of America as a whole, so what happens to us impacts all of society. These measures will help ensure a free, fair, and safe voting experience for Black voters, which is vital for protecting public health and the democratic process for the entire country.

Color Of Change COVID-19 Relief Priorities

Protect Black Businesses

PROVIDE IMMEDIATE + ACCESSIBLE HEALTH CARE​

Give Emergency Money to the People

Put Black People Over Profits

Choose Humanity Not Cages

Protect Black Essential Workers

Defend Our Democratic Process

Implement Debt Relief + Forgiveness

Provide housing + rental support

Protect Black users online

Implement Debt Relief + Forgiveness

Provide housing + rental support

Color Of Change COVID-19 Relief Priorities

A growing number of reports on how COVID-19 is impacting Black people illustrate the predictable results of past choices about policy. For decades, those policies exacerbated racial inequality in work, health, wealth, and education. And those policies are now enabling COVID-19 to harm Black people—and disrupt Black community life—at far greater rates than for anyone else. 

The impact is evident in high rates of infection and death among Black people, as well as in rates of loss among Black workers and business owners. The deep health and economic disparities 1 that existed before COVID-19 left Black people exposed, and the virus is deepening those disparities with each passing day. Worse, it has proven fertile ground for those who wish to employ hate speech and antidemocratic tactics of voter disenfranchisement. 

In response, Color Of Change has launched The Black Response, mobilizing our 1.7 million members to advocate for immediate and meaningful interventions to ensure Black people have access to adequate relief measures, and that resources to fight the virus’ impact are distributed equitably. 

As Congress takes up the next set of coronavirus stimulus packages, Color Of Change calls for relief that provides the following: 


IMMEDIATE ACCESSIBLE HEALTH CARE FOR CORONAVIRUS TREATMENT 

  • Guarantee that COVID-19 testing and care reaches Black communities. Testing and treatment must be universally accessible if we are going to beat the pandemic, and for it to be universal, many Black communities and other communities need care to be free. 
  • Analyze and respond to the disparate health impacts of COVID-19. It is essential that health departments collect and report racial data on COVID-19 testing, quality of care, and deaths with disaggregated racial data that is de-identified. This data will ensure that our needs are visible, and that the right level of resources are deployed to address them. We must ensure, however, that this data is not used to further exploit people. For example, this data should be barred from alternative use such as setting insurance rates or for law enforcement. 

INCREASED SUPPORT FOR BLACK-OWNED SMALL BUSINESSES 

  • Ensure that small business relief reaches Black-owned businesses. We urge Congress to adopt the following solutions to ensure that adequate funding reaches Black business owners: 
    Funding for small business grants, not loans, that will allow for Black-owned businesses to retain and rehire their workforce and reopen after the health

     

1 The Coronavirus Is Infecting and Killing Black Americans at an Alarmingly High Rate, Washington Post (April 7, 2020) (online at www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/04/07/coronavirus-is-infecting-killing-black-americans-an-alarmingly-high-rate-post-analysis-sh ows/?arc404=true); The Economic Impact of COVID-19 Will Hit Minorities The Hardest, Forbes (Mar. 17, 2020) (online at www.forbes.com/sites/korihale/2020/03/17/the-economic-impact-of-covid-19-will-hit-minorities-the-hardest/#1b34a46710c0). 

#TheBlackResponse 

  • crisis. This includes funds for direct payroll support, as well as covering all costs to maintain the business. 
  • Eliminate large banks as a bottleneck to necessary support. Racial inequities in the lending markets have caused a lack of capital in Black-owned businesses. Making sure that small businesses, especially Black owned businesses, can maintain payroll through direct transfers, rather than loans, will ensure these businesses can survive the crisis, get money into the hands of people more quickly, and relieve the strain on a patchwork of state unemployment systems. 
  • Mandate a Congressional oversight panel to ensure that small business funds are reaching Black-owned businesses.  
  • Create targeted support funds for Black businesses. Any additional funding for small business support should include a substantial dedicated fund for supporting minority-owned businesses. 


EMERGENCY ONGOING MONTHLY CASH ASSISTANCE 

  • Secure recurring monthly cash payments for those most vulnerable until the economy recovers. Even before COVID-19, current economic policies championed by corporate lobbyists and business practices that circumvent pre existing civil rights laws have resulted in 8% of the Black community earning wages below the poverty line, compared to just 4% of White workers. Employers shutting down or laying off workers in response 2 to the virus has exacerbated economic uncertainty in Black communities, It is, therefore, vital that stimulus packages include universal, unconditional recurring monthly cash payments through the remainder of this health crisis and resulting recession. 

CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY 

  • Pressure ventilator manufacturers to put lives above profit. Ventilator manufacturers must implement policies that allow for hospitals to repair and reuse ventilators to combat shortages as a result of the COVID-19 health pandemic. 
  • Protect individuals and families while securing strings-attached bailouts. Any governmental relief to corporate and financial institutions should be contingent upon and proportionate to direct relief they provide to borrowers, customers, and workers for the duration of the crisis, including collection, overdraft and penalty relief, job security, and governance makeup. 


TECH, PRIVACY, AND MEDIA JUSTICE 

  • Hold tech companies accountable for their outsized impact on society. The swell of incidents such as racist “Zoom bombings” has only underscored how lack of data security disproportionately affects the Black community. Robust enforcement from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and strong Congressional oversight is needed to ensure robust digital privacy protections and that platforms are held responsible for the proliferation of harmful disinformation. 
2 The Economic Impact of COVID-19 Will Hit Minorities The Hardest, Forbes (Mar. 17, 2020) (online at www.forbes.com/sites/korihale/2020/03/17/the-economic-impact-of-covid-19-will-hit-minorities-the-hardest/#1b34a46710c0). 

#TheBlackResponse 

  • Stop “health surveillance systems” that disrupt privacy rights under false pretenses of COVID-19 prevention. The Trump Administration and companies like Apple and Google are reportedly developing surveillance tools to monitor and track individuals who have been in contact with the Coronavirus or are seeking testing and treatment. This raises serious privacy concerns; the effects of this surveillance will go far beyond this pandemic, Law enforcement already disproportionately surveils and polices the Black community, who will be further harmed by this privacy power grab. 


ENSURE ADEQUATE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS FOR INCARCERATED INDIVIDUALS 

  • Take action to reduce the number of incarcerated people. Jails, prisons and detention centers are woefully ill-equipped for health emergencies, particularly highly contagious diseases such as COVID-19. To keep individuals safe and healthy, Congress should immediately act to release incarcerated people in federal facilities and provide resources to states and localities to support decarceration. Additionally, policies must provide transition and re-entry support services to individuals released from places of incarceration. 
  • Expand access to soap, hand sanitizers, adequate health care and supplies in places of incarceration. 

WORKER JUSTICE 

  • Increase worker pay and safety protection for those working in essential industries. Black workers are disproportionately deemed “essential” and working on the front lines of this pandemic. Despite the recognition of the critical role these workers play in keeping others safe from exposure to COVID-19, they are woefully underpaid and lack basic supplies like masks and hand sanitizers, to work safely. Lawmakers must demand that companies like Uber, Instacart, Amazon, and others that employ front-line workers, immediately implement strong safety protocols and increase wages. 

VOTING RIGHTS 

  • Allocate additional funds and resources for election support and vote by mail. The April 7 Wisconsin primary election was an ugly preview of how the pandemic may be used to force Black voters’ choice between their right to vote and their health. To illustrate, the Black community in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is facing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic, accounting for almost 70% of the dead while making up only 26% of the population.
  • The next stimulus measure must defend our democractic process by protecting the U.S. Postal Service and funding a robust vote-by-mail including covering the cost of postage. 

DEBT RELIEF AND CREDIT PROTECTION 

  • Implement meaningful debt relief and forgiveness. Almost 85% of African Americans have student loan debt, compared to 69% of white Americans. At a time when many are
3 The Coronavirus Is Infecting and Killing Black Americans at an Alarmingly High Rate, Washington Post (April 7, 2020) (online at www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/04/07/coronavirus-is-infecting-killing-black-americans-an-alarmingly-high-rate-post-analysis-sh ows/?arc404=true). 4 Student Loan Debt Weighs Heavier On Black Borrowers, Fed Says, CBS News (Nov. 15, 2019) (online at www.cbsnews.com/news/the-federal-reserve-bank-black-college-students-are-carrying-more-loan-debt/). 

#TheBlackResponse 

struggling to pay their bills, lawmakers must implement a debt reprieve by cancelling student loans with forgiveness provisions for other acquired household debt. 

