The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Need for Diversity in the Delta Regional Authority State Alternates and Designees, March 1, 2021

Posted on March 01, 2021 at 05:57 PM

The Delta Caucus is bringing to the attention of the governors of the eight Delta states the need to promote diversity at all levels of the agency. Currently all 10 of the DRA state designees and alternates are whites, and this sends the wrong message for such a diverse region with a large African American population.

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state agency. The President appointees the Federal Co-Chairman and Alternate Federal Co-Chairman to the board. On the state side, the eight governors are state board members and they select alternates and designees to help supervise the ongoing legwork for the agency’s mission of community and economic development for the eight-state region. The full-time career staff play a crucial role, of course.

The Delta areas of these states have very large African American populations, so we are asking all eight governors to add African Americans to the state designee and/or alternate posts. All these posts should not be held by white individuals.

We need to make absolutely clear that we support the DRA and believe that it is doing a fine job for the region on the whole. We feel sure this is just an oversight that will soon be corrected regarding the state designees and alternates.

Delta Caucus partners were involved in creating the DRA in 2000, and over the past 20 years we opposed efforts by President George W. Bush, President Donald Trump and others to abolish it or slash its funding. Now in the Biden-Harris administration we believe there is a great opportunity to expand and improve the agency. It should have a much larger budget than the currently small 28 million to help fight poverty in a region of 10 million people.

We have sent messages in the spirit of constructive advice to all eight governors and hope to get feedback from all of them.

We would like to express our appreciation to Clint O’Neal, director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission as well as being the DRA designee for Arkansas, for expeditiously responding to the letter and indicating he will take up this matter with Gov. Asa Hutchinson. We will report back on his response as soon as we receive it, along with responses from the other governors.

Unfortunately we have not yet received any response from the other seven governors. This is disappointing. They need to at least have a dialogue about this issue.

We are not blaming anyone at this point, but just calling to the governors’ attention the unfortunate–to put it diplomatically–situation were all 10 state designees and alternates are white.

Now, of course the voters determine who the governors of the eight states are. All eight governors happen to be white, but we are not addressing that here because, again, those were the voters’ decisions.

Please look at the DRA website at www.mdgc.us and you will see the 10 white state designees and alternates along with the eight governors. In total, we see 18 white faces in the leadership positions for a highly diverse region. Below in this message see data on the large African American populations in the region.

Six of the eight states currently have only one post filled, either an alternate or designee filled, so we would encourage them to add an African American appointee as soon as possible.

Tennessee and Alabama currently have both state appointed posts filled, so we are encouraging them to appoint an African American at the next opening in those posts.

With the sad history of racial oppression in the Greater Delta along with the hard-fought but obviously incomplete progress that has been made in the last 50 years, we would really urge the DRA to promote diversity at all levels of its structure.

On the federal side, President Biden and Vice President Harris have of course only recently assumed office and are filling posts now, but have understandably not yet gotten to the DRA posts. There is some Congressional opposition to some of their nominees, so that is delaying matters.

We would encourage the Biden-Harris administration to appoint an African American–preferably a woman–to the Federal Co-Chairman post, and in the spirit of diversity to appoint a white male to the Alternate Federal Co-Chair post. Diversity of course means that whites, African Americans and all people should be represented.

With President Biden having appointed substantial numbers of minorities thus far and Vice President Harris being the first African American and the first woman to be Vice President of the United States, we would expect that they will be amenable to having one African American and one white male in the top two posts at the DRA.

Unfortunately, thus far in its history since being created in 2001 all of the six individuals who have held either the Federal Co-Chair or Alternate Federal Co-Chair posts have been white males. For such a diverse region, this was tone-deaf. The Biden-Harris administration can remedy this problem by bringing an African American to the DRA now in the name of diversity.

Some people have expressed the view that since there are only two DRA Presidential posts, perhaps it might be better to spread those opportunities to new appointees rather than give them again to people who have already had the opportunity to serve at the DRA–HOWEVER–there are others who make a good case that if one of the individuals wanted to serve again and was paired with a new person who had not yet served at the DRA, that would be fine. We could see it going either way–SO YOU DECIDE.

We understand that the full-time career staff includes African Americans and we would encourage that trend to continue.

We do not make these recommendations in a rigid, mechanical way. If, for example, the Biden-Harris administration were to nominate a well-qualified white male as Federal Co-Chairman and an African American woman as Alternate Federal Co-Chairman, that would also be a positive combination regarding racial and gender diversity.

