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Judge Blocks Trump Plan to Cut Food Stamps for 700,000 Adults

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Food stamps recipients doing a big once-a-month shopping trip on the day their monthly SNAP account is re-funded. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Food stamps recipients doing a big once-a-month shopping trip on the day their monthly SNAP account is re-funded. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

A recent motion by the Trump administration was aimed at making it more challenging for certain demographics to receive government aid known as food stamps. In a 60 plus page document, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell of D.C. shot down their effort of what seemed to be a blatant disregard of how a move like this would significantly impact so many Americans during a time of the pandemic.

What We Know:

  • The ruling follows the Trump administration’s nearly yearlong effort to change and reduce the amount of people who rely on food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The proposal was originally made during a time when the U.S was in the middle of economic prosperity and record low unemployment rates before the events of this year. The new rules in the plan would have greatly limited access to the program.
  • As the story goes, the COVID-19 pandemic brought a once-booming economy to a grinding halt and placed millions of Americans into the unemployment line. Numbers continue to look grim as roughly 25 million adults are still without jobs and are currently claiming unemployment benefits. The unemployment rate as of September is sitting at nearly 7.9%, almost double of what it was in February.
  • In Judge Howell’s ruling, she stated that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the organization in charge of SNAP, had remained usually quiet on how many people would have been affected by the administration’s rule change as the pandemic continues to plague the nation. She cited that the number of people signing up for SNAP has risen 17%, about 6 million new recipients, since May.
  • The rule change has been called “a vivid illustration of this relentless ideology that’s not informed by the economic realities of people, whether they are in the pandemic or not in the pandemic,” by Stacy Dean vice president for food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “The judge called them out for trying to steamroll through policy with seemingly no effort to incorporate feedback” on concerns from states and other groups.
  • Howell also noted that the Trump administration had failed to give any reasons as to why the food stamp requirements needed to change. It targeted many “able-bodied adults without dependents,” meaning all adults ages 18 to 49 who don’t have children or family members with disabilities.
  • This demographic of adults are typically limited to three months of food stamps within a three-year period unless they acquire employment or happen to be enrolled in a worker training program, but most states are allowed to shelve those requirements.

Under the proposed rule, states would be required to prove that certain counties had unemployment rates of at least 6% in order to waive the restriction. This change is what prompted the Urban Institute to estimate that roughly 700,000 people would have been kicked off SNAP, although that number could be much greater now since the date of that last report.

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Javier Garay is a Media & News SVCS Intern at UnmutedCo. He graduated from the University of North Georgia with a Bachelors of Science (B.S) in Film/Digital Media with a concentration in Media Studies. He is a contributor and editor for Black News Alerts (BNA), a BNA and BossFM social media contributor, and is lead of the BNA Daily Podcast Team.

Coronavirus

Cuomo Wants New York to Buy Vaccine Directly from Pfizer

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The Governor of New York is seeking to buy the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer. The company itself is already saying they won’t do it.

What We Know:

  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the Trump Administration has failed to deliver enough COVID-19 vaccines to his state, so he wants to buy more doses directly from the manufacturer. Cuomo has asked Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla whether it would be possible to cut out the middle man. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded eligibility to more than 7 million New Yorkers from 5 million practically overnight, stated Cuomo said Monday in a letter to Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla. “No can do,” Pfizer replied.
  • The company said it’s open to collaborating with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in a way that will allow the drugmaker to distribute its vaccine to as many Americans as possible quickly. It will still need the okay from the government to do so, according to Bloomberg. Pfizer told CNBC that model would first have to be cleared under the emergency use authorization granted by the Food and Drug Administration for the drug’s use.
  • According to the most recent CDC figures, Trump had promised that 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by the end of 2020, but as of Monday, just 12.2 million had gotten their first dose. However, public health and chain supply experts said a shortage of vaccines isn’t the only reason it’s taking so long to get the shots into American arms.
  • The federal government has left the distribution details up to local governments, which were no match for the overwhelming demand. And federal guidelines meant to get the most vulnerable vaccinated first have reportedly resulted in thousands of doses going to waste.
  • New York has ramped up its vaccine administration over the past five weeks, from about 35,000 during the first week to 330,000 last week, the governor said. To date, more than 1 million doses have been administered. The state is in a footrace with the vaccination rate and the COVID-19 infection rate. The state’s positivity rate is down statewide, and the hospitalization rate is slowing. Still, new variants of the virus could bring another wave, Cuomo said.

The Government is urged to begin testing all international travelers immediately and to stop those coming from the U.K., South Africa, and Brazil, where variants have emerged.

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Coronavirus

France Imposes Earlier Curfew and Tightens Border Control

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France is preparing to tighten restrictions following an increase in coronavirus cases.

What We Know:

  • Last Thursday, France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that the country plans to strengthen border controls and bring forward its night curfew, from a previous 8 p.m. to now 6 p.m., in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus infections.

“We must do everything to prevent this variant from spreading and ensure that it does not become the dominant variant,” Castex said.

  • The new curfew will come into effect on Saturday, January 16th. Starting Monday, all people traveling to France from outside the European Union will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test and self-isolate for a week upon arrival. A new protocol for countries in the European Union will be worked on ahead of the European Summit approaching on Jan. 21st.
  • The Prime Minister assured that the uptick in cases would not require a complete shutdown of the country. However, if the epidemic worsens, the government will be swift to order a new shutdown. For now, the country is on track to administer more than 1 million COVID-19 shots by the end of the month.
  • According to U.S. News, France has the seventh-highest COVID-19 death toll in the world with nearly 70,000 deaths. The government is particularly worried by the more-transmissible coronavirus strain first detected in Britain, which now accounts for about 1% of new cases.

Like much of the rest of the world, the French government is trying its best to balance a surviving economy and a surviving population.

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Disneyland Will Serve As A ‘Super’ Covid-19 Vaccination Site

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Disneyland in Anaheim, California will become a mass Covid vaccine distribution site, according to Orange County officials.

What We Know:

  • Disneyland Resort will become the first of five “super point-of-dispensing” (super POD) locations whose large capacity makes it possible to inoculate thousands of people every day. The decision came as the state reported over 30,000 new cases and 264 deaths on Monday.
  • Orange County supervisor, Doug Chaffee, said in a statement that super POD sites will be “absolutely critical in stopping this deadly virus”. California Governor Gavin Newsom revealed other super POD locations across the state, including Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium, Cal Expo in Sacramento, and Petco Park in San Diego which should be opening to the public this week.
  • “We recognize that the current strategy is not going to get us to where we need to go as quickly as we all need to go,” Governor Newsom said. “That’s why we’re speeding up the administration not just for priority groups but opening up large sites to do so.” Newsom said the state’s goal was to vaccinate 1 million people by the weekend.
  • “Disneyland Resort is proud to help support Orange County and the City of Anaheim with the use of our property, and we are grateful for all of their efforts to combat COVID-19,” Dr. Pamela Hymel, Chief Medical Officer, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, told CBS News. “After a year in which so many in our community have faced unprecedented hardship and uncertainty, there is now reason for optimism with the administration of a vaccine.”
  • The park has been closed to the public since mid-March when the pandemic began, which contradicts its sister resort, Walt Disney World in Florida, which has been open since July, with a reduced number of guests.

California ranks 42nd out of 50 states in its vaccination rate per 100,000 residents, according to the Centers for Disease Control data.

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