  • Suspend all debt collection activities and referrals to debt buyers. Creditors should make broad allowances for consumers, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations who cannot make payments in a timely fashion due to the COVID-19 crisis. 
  • Freeze derogatory credit reporting. Lawmakers should enact a freeze on derogatory credit reporting so that the pressure of the economic downturn does not create a lasting legacy of further denying Black people access to affordable credit. 

HOUSING AND RENTAL SUPPORT 

  • Secure additional funding for rental support and rent moratoriums. Lawmakers must take action to provide adequate funds for housing and national rent moratoriums during the COVID-19 crisis. 
  • Foreclosure moratoriums and mortgage protection. While the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) have suspended foreclosures for at least 60 days for government-backed mortgages, many mortgages do not fall within these categories. It is necessary to protect all at-risk mortgages to prevent equity losses to avoid perpetuating a greater Black wealth gap. 

#TheBlackResponse 

Black patients’ guide to COVID-19

By Dr. Ruth Arumala, in partnership with Color of Change

On constant loops on every news outlet and social media feed is the looming risk of contracting the novel “Coronavirus” and the developing life-threatening COVID-19 disease. With no available vaccination and only experimental disease-fighting drugs available, the highly contagious virus has produced an unprecedented worldwide pandemic. 

Unfortunately, in the United States there are recent reports from various metropolitan areas such as New Orleans and Chicago that the virus disproportionately results in severe disease and mortality in Black people. In order to adequately combat this disparity, Black Americans must be armed with accurate knowledge about the viral illness and ways to navigate the current healthcare environment.

Myths vs. Facts
Myth: The Coronavirus does not affect Black People.
Fact: False. The Coronavirus is impacting Black Americans at higher rates and resulting in more severe disease. In Louisiana for example, Black Americans make up 32% of the population, yet comprise 70% of Coronavirus deaths. In Chicago, Black people are dying at six times the rate that of white people. Similar disparities are occurring all over the country.

Myth: The Coronavirus only affects older, sick individuals.

Fact: False. There have been reports of infants as young as four months old with severe symptoms of COVID-19. And one of the most heartbreaking U.S. deaths occurred when five year old, Skylar Herbert passed away in Detroit. 


Myth: If I wear a mask, I do not have to practice social distancing.
Fact: False. In order to adequately protect yourself and others from the Coronavirus, you should continue to practice social distancing, while also adhering to the new CDC recommendations to wear masks that cover your mouth and nose.

Best Practices when you suspect you or your loved one has Covid-19:

The known symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, chills, muscle aches, difficulty breathing, loss of taste and/or smell, nausea, vomiting, and a change in bowel movements–particularly diarrhea. Although these can also be symptoms of the common cold, influenza infection or seasonal allergies, we need to proceed with caution during the peak or near peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

If you are experiencing these symptoms:

  • Call your health provider. 
  • Be very specific about your symptoms. 
  • If there are any known contacts that have tested positive for the Coronavirus, immediately disclose that information to your provider.
  • Include any underlying health conditions and what you do for a living–especially if you are public-facing, an essential worker, or have not been able to “shelter in place.”
  • If you are experiencing persistent fevers and sustained shortness of breath, please present to the nearest emergency department. This indicates severe disease.

     

If you are sent to an emergency room or urgent care, be sure to include the following inquires about your care

 

  • Specifically ask to be tested for COVID-19 and indicate any underlying health conditions.
  • If you are given an alternative diagnosis, ask if you should self-quarantine, as well as the specific amount of time you should remain in self-quarantine 
  • Ask your provider if you should replace personal hygiene items like toothbrushes or pillow cases.
  • Ask your ER provider if a chest X-Ray is indicated
  • Set a follow-up appointment with your provider with a specific date which can be done via telemedicine. As a general rule, everyone seen in the hospital should follow up with a provider in 7-14 days.
  • Do not leave the emergency room without having all of your questions answered and having a good sense of the severity of your symptoms.

If you feel that your symptoms are not being taken seriously:

  • Be persistent. Reiterate your symptoms and any underlying health conditions in a calm manner.
  • Share your fear, anxiety and mental anguish about contracting the virus and developing the disease.
  • Ask for denial of a test to be noted in your chart. 
  • Ask the provider if they have access to tests. If they do not, ask for the closest testing location.