The DRA Presidential appointees should be people who have a long track record of dedication to, involvement in, and knowledge of the Delta’s community and economic development. It is not our intention here to do a “sales job” for any particular individuals, but just to present a couple of examples of people who are well qualified, we would mention Millie Atkins, an African American community leader from Monroe, Louisiana, long-time executive in the private sector, and veteran Delta regional advocate. Similarly, we would mention Mike Marshall, veteran Delta regional advocate, formerly Alternate Federal Co-Chair at DRA, currently CEO and Executive Director of the Sikeston, Missouri Regional Chamber and Economic Development Corp. Either Ms.Atkins or Mr. Marshall would be fine examples of well-qualified candidates for either of the posts, although there will be a large number of candidates. We will work with whomever the Biden-Harris administration chooses.

Diversity means that we need to include whites as well as minorities. But we can all agree that 10 appointees of one race and zero of the other is a far cry from reasonable diversity.

Just for the record, we would like to clarify that Delta Caucus Director Lee Powell has taken himself out of the running for Federal Co-Chairman for the obvious reason that he advocates in favor of the appointment of an African American to that post. While he indicated he could consider the Alternate Federal Co-Chair post if it should be offered–provided that the other Presidential appointee goes to an African American–that is very unlikely. Powell indicates that he is happy to stay where he is at the Delta Caucus. We mention this because a number of people jumped to the conclusion that Powell was actively campaigning for the DRA Federal Co-Chair post when in fact that is not the case.

We welcome everybody to contact the Biden administration or the White House Presidenitial Personnel Office and recommend a well-qualified candidate for the DRA posts. These are the taxpayers’ jobs and everybody is free to weigh in.

DATA ON THE LARGE AFRICAN AMERICAN POPULATION IN THE DELTA

LOUISIANA

Statewide percentage of African Americans is 32.2%

Delta areas are even much higher:

New Orleans’ population is 59% black.

Tallulah, Louisiana in the northeast Delta is 77% black

Monroe, Louisiana–one of our larger cities–is more than 50% black.

MISSISSIPPI–

Statewide population is 37.7% black.

The heart of the Delta area in Mississippi is the Second Congressional District represented by Rep. Bennie Thompson, and it is approximately 65% black.

ARKANSAS

Statewide percentage is 15.4% black.

However, the non-Delta western part of the state is heavily white.

Little Rock is 42.1% black. We consider Little Rock part of the region, especially its diverse, economically challenged neighorhoods.

Pine Bluff is 75% black.

Helena, Forrest City and many other eastern and southeastern Arkansas areas have very high African American percentages of the population.

The Second District that contains a substantial part of the Delta is 19.4% black.

The First Congressional District is 16.6% black. The southern and eastern parts of that district have much higher lack populations.

TENNESSEE

Statewide population is 17.1% black.

However, Memphis is the heart of the west Tennessee Delta, and it is 64% black.

Another larger community in western Tennessee is Jackson at 49%.

ALABAMA

Statewide percentage is 26.8% black.

The Alabama Black Belt is included in the DRA because it is demographically, socially, economically and historically similar to the heart of the Delta region.

The Alabama Black Belt is 52.24% black.

Selma, Alabama is 80.3% black.

(HISTORICAL NOTE–The Alabama Black Belt originally received its name because of the rich, dark soil that produced such bountiful crops. After the influx of large numbers of African Americans during the slavery and Jim Crow eras, it acquired a different connotation in many people’s minds as having the “Black Belt” refer to the large number of African Americans who lived there.)

MISSOURI

The “Delta portion” of Missouri, as is also the case with western Kentucky and southern Illinois, is such a small percentage of the state’s population that statewide figures do not mean very much.

The key southern Illinois city of Sikeston is about 25% black.

Caruthersville in the Missouri Bootheel is 39% black.

The Delta counties of Pemiscot (26.1%, Mississippi County (24.7%), and New Madrid (15.8%) have substantial African American populations.

ILLINOIS

The key southern Illinois city of Carbondale is 25% black.

Some southern Illinois counties have very small African American populations, such as Williamson, Union and Faulkner, all at 5% or less.

Perry, Jefferson and Jackson counties in southern Illinois have 15% or less black populations.

KENTUCKY

Kentucky as a whole is only 8% black and some DRA areas of the state have small African American populations.

The key western Kentucky city of Paducah is 21.77% black.

Fuller County is 24.2% black and Union County is 13.4% black. Most other western Kentucky counties have substantially smaller black populations.

