We must mobilize to help contain Covid-19 and insist that our leaders act responsibly.

August 2020

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We last communicated about where we could from here as we dealt with the initial shelter-in-place requirements to stem the spread of the Covid-19 virus. We now have even more reason to both envision and take action toward the way forward. The Covid-19 Pandemic’s impact, along with recent events that include the George Floyd murder, have brought to the forefront the urgency to address the systemic racism and levels of social, economic and political injustices in our country.

In his opinion piece, written just before his death, and published in the New York Times on July 30th, John Lewis references Dr. Martin Luther King’s admonition,

“It is not enough to say it will get better by and by. Each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act.”

As I see the daily reports of widespread surges of virus contagion, and the lack of cohesive, if not confusing and misleading, national and statewide leadership on managing this, I believe we must immediately take individual and collective leadership to contain the virus. In this video produced by the Stanford University of Medicine, Dr. Larry Chu explains how we as individuals can help stem the spread of the virus by wearing a mask, keeping a distance and washing our hands. While many of you reading this message are likely to already be following these protocols, we can help pass this information along to others, particularly in states that are not following any mandated policies. Additionally, we can implore our representatives to present public service announcements everywhere about how these simple, everyday actions can make a difference.

Furthermore, I believe we must also speak up to our local community leaders about addressing the challenges people are facing in high risk areas where close living conditions, the pressure to work even if sick, and the lack of access to adequate health care are all making containment of virus spread that much more difficult. We can’t just keep hearing the statistics about these situations, we must actually insist on constructive action on the part of the people in a position to do something.

The most outrageous and heartbreaking part of what is going on is the way this pandemic and how to best manage it, has become so politicized. This July 30th Forbes article presents compelling information on this point. While it seems very clear that we cannot possibly reopen our schools, our businesses and the overall economy until we all are able to consistently take the safety actions needed – wear a mask, keep a distance and wash our hands – along with having better testing and contract tracking systems, and that this would be beneficial to all sides of the political spectrum, there is truly unbelievable rhetoric coming from the White House, with complicit silence, or even worse, ignorance-based commentary, from Republicans in Congress and in Republican led states. One recent example, as shown in this CNN article, is the president spreading misinformation from Larry Franks, a dentist from drlarryfranks.com, claiming DNA from aliens has been used in medical treatments. What is going on? How can this be okay?

I just re-watched Network, the 1976 movie where actor Peter Finch portrays the newscaster Howard Beale who is forced out due to poor ratings, yet who becomes the national hero mobilizing his audiences to speak up, as shown here. As I see it, we have all the resources and wherewithal to do much, much better than what we’re experiencing to manage the virus until we have a vaccine. We must forge our political will to insist that all the people charged with defending the safety of the American people and the U. S. Constitution do their jobs, while we as individuals and members of our communities, do what we can to bring about greater health, equality, justice and dignity for ourselves and all around us.

With appreciation and best regards,

Sandy Sohcot, Director

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