Although the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic can produce significant anxiety and trepidation, there are ways to successfully prevent and navigate this disease. Please do your part to stay at home, wash your hands frequently, clean hard surfaces several times per day, wear face coverings when in public, and maintain social distancing (> 6 feet from others) when in public.

Dr. Ruth Arumala, DO, MPH, NCMP, is a Texas-based physician who practices a patient-centered approach to care which seeks to not only provide excellent medical care but to empower her patients to make healthier choices that enable them to live a happier, more fulfilling life.  Dr. Arumala has won several awards that demonstrate her exceptional clinical skills and service to her community. These include 2020 National Minority Quality Forum’s 40 Under 40 Leaders in Minority Health, 2020 Fort Worth Magazine “Top Docs” Tarrant County, OB-Gyn, 2020 Texas Super Doctors Rising Stars, and 2020 Women in Medicine’s “Top OB-Gyn” Fort Worth. You can follow her on Instagram at @i.am.dr.arumala and listen to her podcast “Pretty + Pink Podcast: A Modern Woman’s Guide to Health” anywhere podcasts are streamed.

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INCREASED SUPPORT FOR BLACK-OWNED SMALL BUSINESSES

Ensure that small business relief reaches Black-owned businesses. We urge Congress to adopt the following solutions to ensure that adequate funding reaches Black business owners: 
Funding for small business grants, not loans, that will allow for Black-owned businesses to retain and rehire their workforce and reopen after the health

The Coronavirus Is Infecting and Killing Black Americans at an Alarmingly High Rate, Washington Post (April 7, 2020) (online at www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/04/07/coronavirus-is-infecting-killing-black-americans-an-alarmingly-high-rate-post-analysis-sh ows/?arc404=true); The Economic Impact of COVID-19 Will Hit Minorities The Hardest, Forbes (Mar. 17, 2020) (online at www.forbes.com/sites/korihale/2020/03/17/the-economic-impact-of-covid-19-will-hit-minorities-the-hardest/#1b34a46710c0). 

Crisis. This includes funds for direct payroll support, as well as covering all costs to maintain the business. 

Eliminate large banks as a bottleneck to necessary support. Racial inequities in the lending markets have caused a lack of capital in Black-owned businesses. Making sure that small businesses, especially Black owned businesses, can maintain payroll through direct transfers, rather than loans, will ensure these businesses can survive the crisis, get money into the hands of people more quickly, and relieve the strain on a patchwork of state unemployment systems. 

Mandate a Congressional oversight panel to ensure that small business funds are reaching Black-owned businesses.  

Create targeted support funds for Black businesses. Any additional funding for small business support should include a substantial dedicated fund for supporting minority-owned businesses. 

IMMEDIATE ACCESSIBLE HEALTH CARE FOR CORONAVIRUS TREATMENT

Guarantee that COVID-19 testing and care reaches Black communities. Testing and treatment must be universally accessible if we are going to beat the pandemic, and for it to be universal, many Black communities and other communities need care to be free.

Analyze and respond to the disparate health impacts of COVID-19. It is essential that health departments collect and report racial data on COVID-19 testing, quality of care, and deaths with disaggregated racial data that is de-identified. This data will ensure that our needs are visible, and that the right level of resources are deployed to address them. We must ensure, however, that this data is not used to further exploit people. For example, this data should be barred from alternative use such as setting insurance rates or for law enforcement.

EMERGENCY ONGOING MONTHLY CASH ASSISTANCE

Secure recurring monthly cash payments for those most vulnerable until the economy recovers. Even before COVID-19, current economic policies championed by corporate lobbyists and business practices that circumvent pre existing civil rights laws have resulted in 8% of the Black community earning wages below the poverty line, compared to just 4% of White workers. Employers shutting down or laying off workers in response 2 to the virus has exacerbated economic uncertainty in Black communities, It is, therefore, vital that stimulus packages include universal, unconditional recurring monthly cash payments through the remainder of this health crisis and resulting recession. 

CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY

Pressure ventilator manufacturers to put lives above profit. Ventilator manufacturers must implement policies that allow for hospitals to repair and reuse ventilators to combat shortages as a result of the COVID-19 health pandemic. 

Protect individuals and families while securing strings-attached bailouts. Any governmental relief to corporate and financial institutions should be contingent upon and proportionate to direct relief they provide to borrowers, customers, and workers for the duration of the crisis, including collection, overdraft and penalty relief, job security, and governance makeup. 