Delta At Higher Risk in Pandemic--Message from Medical Doctor on Urgent Need to Get Vaccinated ASAP

Posted on February 10, 2021 at 11:39 AM

People in the Delta must get vaccinated as soon as they can. Dr. Anthony Fauci indicated we need for 75 to 85% of the population to get the vaccine in order to stop the pandemic. We are unfortunately still finding some people who are reluctant to take the vaccine.

With higher percentages of people in higher risk categories, including those with underlying conditions, minorities, and lower income people who may lack access to medical care, the Greater Delta population urgently needs to follow safety guidelines and get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Urgent message from Dr. Kevin Stephens, distinguished medical doctor from New Orleans: While this is a risk for everybody, African Americans are at higher risk. We have a statement urging African Americans to get vaccinated from Dr. Kevin Stephens, a distinguished medical doctor, pastor and lawyer from New Orleans who played a vital role in helping people harmed by Hurricane Katrina, the oil spill and other health crises. He is also an African American leader in the Greater Delta Region who has participated at previous Delta Caucus events.

We are all sensitive to the disturbing history of discrimination against African Americans. Dr. Stephens emphasizes that getting vaccinated is “a matter of life or death.”

A report from Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families stated that black Arkansans are three times more likely to die of the virus than Whites.

For every 100,000 White Arkansans, 2.1 have died a COVID-19 related death; while for every 100,000 black Arkansans, the rate is 7.1.

Regarding the use of Ivermectin against Covid-19, it is possible that the FDA might conduct further clinical trials and conclude that it may have some use in fighting the virus. But they have not approved it yet. The FDA warns against using any medication before it has been approved for use against the virus.

TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS NEWSLETTER

  1. Quick facts from the CDC on the virus and vaccine
  2. Statement from Dr. Kevin Stephens, Sr., MD, JD
  3. Some examples of partners’ experiences with the virus or the vaccine
  4. Statement from FDA warning against the use of Ivermectin to treat or prevent Covid-19
  5. IN Arkansas, blacks are contracting and dying from the virus at much higher rates than whites

Quick facts from the CDC:

· Vaccines do not contain a live virus and do not carry a risk of causing disease in the vaccinated person.

· The vaccine is safe. Some people have no side-effects, others have some soreness, fatigue and other side-effects that usually wears off after a few days.

· The vast majority of people who get the virus recover, but anyone experiencing symptoms should seek treatment immediately. The newer variants are more contagious and reportedly tend to cause more serious cases. People 65 or older and/or with underlying conditions are at higher risk.

· All the COVID-19 vaccines being used have gone through rigorous studies to ensure they are as safe as possible. Systems that allow CDC to watch for safety issues are in place across the entire country. The vaccines were developed very rapidly due to the dire threat posed by the virus and the massive resources invested in the effort, but rigorous safety standards were adhered to.

· The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Emergency Use Authorizations for COVID-19 vaccines that have been shown to meet rigorous safety criteria and be effective as determined by data from the manufacturers and findings from large clinical trials.

A CALL TO ACTION!

By Dr. Kevin U. Stephens, Sr., MD, JD, New Orleans

Why Should African Americans get vaccinated NOW?

It is a matter of life or death, it is your choice!

According to a study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, COVID-19 may shorten Americans’ life expectancy at birth of by a median of 1.13 years, to 77.48 years. This is the largest single-year dip in 40 years. It is also the lowest estimated lifespan since 2003 for Americans.

Before COVID-19, on average, African Americans die 3.5 years younger than Whites and Black Males die 9 years younger than White Females

According to the CDC, the life expectancy at birth for African American is 75.5 with it being 72.2 for African American males in 2015. This is compared to 78.9 for white and 81.3 for white females. There is a 9.1-year difference between Black males and White females.

After COVID-19, on average, African Americans die an additional 2.1 years sooner than whites

The decline for black Americans is estimated to be 2.10 years sooner, at 72.78 years. The decline for whites is projected to be 0.68 years, with a life expectancy of 77.84 years.

It is projected that the gap in life expectancy between black and white Americans could increase from 3.6 to more than 5 years or approximately 40%.

We must act now and get vaccinated!

WHAT CAN WE DO? GET VACCINATED NOW!

New data from Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine trial shows an efficacy rate of 94.1% and that the shot can prevent symptomatic infection, according to a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Cases of severe COVID-19 occurred only in participants who received the placebo. The high efficacy rate of Moderna’s vaccine nearly matches that of Pfizer’s vaccine which boasts an efficacy rate of 95%.

BOTTOM LINE GET VACCINATED

–COVID-19 spreads very easily from person to person

–COVID-19 most commonly spreads during close contact

· –People who are physically near (within 6 feet) a person with COVID-19 or have direct contact with that person are at greatest risk of infection.

