Despite the standard global response for pandemics being coordinated at a federal level, the Trump administration has abdicated its responsibility to states. Since most Black people live in states with Republican governors who rushed to “reopen” their states while infections and deaths are still increasing, Black folks need as much information as possible to ensure our lives are valued more than the desire to utilize them for profits.

States pay for unemployment benefits in the time of an emergency. If they declare there is no emergency, they don’t have to pay those benefits. Since only one out of five Black folks has the capacity to work from home and is considered an essential worker, what does “return” mean to us?

For those of us who are currently still holding the economy together and going to work, the return will be more focused on events like funerals and weddings and activities like going to the gym. If you work in these industries, we should not ask you to return to work until we have decreasing cases and testing for all who need and desire testing.

For those of us who have the luxury to work from home at this time, our return to work should not force harm on others.

Here to discuss are Joia Crear-Perry, M.D., principal at Health Equity Cypher; Shavon Arline-Bradley, principal at Health Equity Cypher; L. Toni Lewis, M.D., principal at Health Equity Cypher; and Aletha Maybank, M.D., M.P.H., chief Health Equity Officer at AMA.

ESSENCE is committed to bringing our audience the latest facts about COVID-19 (coronavirus). Our content team is closely monitoring the developing details surrounding the virus via official sources and health care experts, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Please continue to refresh ESSENCE’s informational hub for updates on COVID-19, as well as for tips on taking care of yourselves, your families and your communities.

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