The missing piece in the coronavirus stimulus bill: Relief for immigrants

“The bill, known as the CARES Act, delivers direct payments to most taxpayers, vastly expands unemployment benefits, and makes testing for the virus free, among other provisions. But although unauthorized immigrants are no more immune from the effects of the current crisis, the stimulus bill conspicuously leaves them out in the cold — potentially putting them at greater economic and health risk, and impeding public health efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus.”

““Those who cannot obtain relief are likely to continue going out and trying to earn a living, at the risk of themselves and spreading the virus to others,” Theresa Cardinal Brown, director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Institute, told Vox. “The cost of providing this benefit to them has to be weighed against the need to keep up the restrictions to stop the virus spread.””

Millions of N95 masks keep surfacing. So why is there still a shortage?

“Certified N95 respirators are special. Unlike a conventional surgical mask, N95 masks are built so that 95 percent of very small airborne particles can’t get through. These masks also need to be approved by the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and, depending on the type, the Food and Drug Administration. In order to fulfill those requirements, N95 masks must be constructed so that they seal tightly around one’s mouth and nose, unlike surgical or cloth masks which are loose-fitting.

The United States is now confronted with a shortage of N95 masks for a number of reasons. The masks themselves are difficult to make, in part because they require specialized equipment to meet stringent regulatory standards. Many of the companies that can make the masks are also in China. That supply chain wasn’t prepared for a pandemic, especially one that originated in the same country where many of these masks are produced. And as the novel coronavirus spread throughout China, the country’s government bought its domestically produced masks, ensuring they weren’t exported. That’s made the gap between supply and demand in the US much larger.

In the absence of a pandemic, the US has typically not produced enough of these N95 masks to meet the needs of its own workers. Prestige Ameritech and 3M are the two primary companies that do end-to-end production of medical-grade N95 masks in the US, and both are both ramping up production. Another American company, Honeywell, recently started producing N95 masks at its Rhode Island and Phoenix facilities. Still, these three companies won’t solve our mask shortage.”

U.S. Population Growth Rate Lowest in a Century, Says New Report

“”In the United States, fewer births and more deaths reduced population growth to a 100-year low,” reports a new study by demographers at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). They add that “in nearly 46 percent of counties, more people died than were born last year.”
As I reported last year, the U.S. total fertility rate fell in 2018 to 1.73 births per woman, the lowest rate ever recorded. In general, the U.S. total fertility rate was been below replacement fertility—the level at which a given generation can exactly replace itself, usually defined as 2.1 births per woman—since 1971.”

“Interestingly, the low—that is to say, negative—population growth in 1919 was largely the result of the decimation caused by the Spanish flu pandemic. Between July 1918 and July 1919, U.S. population actually dropped by 60,000 people.”

How Much Is $2.3 Trillion? More Than Even Obama Could Imagine

“There is no more politics of fiscal prudence in America, just a competition to see who can wag the biggest firehose. While the bodies begin to pile up in New York City and elsewhere, Washington has responded with a massive course of experimental economics.”

U.S. Needs Billions of New Masks to Combat Coronavirus. Feds Say It’ll Take Up To 90 Days to Approve New Mask-Making Facilities.

“America is suffering from a shortage of almost everything it needs to combat the spread of COVID-19. Hospital beds, ventilators, gloves, and gowns are all in short supply.
That’s particularly true of the N95 masks that help medical professionals avoid catching and spreading the virus as they tend to patients. The N95 designation refers to the ability of these masks to filter out 95 percent of airborne particles.

In early March, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said that the country’s stockpile of N95 masks was enough to meet about 1 percent of the three billion masks we would need during a true pandemic.”

“government regulations are stifling the ability of manufacturers to set up new N95 mask production facilities—handicapping the private sector’s ability to respond to the current crisis.”

“The production of N95 masks is regulated by the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Prospective makers of N95 masks must submit detailed written applications to NOISH, and send finished products to its Personal Protective Technology Laboratory for testing. NIOSH staff must also personally inspect new manufacturing sites before they’re allowed to start pumping out masks.

Chisholm says regulators have told the Open PPE Project that getting agency approval could take anywhere from 45 to 90 days.”

“3M, one of the largest makers of N95 masks, says that it is producing 35 million respirators per month in the U.S. and that within 12 months it plans to double global production capacity to 2 billion masks a year. It also says it is exploring coalitions with other companies to expand mask production further.

Honeywell, another major mask manufacturer, claims it has more than doubled its mask production, according to The New York Times.

That’s a lot of masks, but nowhere near enough to meet the current demands of the country’s medical sector, let alone the demands of other essential workers and volunteers who are out in public right now, potentially dealing with sick people.”