· –When people with COVID-19 cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe they produce respiratory droplets.

· –Infections occur mainly through exposure to respiratory droplets when a person is in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

· –Respiratory droplets cause infection when they are inhaled or deposited on mucous membranes, such as those that line the inside of the nose and mouth.

–COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission

· Some infections can be spread by exposure to virus in small droplets and particles that can linger in the air for minutes to hours.

· This kind of spread is referred to as airborne transmission and is an important way that infections like tuberculosis, measles, and chicken pox are spread.

COVID-19 spreads less commonly through contact with contaminated surfaces

· Respiratory droplets can also land on surfaces and objects. It is possible that a person could get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.

· Spread from touching surfaces is not thought to be a common way that COVID-19 spreads

Protect yourself and others

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. You can take steps to slow the spread.

–· Stay at least 6 feet away from others, whenever possible. This is very important in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

· –Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others. This helps reduce the risk of spread both by close contact and by airborne transmission.

· –Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

· –Avoid crowded indoor spaces and ensure indoor spaces are properly ventilated by bringing in outdoor air as much as possible. In general, being outdoors and in spaces with good ventilation reduces the risk of exposure to infectious respiratory droplets. ·

–Stay home and isolate from others when sick.

· –Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and take other steps to stop the spread at home.

WHAT CAN WE DO? GET VACCINATED NOW!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that for children born in the U.S. from 1994 to 2013, vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes.

Some experiences of Delta partners with the virus or the vaccine

Scott Prosterman, Memphis native, consultant, now based in California, said “I had Phase 1 of the Moderna Covid vaccine yesterday morning. Getting Phase 2 in 30 days. I’m a little sluggish & tired, & my left deltoid feels like I got shot with a rubber bullet yesterday. Fortunately I’ve never had that experience, but I’m guessing. So painful, it restricts basic household and occupational tasks and some yoga poses. Wondering if ice would be helpful or counterproductive. After the shot, I ran some errands & food gathering on the way home. Ate a nice brunch & took a nap. Whatever chill I felt, I discerned was from stripping down to my t-shirt for the shot at the outdoor clinic set up in Berkeley. So no fever, but definitely a bit sluggish.”

State Rep. Reginald Murdock, Marianna, said he took the first dose of the vaccine and had minimal side-effects.

Earlier Rep. Murdock had a mild case of Covid-19 and fully recovered.

Caucus Director has applied for the vaccine and is eligible in the Washington, DC suburbs in Maryland, but this area currently has a backlog of several weeks.

Harvey Joe Sanner, Delta Caucus senior adviser from Des Arc, AR, said on Feb. 10 that he had received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine. He said he had no side-effects except for a slightly sore arm. He said he was looking forward to taking the second dose.

Sanner said he knows people in east central Arkansas in Prairie, White and Arkansas counties who are using and promoting the use of Invermectin to treat or prevent Covid-19. Sanner and all Delta Caucus partners warn our colleagues in the region NOT to make this ill-advised and un-approved misuse of Invermectin.

FDA Statement Warning Against Use of Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent Covid-19

Q: Should I take ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19?

A: No. While there are approved uses for ivermectin in people and animals, it is not approved for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. You should not take any medicine to treat or prevent COVID-19 unless it has been prescribed to you by your health care provider and acquired from a legitimate source.

A recently released research articleExternal Link Disclaimer described the effect of ivermectin on SARS-CoV-2 in a laboratory setting. These types of laboratory studies are commonly used at an early stage of drug development. Additional testing is needed to determine whether ivermectin might be appropriate to prevent or treat coronavirus or COVID-19.

Q: Is there an emergency use authorization for ivermectin in the U.S. to prevent or treat coronavirus or COVID-19?

A: No. FDA has created a special emergency program for possible therapies, the Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program (CTAP). It uses every available method to move new treatments to patients as quickly as possible, while at the same time finding out whether they are helpful or harmful. We continue to support clinical trials that are testing new treatments for COVID so that we can gain valuable knowledge about their safety and effectiveness.

Q: What is ivermectin approved for in the U.S.?

A: Ivermectin tablets are approved for use in humans for the treatment of some parasitic worms (intestinal strongyloidiasis and onchocerciasis) and ivermectin topical formulations are approved for human use by prescription only for the treatment of external parasites such as headlice and for skin conditions such as rosacea.

Ivermectin is FDA-approved for use in animals for prevention of heartworm disease in some small animal species, and for treatment of certain internal and external parasites in various animal species.

