Coronavirus Opinion Politics

How can Chester City coronavirus communications reach more citizens?

If there were ever a time to hear from government, it is during this coronavirus pandemic. Whether you like him or not, it’s easy to hear from President Trump and the national response to the coronavirus scare, but it takes a little effort and direction to hear from your county and city leaders.
In the olden days, everyone would be following the county updates in the Delaware County Times newspaper, but how many of you purchased a newspaper today? – I’ll wait.
For those of us stuck at home, it’s easy to turn on the local news, but that’s out of Philadelphia and doesn’t focus on your neighborhood exclusively. If you know the websites to visit on the internet, you can get some great local information, but there’s those who don’t know the sites to visit and others with no internet access.
Since there’s no single communications channel that everyone tunes into, the strategy to reach the masses has to be multi-prong. Here’s what I’d suggest. I’d love to get your input.

  • On Xfinity/Comcast cable channel 5 is Government Access Programming. A video summery of the coronavirus daily briefing from the mayor, director of the bureau of health, or the emergency response coordinator can be shown and repeated throughout the day for homes with Comcast to view at their convenience.
  • Add video and audio summery of the coronavirus daily briefing to the city website.
  • Create a podcast or Soundcloud link for people to download the daily coronavirus briefing.
  • Create a YouTube channel to post the daily coronavirus briefing videos.
  • Make arrangements with a few Chester folks with large Facebook followings to post city issued coronavirus press releases and daily coronavirus briefings. Some suggested people would be: Fred Green, Cory Long, Tedd Miller, Millz Qua, YesGod. If Chester City communications were fanned out by each of these five Facebook users, it would reach most of the people in the city who use Facebook regularly.  I see the city ‘tagging’ certain people when they send communications from their Facebook site, but some people hate being in large group ‘tags’ and they’re still only reaching a small group of people.
  • Treat it like it’s campaign season and put up lawn signs, posters, knock on doors, and ride around the street with a megaphone and a fire truck. It’s time to pull out all the stops and do anything to get people’s attention on this coronavirus thing.

I only bring all this up because I spoke to 5-people and asked if they have seen any updates on the city’s daily coronavirus briefings, the state of emergency declaration, or the intent to ask for COVID-19 testing letter sent by the mayor today. I won’t share the results but I took the time to write this post because ‘we can do better.’

Coronavirus Education Opinion

Coronavirus exposes America’s fake equal education doctrine

When schools in Japan closed due to the coronavirus, I joked that students in America finally have a chance to catch up. Now that schools in America are closed, we’re seeing how much further behind students from poor school districts are becoming compared to students from rich school districts.
I know I’m going to sound like a broken record, but until we combine school districts to allow all students an equal opportunity to learn, situations like this will make it worse for the children on the low rung of the educational ladder.
My sister lives exactly 6.6 miles from me and you’d think she was on another planet when it comes to the education her children receive versus children in Chester. Someone from her school district knocked on her door last week to deliver 2-laptops and 1-iPad for my nieces and nephew to conduct their online learning while sequestered at home. Here in Chester, school is out, that’s it, period!
Two things I know for certain: 1) You can’t turn a brick and mortar school into a cyber school overnight; and 2) You can’t turn a parent that doesn’t check homework into a parent that conducts homeschooling.
Folks are mad at the Philadelphia school district for telling schools to just stop trying to make these kids study while out of school. Their logic is, if every student doesn’t have the resources to learn from home, than nobody will be required to learn from home.
This doesn’t mean students shouldn’t be learning from home if they have the resources like a parent to facilitate learning; some learning materials like books, paper, and #2 pencils; internet access and learning devices that connect to the internet, etc. Philly said teachers are no longer responsible for tracking, grading, or making sure students have any curriculum to follow while out of school..
I’m not mad at the Philadelphia school district or Chester-Upland. These school districts are so far behind in offering any type of learning outside the classroom that it makes no sense to try to patch something together now. They have a hard enough time getting any learning done on a normal day in the classroom.
To keep all students on an imaginary even keel, you’d think the U.S. Department of Education would use the same logic as Philadelphia based on how not all students across the country have equal access to learning resources at home. So, let’s everyone stop trying to learn until we get back to school.
Why should rich school district kids get an advantage over poor districts just because they can keep learning? Aren’t we leaving the least of our students behind even further? Is that the plan? I’m sure there’s no plan, but it sure exacerbates the existence of have-and-have-nots when it comes to education in America.
Even if we took baby steps, what harm would occur if the school district my nieces and nephew attends allowed just 3 students from Chester in each grade from 1st to 12th? Just like Chester-Upland pays for students to attend failing charter schools in Chester, they will pay for students to attend the good school district 6.6 miles away?
I know that’s too logical. Our country, county, and cities would rather entire school districts stop teaching all together while their ‘other’ students continue learning every day.
Sometimes I just hate how badly we behave in this society. Race and class discrimination hurts us all, and when it comes to education, why would a society not want all their citizens as educated as possible?
I know I can’t be the only one who agrees.

