Survey: COVID-19 Brings U.S. Communities Together Friday, Apr 3 2020 


A majority of Americans believe that while their communities will suffer in the short term from the COVID-19 pandemic, they will eventually recover.

And nearly one in 5 people feels their communities will emerge stronger than ever.

That’s according to a new Public Agenda/USA Today/Ipsos Hidden Common Ground survey — conducted last weekend and released today.

Courtesy of Nova Powell

Nova Powell lives in Pettibone, Texas.

The evidence is in Nova Powell’s tiny Texas town of Pettibone, which he describes as “an intersection, with a curve in the road, and about five houses altogether.”

Powell, 77, says he’s an ardent Democrat and has not been pleased with the federal government’s handling of the pandemic. But he’s been encouraged lately by small acts of kindness.

Powell’s wife Deb has asthma and relies on a breathing device that uses distilled water. When the local grocery store ran out, store employees went out of their way to find a few gallons just for him.

“That’s the kinda people that are here,” Powell says. “And their politics are very far removed from mine.”

Courtesy of Trina Decembly

Trina Decembly lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

Nearly half of all Americans surveyed, including 56-year-old Trina Decembly in Cleveland, Ohio, say they’ve been reaching out to check on neighbors who might be vulnerable.

“I think all communities are going to be stronger because of this, because people are watching for other people, especially the elderly,” Decembly says.

More than two-thirds say they’re contacting family and friends more than usual and rallying to support local businesses. And more than half of Americans say they plan to donate money, supplies or time to help people in their community.

The survey also found widespread agreement that the U.S. should not be too quick to return to normal life. Some 90% of Democrats and 81% of Republicans say the nation should go slow in rebooting the economy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.

Americans agree the economy should be rebooted slowly to save lives
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There is, however, a partisan split over whether the federal government is doing all it can to address the crisis, with Republicans more than twice as likely as Democrats to feel that way.

Still, David Schleifer, the vice president and director of research at Public Agenda, sees some surprising agreement.

“You see a lot of support for the federal government taking a very active role in fighting the virus,” he says.

People on all sides of the political spectrum — 80% of Democrats and 64% of Republicans — say the federal government’s main priority should be preventing the spread of the virus.

There’s also broad support for the federal government to provide free coronavirus testing to all who need it and to mandate manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies help with supplies, treatments and vaccines.

Views on the federal government’s handling of COVID-19
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More than three-quarters of Americans also feel the government should provide businesses with no-interest loans, give cash payments directly to those who need it and pass paid sick-leave legislation.

But what about the looming prospect of a recession? Roughly one in 5 Americans, including 49-year-old Republican Jean Vo in Mobile, Ala., thinks protecting the economy should be the main priority.

“I understand they’re trying to prevent deaths,” Vo says, “but there are other long-term ways people’s lives can be affected even if they’re never touched by the virus themselves.

“Financial problems can destroy marriages very easily. If this drags on for months [and] people lose their homes, families are split up, it’s going to be bad. I really don’t know that it’s the right thing to do to completely shut down most of the economy to save lives.”

While fewer than 40% of Americans say they feel COVID-19 poses a threat to them personally, millions of Americans have already lost jobs.

Many who participated in the survey were already struggling with economic uncertainty, including 25-year-old Matthew Mullins in Grand Forks, N.D.

Mullins says the lack of paid sick leave incentivizes people to work through their illness, which puts everyone at risk. Before he got laid off last month, he worked at a factory that processes potato products.

“Very shortly before this all began, we had a co-worker with the flu who wasn’t willing to go home despite our protests,” Mullins says.

Rick Liske, a 46-year-old in Toledo, Ohio, is also faced with enormous uncertainty at this time. He recently lost his sous chef job at a local restaurant.

Courtesy of Rick Liske

Rick Liske lives in Toledo, Ohio.

“If you lost a job any other time, there were so many restaurants around, you could go find one,” he says. “Now, it’s just not that way.”

Liske says as a gay man, the forced closure of restaurants and bars is a double whammy: Not only did he lose his job, he’s lost his connection to the LGBTQ community.

“It’s just not a bar… it’s where people go for togetherness,” he says. “It’s kind of like being on ‘Cheers,’ where you want to go where everybody knows your name.”