People should never take animal drugs, as the FDA has only evaluated their safety and effectiveness in the particular species for which they are labeled. Using these products in humans could cause serious harm.

Q: Is there any danger to humans taking ivermectin?

A: There are approved uses for ivermectin in people and animals but it is not approved for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. You should not take any medicine to treat or prevent COVID-19 unless it has been prescribed to you by your health care provider and acquired from a legitimate source.

Some of the side-effects that may be associated with ivermectin include skin rash, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, facial or limb swelling, neurologic adverse events (dizziness, seizures, confusion), sudden drop in blood pressure, severe skin rash potentially requiring hospitalization and liver injury (hepatitis). Laboratory test abnormalities include decrease in white cell count and elevated liver tests.

Any use of ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 should be avoided as its benefits and safety for these purposes have not been established. Data from clinical trials are necessary for us to determine whether ivermectin is safe and effective in treating or preventing COVID-19.

Q: What should I do if the ivermectin products I purchase for use in my animals are not available at my typical retailer? A: Ivermectin is an important part of a parasite control program for certain species and should only be given to animals for approved uses or as prescribed by a veterinarian in compliance with the requirements for extra-label drug use. Due to potentially elevated interest in ivermectin following the new research, some products may not be available. If you are having difficulty locating a particular ivermectin product for your animal(s), the FDA recommends that you consult with your veterinarian.

Q: What is the FDA doing to protect people from fraudulent COVID-19 products? A: We have established a cross-agency task force dedicated to closely monitoring for fraudulent COVID-19 products. We have reached out to major retailers to ask for their help in monitoring online marketplaces for fraudulent COVID-19 products. Products sold are subject to FDA investigation and potential enforcement action if they claim to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure COVID-19 and have not demonstrated safety and effectiveness for that intended use. The task force has already worked with retailers to remove dozens of these types of product listings online.

The FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issue warning letters to companies that violate federal law and pose significant risks to patient health by selling unapproved products with fraudulent claims to treat or prevent COVID-19. View the warning letters for more information.

Report from Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families: Blacks Are Contracting and Dying from Covid-19 at much Higher Rates than Whites

According to data compiled by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families:

–Black Arkansans are three times more likely to die of the virus than Whites

For every 100,000 White Arkansans, 2.1 have died a COVID-19 related death;

for every 100,000 Black Arkansans, the rate is 7.1.

African Americans face obstaclessuch as limited access to health care, economic inequality, and other structural inequities that place them at a higher risk from COVID-19.

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families concluded that “Pre-existing conditions like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other chronic illnesses increase the likelihood of contracting and dying from the virus. Also, racism faced in the healthcare system often leads to under-diagnosis and under-treatment for people of color.”

African Americans and Latinos are also much more likely to work “essential” jobs that require their physical presence. This obviously places them at a higher risk than people who can remain isolated in their homes to work.

The Economic Policy Center found that the Latinx community has the lowest proportion of workers who are able to tele-work (16.2 percent, compared to 19.7 percent for Black Americans, 30 percent for White Americans, and 37 percent for Asian Americans).

Strong Stimulus Package Needed after Huge Job Losses, Amount Closer to $1.9 Trillion Essential

Posted on February 02, 2021 at 03:48 PM

The Greater Delta Region and the US economy as a whole need a strong stimulus package ASAP to deal with the loss of about 10 million jobs and an economic decline of 3.5% last year.

While we are glad to see bipartisan negotiations going on, the logical need is much closer to the Biden administration figure of $1.9 trillion rather than the minority view of less than a third that amount.

While some projections forecast a return to the same overall size of the economy by summer or fall–in which the inequality between lower income people in regions like the Delta and more affluent regions would become even more pronounced-virtually all projections indicate it will take years before everyone thrown out of their jobs by the virus will return to work.

Without a stimulus package, employment will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the economy was “a long way from a full recovery” with millions of people still out of work, small businesses facing serious pressures, and new, more contagious variants of the virus complicating efforts to continue the recent decrease in infections.

The great majority of Delta Caucus partners agree that aid should go where it is needed most–for unemployment relief, aid to small businesses, job creation investments, and broad-based economic stimulus.

If President Biden chooses to make some minor concessions on points that are not directly related to the current need for economic progress, that could be reasonable, but the total needs to be close to $1.9 trillion.

A full, solid recovery will create jobs and thus generate much greater revenue to reduce the deficits after the recovery takes hold. The economy needs a strong recovery first, and then we can cut back on high spending levels as job growth and stronger revenue determine.