Coronavirus Opinion

Please don’t let a dog die of coronavirus in America

I knew my buddy was lying when he told me a dog died of coronavirus. I haven’t been locked into the TV these past couple days and if they did announce a dog dying, I probably did miss it.
I looked it up on the undefeated internet, and low and behold, a dog did die in Hong Kong from what is believed to be caused by the coronavirus.
Apparently, the dog got sick, the owner – who did have Covid-19 – took the dog to the vet where he was tested and found to have Covid-19, too. They put the dog in quarantine for a few days and after two positive tests 24-hours apart, they felt the dog was safe to go home where he died a couple days later. The owner refused to allow the dog to be autopsied, but it’s believed to be the first case of a human-to-animal transfer of coronavirus.
Lawd have mercy if a dog dies in America from coronavirus. The country will go bonkers. People, especially white people, love their dogs. To think that a dog could get the coronavirus and actually get tested blows my mind but I could see it happening in America. And then to administer two more tests before sending the dog home is outrageous but probably perfectly alright for dog lovers.
It’s not that I don’t like dogs. I love seeing people enjoy their dogs. I just don’t want one. Dog’s know I don’t have a clue what to do when they’re around. I don’t know if I should pet them or hide from them. I’d never be mean to a dog but I ain’t trying to be their friend either.
Here comes the racial part for those of you who’d prefer to stop reading now.
If they are giving coronavirus tests to a dog, that probably means one less poor black person will have a test available to them with the scarcity of test kits in America. Maybe Hong Kong has enough test kits left over that they can afford to use a few on the infected canine population. We obviously haven’t gotten to that point here in America.
Don’t let me hear a dog got a coronavirus test in the USA. Who knows, they’ll probably try to blame Michael Vick for that, too.

Coronavirus Faith Opinion

How social distancing and church attendance butt heads during the coronavirus

I spoke to a man today who is a Baptist deacon and loves church. You can count on him being there every Sunday and at least one other time during the week.
His church had service last Sunday and he didn’t go. His wife, who always joins him in church, choose to go because she was scheduled to usher. Needless to say, they had a tense moment with each other as she went alone and he heeded the call to social distance himself from the congregation.
I’m sure many others are struggling with their religious rituals in light of the coronavirus. As Christians are prone to say, ‘What would Jesus do?’
I’ve stumbled on a couple sermons this week where preachers are reassuring their congregations through the gospel. On the one hand, I get it. Folks need to build up their faith and control their worry. On the other hand, there’s a real pandemic floating in the air and if you really asked What Would Jesus Do, you’re left to wonder if he’d lunge headfirst into harm’s way.
I’ve been receiving a ton a emails from folks who never emailed me before. It’s likely due to my abundance of coronavirus blog posts when I consider their content.
Today, I received an email that I consider a sermon and it is good. The sender is a complete stranger and offered no explanation why they sent it to me or what they wanted me to do with it, but it is so good, I’m sharing it here.
Hopefully, it will help Christians sort out their rituals during this pandemic scare.

