Things That Matter

AOC And Chuck Schumer Announce Funeral Benefits For Covid-19 Deaths

More than 27 million people in the U.S. have tested positive for Covid-19 and more than 468,000 have died. The avoidable death toll has caused emotional and financial pain to hundreds of thousands of families across the country. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Chuck Schumer are teaming up to get people benefits to cover unexpected funeral costs.

Rep. AOC and Sen. Chuck Schumer are highlighting funeral benefits to reimburse the families of loved ones who died from Covid-19.

The U.S. government passed a Covid economic relief bill in December to offer some support to the struggling economy. The bill gave some relief to Americans, including $600 relief checks. The previous administration made a show of wanting $2,000 checks before allowing the $600 to go through. The Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan is fulfilling that promise by getting $1,400 checks to Americans to deliver the rest of that $2,000.

Another allocation in the package is $2 billion to reimburse people for some of the funeral costs for Covid victims. According to Bankrate, the average cost of a funeral is around $7,640. This is a tough amount of money for people to come up with without an economic crisis brought on by a pandemic.

Americans can apply for up to $7,000 in reimbursement to cover funeral costs because of Covid.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez understands the financial burden a sudden death in the family can cause. It is something that more than 400,000 families in the U.S. are dealing with as Covid continues to spread and kill thousands of people in the U.S. daily.

“I lost my Dad when I was about 18 years old, and the funeral expenses haunted and followed my family along with many other families in a similar position for years,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said at a news conference announcing the funds. “When you suddenly lose a loved one, you’re talking about an expense of four or five, seven, 10 thousand dollars.”

The benefits are retroactive to the beginning of the pandemic.

AOC is quick to respond on Twitter and confirmed that the funeral benefits are indeed retroactive to January 2020. This offers all families who lost a loved one last year to be eligible for a reimbursement of those funeral costs.

The death toll of Covid is expected to continue to climb as vaccines are rolling out and the race against variants is ongoing. Some new strains of the virus spread faster and there is still work to be done to see if they impact the effectiveness of current vaccines.

The money to cover the reimbursements has been allocated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The two New York politicians teamed up to make this possible with $260 million of those funds going to New Yorkers.

Communities of color are still facing a disproportionate share of the Covid burden.

According to a study by the American Heart Association, access to a hospital plays a big role in why communities of color are disproportionately impacted by Covid. One of the most glaring reasons for the devastation in non-white communities is that hospitals are predominately in white communities.

“Our findings suggest that in order to address disparities in the burden of COVID-19 among vulnerable patient groups, we must focus on structural reasons for the higher rates of viral transmission and hospitalizations for Black and Hispanic patients,” Dr. Fatima Rodriguez, lead author of the study, which was funded by the AHA, said in a statement.

READ: Maluma Invited Fans To A Meet And Greet But Now It’s Being Called A Covid-19 Super Spreader Event

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Chingona 105-Year-Old Abuela Says She Survived Spanish Flu, 3 Husbands, And COVID-19 By Eating Gin-Soaked Raisins

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Chingona 105-Year-Old Abuela Says She Survived Spanish Flu, 3 Husbands, And COVID-19 By Eating Gin-Soaked Raisins

REDA&CO / Getty

For Lucia DeClerck, nine gin-soaked raisins have kept doctors and pandemics away. The grandmother of 11 great-great-grandchildren celebrated her 105th birthday on January 25 in Mystic Meadows Rehab and Nursing Center in Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey.

That same day she was diagnosed with Covid-19.

Staff members at her nursing center say DeClerck was pretty much asymptomatic and was in the facility’s COVID-19 unit for 14 days.

Now a COVID-19 survivor, DeClerck is the oldest person at her nursing home, according to The New York Times, and has survived two pandemics. DeClerck was born in 1916 in Hawaii to parents who came from Guatemala and Spain. She was two years old and living in Hawaii when the Spanish flu broke out. Since that time, she has survived two world wars, survived three husbands, and one out of her three sons. 

“She’s just been open with everything in life and I think that has really helped her because she hasn’t hesitated to do whatever she’s wanted to do,” DeClerck’s son, Henry Laws III, told CBS Philly in an interview.