WE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT MAIN STREET, NOT WALL STREET

Inflation is very low–Congressional Budget Office forecasts indicate that inflation levels will stay below the Fed’s target of 2% for the next several years, as the Fed continues to hold interest rates close to zero.

There is not any significant evidence that growth could run hot enough to ignite a major spike in inflation. With the job losses and economic decline last year, all economic factors point toward a need for broad-based economic growth.

In a democracy, a reasonable compromise should be much closer to the plan devised by the elected President and majority in Congress than the minority, especially when many Republicans such as Republican Gov. Justice of West Virginia stress “now is the time to go big” to get the economy back on track.

DELTA CAUCUS CONTINUES ADVOCACY BY E-MAIL, INTERNET, SOCIAL MEDIA, ZOOM AND OTHER FORMS OF COMMUNICATION

The Delta Caucus senior advisers to advocate by email, phone, social media, Zoom and other forms of communication during the pandemic.

The scope of the Greater Delta Region conference on Capitol Hill on May 12-14 will of course be determined by the pandemic situation at that time.

If it is still severe we will hold a smaller in-person conference supplemented by some Zoom sessions.

If the vaccinations, mask-wearing, social distancing and hand-washing lead to a substantially improved situation, we will consider a somewhat larger group in the range of 50 to 70 in-person in DC.

It is true that some people either were not harmed at all by the pandemic and recession and even became more affluent since it broke out. We in the Delta Caucus are concerned about those who did lose their jobs and we don’t agree that waiting until 2024 is acceptable to help those people.

PANDEMIC SITUATION

Arkansas today reported the lowest number of hospitalizations in more than two months and a decline in active cases. Other states in the Delta were somewhat better or worse, but the overall trend regionally as well as nationally is toward declining deaths and increasing vaccination rates.

A Feb. 1 report indicated that 1.35 million doses per day were administered over the past seven days across the USA.

Deaths in the Delta were higher than average, although the region did not have all of the highest rates–that is still a very sad situation, but at least different from the pattern where Delta states have tended to take up most of the worst slots in economic or health-related rankings. 8 of the lowest states were not in the Delta and four of them ranked toward the middle of the range.

DEATHS PER 100,000 BY STATE

5TH HIGHEST–Mississippi, 203 deaths per 100,000 people.

8th highest–Louisiana: 192 per 100,000

13th highest–Arkansas 157 per 100,000

20th highest–Tennessee 141 per 100,000

Missouri had 117 deaths per 100,000 (26th) and Kentucky 89 per 100,000 at 40th.

Illinois state-wide statistics are not as indicative of the situation in the southern Illinois Delta, both because southern Illinois is such a small part of the overall population in that state and other areas in central and northern Illinois are very different demographically from southern Illinois.

Delta Caucus Praises Biden Executive Actions on Food Aid and Stimulus, Calls for Major Stimulus Package to Follow

Posted on January 22, 2021 at 01:41 PM

The Delta Caucus praises the Biden administration food assistance and economic stimulus policies, especially with historic policy changes and increases in SNAP and other food aid.

However, hunger and poverty across the country are so dire–and even moreso in the Delta–that a major stimulus package must follow soon.

“Fighting hunger is urgent in the Delta where the pandemic has made our already severe food insecurity even worse, and President Biden is taking historic steps in the fight against poverty and hunger,” said Caucus Director Lee Powell.

Biden is asking USDA to allow states to increase SNAP (food stamps) benefits as well as to increase by 15% benefits distributed by a school meals program for low-income students during the pandemic.

This is estimated to give a family of three children more than $100 in extra benefits every two months. The Delta region ranks at the bottom in food insecurity in the USA (see data below in this message).

Mayor Kevin Smith of Helena said “I’m excited about prospects for a greater commitment to helping cities like Helena and the Delta region from the Biden-Harris administration.”

Mayor Smith said “President Biden has worked on behalf of the Delta and similar populations for decades in the Senate and as Vice President. He is a student of Robert Kennedy’s historic leadership in bringing hunger in the Delta to the nation’s conscience, and as a Delta heartland mayor I am glad to have a strong federal partner to aid our state and local efforts.”

Kathy Webb of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance said her organization “is encouraged by the steps taken by the Biden Administration to address food insecurity. Arkansas food banks and pantries are seeing significant increases in demand, with much of that coming from first time users of the charitable food network.”

Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance said “A comprehensive short and long term approach, with increased SNAP benefits, increased P-EBT, continued extra commodity support, as well as revising guidelines for SNAP benefits is imperative.”