ENSURE ADEQUATE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS FOR INCARCERATED INDIVIDUALS

Take action to reduce the number of incarcerated people. Jails, prisons and detention centers are woefully ill-equipped for health emergencies, particularly highly contagious diseases such as COVID-19. To keep individuals safe and healthy, Congress should immediately act to release incarcerated people in federal facilities and provide resources to states and localities to support decarceration. Additionally, policies must provide transition and re-entry support services to individuals released from places of incarceration. 

Expand access to soap, hand sanitizers, adequate health care and supplies in places of incarceration. 

WORKER JUSTICE

Increase worker pay and safety protection for those working in essential industries. Black workers are disproportionately deemed “essential” and working on the front lines of this pandemic. Despite the recognition of the critical role these workers play in keeping others safe from exposure to COVID-19, they are woefully underpaid and lack basic supplies like masks and hand sanitizers, to work safely. Lawmakers must demand that companies like Uber, Instacart, Amazon, and others that employ front-line workers, immediately implement strong safety protocols and increase wages. 

VOTING RIGHTS

Allocate additional funds and resources for election support and vote by mail. The April 7 Wisconsin primary election was an ugly preview of how the pandemic may be used to force Black voters’ choice between their right to vote and their health. To illustrate, the Black community in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is facing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic, accounting for almost 70% of the dead while making up only 26% of the population. 3

The Coronavirus Is Infecting and Killing Black Americans at an Alarmingly High Rate, Washington Post (April 7, 2020) (online at www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/04/07/coronavirus-is-infecting-killing-black-americans-an-alarmingly-high-rate-post-analysis-sh ows/?arc404=true).

The next stimulus measure must defend our democractic process by protecting the U.S. Postal Service and funding a robust vote-by-mail including covering the cost of postage. 

DEBT RELIEF AND CREDIT PROTECTION

Implement meaningful debt relief and forgiveness. Almost 85% of African Americans have student loan debt, compared to 69% of white Americans. At a time when many are struggling to pay their bills, lawmakers must implement a debt reprieve by cancelling student loans with forgiveness provisions for other acquired household debt. 4 

Student Loan Debt Weighs Heavier On Black Borrowers, Fed Says, CBS News (Nov. 15, 2019) (online at www.cbsnews.com/news/the-federal-reserve-bank-black-college-students-are-carrying-more-loan-debt/). 

Suspend all debt collection activities and referrals to debt buyers. Creditors should make broad allowances for consumers, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations who cannot make payments in a timely fashion due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Freeze derogatory credit reporting. Lawmakers should enact a freeze on derogatory credit reporting so that the pressure of the economic downturn does not create a lasting legacy of further denying Black people access to affordable credit. 

HOUSING AND RENTAL SUPPORT

Secure additional funding for rental support and rent moratoriums. Lawmakers must take action to provide adequate funds for housing and national rent moratoriums during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Foreclosure moratoriums and mortgage protection. While the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) have suspended foreclosures for at least 60 days for government-backed mortgages, many mortgages do not fall within these categories. It is necessary to protect all at-risk mortgages to prevent equity losses to avoid perpetuating a greater Black wealth gap. 

TECH, PRIVACY, AND MEDIA JUSTICE

Hold tech companies accountable for their outsized impact on society. The swell of incidents such as racist “Zoom bombings” has only underscored how lack of data security disproportionately affects the Black community. Robust enforcement from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and strong Congressional oversight is needed to ensure robust digital privacy protections and that platforms are held responsible for the proliferation of harmful disinformation. 

The Economic Impact of COVID-19 Will Hit Minorities The Hardest, Forbes (Mar. 17, 2020) (online at www.forbes.com/sites/korihale/2020/03/17/the-economic-impact-of-covid-19-will-hit-minorities-the-hardest/#1b34a46710c0). 

Stop “health surveillance systems” that disrupt privacy rights under false pretenses of COVID-19 prevention. The Trump Administration and companies like Apple and Google are reportedly developing surveillance tools to monitor and track individuals who have been in contact with the Coronavirus or are seeking testing and treatment. This raises serious privacy concerns; the effects of this surveillance will go far beyond this pandemic, Law enforcement already disproportionately surveils and polices the Black community, who will be further harmed by this privacy power grab. 

Step 2: Select your Official