Christian Sanchez, 21, in Hartford, Conn., says he’s been feeling pretty isolated being stuck in his apartment.

He says the hardest part of the COVID-19 pandemic has been losing access to a mental health program that provided group activities and therapy sessions.

Courtesy of Christian Sanchez

Christian Sanchez lives in Hartford, Connecticut.

Sanchez says his faith in God is keeping him afloat. Once this all passes, he’s eager to visit his grandmother again.

“She’s like my best friend,” Sanchez says. “My biggest worry is, how long is it going to take?”

Liske says the one bright spot in all this is that, like many Americans, he’s been checking in more often with his elderly parents and is staying more in touch with family overall.

And he’s hopeful this crisis will breed compassion, which will help those who are struggling make it through.

Prevent the spread or protect the economy?
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Christine Herman is a reporter at Illinois Public Media. Follow her on Twitter: @CTHerman

Behind this story

This story was produced by America Amplified, a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. America Amplified is using community engagement to inform and strengthen local, regional and national journalism. It was developed in partnership with Side Effects Public Media, a news collaborative covering public health. 

For this story, Side Effects Public Media and America Amplified partnered with the Hidden Common Ground Initiative, spearheaded by Public Agenda and USA Today, along with the National Issues Forums and Ipsos. The initiative challenges the dominant narrative of a hopelessly divided America by identifying areas of common ground and looking for solutions to politically polarizing issues. 

The survey was conducted in 2020, from March 27 through March 30 and was based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,002 adults 18 and older.

Follow America Amplified on Twitter at @amplified2020. Follow Hidden Common Ground at @PublicAgenda.

Shelter animals, food service workers and others need support; Here’s how you can help Friday, Apr 3 2020 

Here's a list of some local non-profit that have donation pages on their websites.

        

Salvation Army on food frontline as demand surge in Indiana during coronavirus crisis Thursday, Apr 2 2020 

The organization is delivering food to hundreds of people every week.

        

Where to turn for financial help to pay rent, mortgage and other bills during the COVID-19 pandemic Wednesday, Apr 1 2020 

It's recommended that you reach out immediately to your mortgage lender, student loan service or utility provider to see what's available.

        

Kentuckiana agency holds virtual rally to end child abuse Wednesday, Apr 1 2020 

This year's rally will be held online due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the mission remains the same: to end child abuse in Kentucky and Indiana.

        

‘We will get through this together’ | 10 things Gov. Beshear wants Kentuckians to do to beat COVID-19 Wednesday, Apr 1 2020 

Governor Andy Beshear says if we consistently take these 10 steps we will flatten the curve.

        

Partial Shutdown At GE Appliance Park After Probable Coronavirus Case Tuesday, Mar 31 2020 

An employee at GE Appliance Park in Louisville has a probable but unconfirmed case of coronavirus. According to a release from the company on Tuesday evening, the employee is under quarantine, and the company is notifying anyone who was in close contact with the worker, and asking them to stay at home.

GE Appliances

A statement from GE Appliances sent March 31 at 7:17 p.m.

GE Appliance Park just reopened on Monday after having been closed for a week to implement safety measures and deep clean the facility. On March 28, employees held a protest asking for hazard pay and other accommodations. When they returned to work on March 30, some said they still did not feel safe at work.

Amina Elahi | wfpl.org

GE workers protest the company’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, March 28

Now the company says Building Three at the appliance park will close for 48 hours while high traffic areas are cleaned. According to the release, no work will be performed “in the affected area of the building” for the next 14 days.

After GE’s announcement, we talked to an employee named Alexandria, who asked to be identified by only her first name to protect her job. She works on refrigerator parts.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when it will spread,” Alexandria said. “If we’d been able to stay home even an extra week, we could have helped to flatten the curve, like the governor always says. All we want them to do is really make the changes they say they are going to make and show that they actually care.”

GE did not name the affected employee.

In a letter to union members on March 31, IUE-CWA Local 83761 President Dino Driskell said he was in quarantine awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test. Driskell said he had been coughing for a few days and running a fever since the day before.

Reporter Eleanor Klibanoff contributed to this story.

Interactive map shows where to get food assistance in Indiana during pandemic Monday, Mar 30 2020 

The map shows two types of organizations, food pantries and meal sites.