Speaking about her secret to longevity, DeClerck says it takes equal parts belief and diet.

“Pray, pray, pray. And don’t eat junk food,” she told the New York Times before going on to explain that the nine gin-soaked golden raisins she eats every morning might have helped in her survival.

According to DeClerck she has eaten the special recipe every morning for most of her life.

“Fill a jar,” she explained giving NYT her recipe. “Nine raisins a day after it sits for nine days.” The New York Times describes her diet as being a part of a ritual that her children and grandchildren chalk up to being just one in the entirety of “endearing lifelong habits, like drinking aloe juice straight from the container and brushing her teeth with baking soda. (That worked, too: She did not have a cavity until she was 99, relatives said.)”

“She is just the epitome of perseverance,” DeClerck’s 53-year-old granddaughter, Shawn Laws O’Neil explained. “Her mind is so sharp. She will remember things when I was a kid that I don’t even remember.”

Ms. DeClerck, tested positive for the virus on her 105th birthday, just one day after she had gotten her second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“At first, she said she was scared. She did not like being isolated, and she missed the daily chatter from the parade of caregivers at Mystic Meadows Rehabilitation and Nursing, a 120-bed facility in Little Egg Harbor,” reports the New York Times. “Within two weeks she was back in her room, holding her rosary beads and wearing her trademark sunglasses and knit hat.”

According to O’Neil, DeClerck has a new nickname amongst her two surviving sons, five grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and 11 great-great-grandchildren: “The 105-year-old badass who kicked Covid.”

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Gov. Newsom And California Lawmakers Unveil Stimulus Checks, Relief For Undocumented Residents

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Gov. Newsom And California Lawmakers Unveil Stimulus Checks, Relief For Undocumented Residents

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Americans are still waiting for the $1,400 check from the federal government to make good on the $2,000 promise In the meantime, some Californians will get extra help from the state government. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a $9.6 billion stimulus package for state residents and undocumented people.

Low-income Californians will be eligible for a $600 stimulus check from the state government.

Gov. Newsom and California lawmakers have agreed on a $9.6 billion relief package for the Golden State. The relief package is offering much needed relief to businesses, individuals, and students. The relief will come to Californians in different ways.

According to a statement, the package is making good on the promise to help low-income Californians, increase small business aid, and waive license renewal fees for businesses impacted by the pandemic. In addition, the package “provides tax relief for businesses, commits additional resources for critical child care services and funds emergency financial aid for community college students.”

The relief package is aimed at helping those who are hardest hit by the pandemic.

“As we continue to fight the pandemic and recover, I’m grateful for the Legislature’s partnership to provide urgent relief and support for California families and small businesses where it’s needed most,” Gov. Newsom said in a statement. “From child care, relief for small business owners, direct cash support to individuals, financial aid for community college students and more, these actions are critical for millions of Californians who embody the resilience of the California spirit.”

The package will quadruple the assistance to restaurants and small businesses in California. Small businesses and restaurants will be eligible for $25,000 in grants from a $2 billion fund.

Undocumented Californians will also receive a boost from the state government.

Low-income Californians will receive a one-time payment of $600 while undocumented people will be given a $600 boost. The money will be sent to tax-paying undocumented people in California.

According to the California Budget & Policy Center, undocumented people in California pay $3 billion a year in local and state taxes. Despite paying taxes, the undocumented community has not been ineligible for relief payments from the federal government. These payments will give needed relief to a community overlooked throughout the pandemic.

“We’re nearly a year into this pandemic, and millions of Californians continue to feel the impact on their wallets and bottom lines. Businesses are struggling. People are having a hard time making ends meet. This agreement builds on Governor Newsom’s proposal and in many ways, enhances it so that we can provide the kind of immediate emergency relief that families and small businesses desperately need right now,” Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins said in a statement. “People are hungry and hurting, and businesses our communities have loved for decades are at risk of closing their doors. We are at a critical moment, and I’m proud we were able to come together to get Californians some needed relief.”

Learn more about the relief package by clicking here.

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