Harvey Joe Sanner, long-time Delta advocate from Des Arc, said “I’m most encouraged by President Biden’s emphasis on helping hungry and low-income people who need help the most, and unfortunately we have a very large number in that category in the Delta. It’s bad right now but I feel like we’ll start making progress instead of being stalemated with these constructive policies in place.”

Millie Atkins, Delta Caucus coordinator for Louisiana and a community leader in Monroe, Louisiana, said “While we are more hopeful now that we have the new Presidential administration, this is likely going to get worse before it gets better, and we don’t know what we will be facing tomorrow. Hunger in the Louisiana Delta is very serious now, and COVID has complicated the ability of our food banks to get enough food–they are asking urgently for donations in either food or money ASAP.”

Joel Berg of the anti-hunger and poverty organization Hunger Free America said the Biden actions are historic in scope and positive impact: “This is a bold, common-sense move to address the nation’s joint hunger and public health crises. These actions represent the most significant administrative actions by the federal government to fight domestic hunger in modern times. This action is both smart and compassionate.”

The larger-scale $1.9 trillion comprehensive stimulus will be essential. The food assistance policies of the Biden-Harris administration have multiple benefits: they fight the surge in hunger during the pandemic, reduce the greater vulnerability to illness caused by malnourished people, provide large markets for our farmers, and have an economic stimulus of about $1.70 for every dollar spent on SNAP.

Other constructive actions include advising the Labor Dept. to make workers who refuse to return to work in conditions that could expose them to the coronavirus eligible for unemployment insurance, get previously approved stimulus checks to people who have not received them yet, and requiring federal contractors to pay a $15 per hour minimum wage.

Earlier pandemic relief bills did not expand SNAP for the 40% of recipients who received the maximum benefit, but the current order allows states to increase SNAP emergency allotments for those who need them most. This is estimated to reach an additional 12 million people in enhanced benefits.

The recession is getting worse, not better. Last month, the economy lost jobs for the first time since the recovery began, weekly jobless claims in January remained at historic highs, and 50 million people are food insecure, including 17 million children.

Hunger in the Delta has plunged to deeply disturbing levels:

The three most heavily populated states with significant Delta areas, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana, had the three worst levels of adults not having enough food to eat in latest data by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities:

Louisiana 19%

Arkansas 18%

Mississippi 18%

Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky had among the highest food insecurity for adults at 14%.

The data for children who did not get enough to eat was even worse, with Mississippi at the bottom, and Arkansas and Louisiana tied for the next four worst:

Mississippi 25%

Arkansas 21%

Louisiana 21%

Kentucky’s level was 20% and Alabama was 16%. The other Delta states were substantially below the national averages.

The Delta Caucus commends the executive actions taken by the Biden administration. Now we urge all the Congressional delegations in the 8 Delta states to support the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion package.

POVERTY DATA–One in 3 adults across the country are having difficulty covering basic expenses like food, housing, medical care, and student loans, with Mississippi and Louisiana having the two worst levels:

Mississippi 45%

Louisiana 44%

Arkansas was at 39% and Alabama at 38%. Other Delta states were well below the national average.

1st Delta Conference in DC in 5 Years Set for May 12-14; Delta Caucus Continues Advocacy after pro-Trump Assault on the Capitol

Posted on January 08, 2021 at 04:45 PM

The Delta Caucus is moving forward with advocacy on Capitol Hill for the region’s economic progress after the defeat of the pro-Trump assault on the Capitol. There are promising prospects for the Delta’s economic progress in the new Congress and Biden administration.

The Caucus calls for strong actions against the pandemic and recession now and has just set the date for the first large-scale Delta conference on Capitol Hill in five years, on May 12-14, 2021.

We are asking all our colleagues to urge strong action by the new Congress and incoming Biden-Harris administration in efforts to promote economic development with stronger relief, unemployment aid, stimulus checks, increases in SNAP and other programs as we move past the pro-Trump failed coup and years of Presidential neglect for our region.

We encourage a strong turnout in DC on May 12-14, with a new administration and a new Congress much more likely to pursue legislation beneficial to our region.

The Delta Caucus commended Gov. Asa Hutchinson for not supporting the allegations of a fraudulent election, as well the votes of the Arkansas Congressional delegation–except Rep. Rick Crawford of east Arkansas–to vote against President Trump’s baseless claims that the election was stolen from him.

We applaud Sen. Tom Cotton–a staunch Trump supporter except for this vote–Sen. John Boozman, Rep. French Hill, Rep. Bruce Westerman and Rep. Steve Womack for voting to count the Electoral College votes duly presented by the states.