        

Louisville Now Has 140 Coronavirus Cases, Including An LMPD Officer Sunday, Mar 29 2020 

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said that there are now 140 positive cases of coronavirus in the city, an increase of 14 since Saturday, though he said that “significantly understates” the total number of people infected because of a lack of testing.

“We’re not seeing the kind of explosion of new cases that’s happening in New York and other parts of the country because we’re not testing as much,” Fischer said during a video press conference Sunday afternoon.

“Hopefully the strategies that we’ve been employing at the state level and the city level and the personal level have been working.”

As of Saturday evening, there were 394 coronavirus cases across the entire state with more than 5,500 people tested.

In recent weeks, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has issued several orders restricting in-person traffic from non-essential businesses, schools and government buildings and has strongly advised against people gathering in groups to help prevent spread of the disease.

Fischer criticized people who flouted “social distancing” guidelines in Louisville over the weekend, including reports of people going to parties, drag racing and golfing.
Fischer said he would have to order the closure of public golf courses if people don’t properly distance themselves from others.

Basketball hoops and tennis nets have already been removed from public parks across the city.

“We’ve allowed golf courses to remain in operation because golf’s one of the few sports in which you can play and maintain six feet of separation,” Fischer said. “Please don’t put me in a position of having to shut our golf courses down too.”

Fischer also shared that a Louisville Metro Police officer has tested positive for coronavirus.

Reading a statement from Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad, Fischer said that the officer is currently being treated at a hospital and the department has notified those who may have worked with them recently.

“We’re sorry to hear that, obviously,” Fischer said during a Sunday afternoon press conference. “All the folks that have been impacted or affected have been notified, they go into quarantine. We’ll follow that same protocol with our LMPD officer and obviously we wish them and our firefighters, everyone affected by the virus, the best.”

Fischer said that the area where the officer worked and vehicle have been cleaned and sanitized.

In recent days, the city has reported two fire fighters that have been infected with the disease.

Despite not being able to meet, RSOs are still finding ways to engage Thursday, Mar 26 2020 

By Victoria Doll —

All on-campus events and activities have been cancelled until further notice due to the spread of COVID-19. According to the University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi, online instruction is extended to the end of the semester and so are final exams; therefore, all campus events are suspended as well. 

In her latest email, Bendapudi said, “Events hosted by any University of Louisville entity or at any University of Louisville facility are to be postponed or cancelled through at least April 28th.” 

Even though there are no in-person meeting times for U of L’s clubs, there are still ways to participate and stay engaged. According to Julia Onnembo, University of Louisville’s assistant director of student involvement, a great way to stay engaged is to use the Engage website to cast your vote to elect your RSO Officers.

She said, “Engage has a great election program that you can use to run a virtual ballot in your individual portals.”  

Another way that campus RSOs are staying engaged is through group chats. A lot of clubs are maintaining communication through the app GroupMe or other mass messaging apps. 

To keep business flowing as normal as possible, some clubs use the platform Zoom to host online meetings and hold elections. For example, The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) club on campus continues to host meetings through Zoom to discuss basic club information and how to move forward. 

NSCS’s President Ashley Ward, said, “These unprecedented times call for leaders who can adapt to abrupt changes. As a student leader of an RSO, my fellow officers and I have agreed to continue to offer open communication.” 

She continued to say that she encourages all RSOs to adjust as best as possible. “Student leaders need to adjust to online meetings, emails, social media and independent activities. Our primary purpose right now is to be an outlet for questions and concerns. Since we have quickly learned to adapt to an online campus, I know that we can face future challenges.”

Ashley has hope that even though these times are challenging, next semester the NSCS club and the community of U of L will be closer as a community. 

Overall, there isn’t much that anyone can do besides focus on classes and help the cause by staying inside and following other CDC guidelines.

Bendapudi concluded her email with some thoughtful advice and words of encouragement. “Despite all the busy-ness, I hope you will take a moment to pause.  Slow down.  Anchor yourself in what matters most to you. Together we will persevere through this tumultuous time and come out the other side a stronger, more unified university community.” 

File photo // The Louisville Cardinal

The post Despite not being able to meet, RSOs are still finding ways to engage appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

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