This is a victory for the rule of law, and now that this debacle is over we urge the delegation to get back to the job of taking action for job creation, infrastructure expansion, civil rights and diversity, economic opportunity for women and minorities, and a long-awaited major increase in funding for the Delta Regional Authority.

We regret that other senators and representatives from our region such as Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Rep. Rick Crawford–voted against counting the electoral votes even after the assault on the Capitol.

Rep. Crawford went even one extreme step further, blaming the US Supreme Court for not weighing the merits of the many spurious pro-Trump lawsuits. Crawford condemned the mob violence but that was a hollow gesture after he encouraged people to think the allegations should be taken seriously and then bashed the US Supreme Court for its upholding of the law.

We would ask Rep. Crawford to reconsider his position and realize his mistake in promoting the falsehoods about the election, which was fair and accurate according to knowledgeable officials from both parties.

Many Republicans have condemned Trump in this disaster, so this is bipartisan. We will be inviting participants from both parties in Congress, officials of the upcoming Biden-Harris administration, and grassroots leaders to the May 12-14 Delta Regional Conference.

BASIC SCHEDULE, MAY 12-14, 2021 DELTA CONFERENC ON CAPITOL HILL

The opening session will be on the Senate side May 12 in the evening from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (we are working on finalizing the meeting room).

We have set the US House of Representatives Gold Room Rayburn Building for the House session on May 13, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30. The House and Senate full sessions will include Members of Congress from both parties and new administration officials.

We will continue on the afternoon of May 13 and Friday May 14 with smaller-scale and individual meetings to make contacts to additional Congressional and executive offices.

SHORT LIST OF KEY INITIATIVES:

Continuing relief aid and unemployment aid to fight the recession and pandemic;

Job creation through USDA, SBA, Labor, infrastructure at DOT and other agencies;

USDA programs for rural small business, infrastructure, and rural housing programs to help renters and aid people become or remain home-owners;

USDA SNAP benefit increases of 15%,WIC, school meals and other nutrition programs to fight the spike in hunger caused by the pandemic. While SNAP is primarily the main bulwark against hunger, it also has a stimulus impact in that every $1 spent on SNAP generates about $1.70 in economic activity;

Health care–continuation and improvements of Medicaid expansion and other initiatives for health care to underserved populations during the pandemic;

Major broadband, housing, transportation infrastructure investments to create jobs and repair our deteriorating infrastructure;

Continuation of a moratorium on housing evictions;

Expansion of the budget for all the regional commissions, including DRA, Appalachian Regional Commission as the largest of the commissions and the others that extend throughout most regions of the country and actually cover a majority of states in the country.

–ARC funding was in the range of $500 million in its heyday. An increase to only half that of $250 million, and an increase for the DRA budget from its current tiny $28 million to $200 million would be a good starting point. If all the regional commissions were increased from their current relatively paltry amounts it would still represent a drop in the bucket of the enormous federal budget.

We needed Crawford to be focused on community and economic development in the Delta Region. He represents the heart of the Arkansas Delta. He should have been focusing on Delta economic issues instead of supporting these lies and encouraging his constituents to believe in them.

These events will not deter us from our normal advocacy on Capitol Hill, and in fact is likely to increase security there over the long term.

This week Delta Caucus Director Lee Powell was not going to let the Trump hooligans keep him from his usual practice of spending time on Capitol Hill. He is based there for that reason. While he was at the back of the melee and did not directly see any violence, there was an atmosphere of gratuitous animosity. He was not wearing any political paraphernalia or doing anything political, but because he was wearing a mask he had some Trump supporters yell at him “Take that god-damn mask off! Don’t you know it’s a hoax? There’s nothing to fear.”

Powell did not respond and moved on.

Powell saw other Trump supporters yelling at media: “You hate Trump, admit it. Say ‘I hate Trump.’” Of course it’s the pro-Trump people who are spouting hatred.

Even the day after the riot, at the Capitol there were still substantial numbers of Trump flag wavers, people with loud-speakers, etc., although they were much more subdued because there were a ton of police there that day. It was incompetent that the US Capitol Hill police were not out in those numbers on the day before.

REGISTRATION FEES

You register for the May 12-14, 2021 Delta Regional Conference on Capitol Hill by paying the $100 registration fees.

The easiest and fastest way to pay registration fees is to go on the website at mdgc.us and go to the Paypal link at the top of the site that says “Donate.”

GROUP DISCOUNT: We will give substantial group discounts down to $60 if you can recruit three others, and even larger discounts for recruiting a larger additional number of attendees.

If you prefer to pay by check, please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601