A Christian Moral and Theological Case for Social Distancing

By Reverend Rob Schenck
When several public figures in my evangelical community defied government and private sector calls to avoid group gatherings, I was offended and broken-hearted. Caring people should be willing to endure disappointment and inconveniences to protect others from suffering and death when a highly contagious disease threatens the lives of the most vulnerable members of our society. I dare say, in the days of Covid-19, we must not only be willing, but we must be obedient to the central commands of our Christian faith—one of which is to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we don’t want to get Covid-19, we shouldn’t do anything that increases someone else’s potential for getting it.
To my brothers and sisters in Christ and fellow ministers, the widely made recommendation for social distancing and cancellation of group activities—and in some instances, official orders to do so—are not principally about you but about others. Maybe you don’t believe you’ll get sick, or, that if you do, it’ll be nothing worse than the flu, but those presuppositions are all about you and how you perceive or experience this contagion. Maybe you think the alarm raised over the novel coronavirus is overblown or politically ginned up—but those conclusions are, again, all about you. The concern for social distancing is about much more than you—it’s about others who are vulnerable to devastating illness and even death.
The well-being of others is not a game of math. Every single human life is precious, every person is of equal worth with another, and all avoidable suffering and death is a tragedy—whether it involves one or one million. At the core of the gospel is this question asked by Jesus, “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:12,14) How dare we not be concerned with a few when God is supremely concerned with just one?
St. Paul admonished the Philippian believers to, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourself.” (Philippians 2:3) This public health emergency is a time for all of us to ask very deep and prayerful questions about our true motives. As much as anyone else, I hate the closure of churches, the cancellation of prayer meetings, the postponement of fellowship gatherings. For over 40 years, these have been the spiritual and social mainstays of my life. I enjoy church and everything that goes on around it immensely—but again, this is not about me. Churches are very touchy-feely places where people not only shake lots of hands, but we hug, kiss, and form hand-in-hand circles! And if you’re from Pentecostal roots, as I am, just take a look at the saliva spray on the pulpit after one of we vociferous preachers is done preaching! When a killer contagion is aloft, we’re downright dangerous! There are times when Jesus’ second great commandment, love of neighbor, requires we lay down our own preferences, pleasures and even needs for the sake of others. After all, Jesus defined the demonstration of true filial love as much more than enduring inconvenience and loneliness, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
Finally, there are those among our evangelical family who believe this whole national drama surrounding Covid-19 is cooked up by liberal politicians and media for their electoral advantage. (Of course, that doesn’t explain why other countries are afflicted in far worse ways than we are, but that’s a different discussion.) While I’m not convinced of this claim, for the sake of argument, I’ll allow for it. Let’s just say all the clamor has been cooked up—but how does that change any of our moral and spiritual obligations to the other person? The fact is people are getting sick—very sick—and some are dying. No matter what the true origin or scale of this threat, it is inflicting pain, suffering, and loss of life. We must be willing to do all we can to spare just one, two, or a few of such agony.  This is not a time to make self-centered claims of our First Amendment rights, but to engage in acts of self-denial so that others can be safe, the sick can recover, and lives can be preserved.
Jesus, the “author and finisher of our faith,” illustrated for us what we’re to do in days like these. Though He was entitled to every good thing in the universe, nonetheless, of His own will, “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant . . .” (Philippians 2:7) Servants do what they are asked to do. All of us have been asked to put aside our normal routines, our preferred social habits, and even our forms of corporate worship to spare others the fear and anguish that comes with Covid-19. Complying with that ask—by our family members, friends, neighbors, fellow citizens, and the whole of humanity—seems a small thing to do in light of the threat of Covid-19. I believe social distancing—or as one church leader has more accurately put it, “physical distancing”–is a moral and theological imperative for all religious believers, but especially for followers of Christ, who, He said, “ . . . must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)
In this strange and dangerous time, let’s follow the example of our Lord by denying ourselves for the sake of others.
Rev. Rob Schenck is an evangelical minister, president of The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute in Washington, DC , and a national advocate for sensible gun regulation. His work in featured in Abigail Disney’s Emmy Award winning documentary, The Armor of Light, an examination of the embrace of popular gun culture by American evangelicals. Rev. Schenck is also the author of a memoir, Costly Grace: An Evangelical Minister’s Rediscovery of Faith, Hope and Love (HarperCollins, 2018).

Coronavirus Opinion

The Coronavirus Law of Relativity

I was good at physics but could never understand Einstein’s Law of Relativity. Einstein’s theory of relativity states that time and space are not as constant as everyday life would suggest. Oh, how that applies today.
If you listen carefully to the experts talk about the spread of the coronavirus, some have said things like, what you see today is a result of two weeks ago. It’s sort of hard to comprehend just like Einstein’s theories.
Those physics problems had my head spinning trying to figure out what time period I’m in if I travelled far away in space at such a large rate of speed. Listen, I have a hard enough time on New Years Eve understanding how I’m watching the ball drop in Australia when it’s still daylight outside where I am.
Coronavirus has its own relativity. Actions not taken two weeks ago leaves you in the situation you’re in today, and actions not taken today results in worse outcomes two weeks down the line.
What confuses many of us is seeing how things are being shut down around us and nobody looks sick. That’s the same way I felt in school when, in my mind, the time in space should be the identical time I see on my watch. Why does science say that’s not so?
If it helps anyone, treat coronavirus relativity like a weather map. We’ve all seen how the weather systems move from one part of the county to the other, and with pretty good accuracy, the weather lady can tell you exactly when it’s going to rain in your city and how many inches we’re going to get.
Right now, take a look at Italy and Iran. See what’s going on with coronavirus over there. Their government treated the virus just like we’re treating it around here.
In school, I asked the professor to help me understand relativity but it didn’t do any good. In America, the professor is sitting right over there in China and South Korea, but we would rather not ask them for help despite the evidence on how well their response to coronavirus has been.
So, we’ll just sit and wait for the storm to blow through from Italy and Iran and see how much rain we get. No matter what, a lot of us gonna get wet.

Community News Coronavirus Opinion Politics

Chester City steps up website with a coronavirus link

With God as my witness, I was on the phone last night with a guy venting about the City of Chester’s website. For the life of me, I can’t understand why parking meter rates is still on the home page and there’s nothing on the city’s coronavirus guidance and leadership for this community. I even heard they’re still issuing parking tickets. I hope that’s not true.
Before I was going to finally write a blog post about their horrible website, they have added a banner on the top the page ‘Click Here for all coronavirus updates.’
I clicked, and there’s not much there coming directly from city officials, but they wisely are tapping into Delaware County content which is great and should be shared. Also, there is an extensive list of resources from the Center for Disease Control and the PA Health Department.
As I vented last night on the phone, we came up with what we’d expect to see on the City of Chester website home page that is specific to Chester residents:

  • Where to find food
  • Where to get tested if you’re sick
  • Simple explanation of the city’s State of Emergency
  • School district updates
  • Police policy during the crisis period
  • Shut-off policies from utilities
  • A link to Chester Matters Blog who is dedicating all coverage to ‘Covid-19 While Black’
  • A direct message from the mayor letting us know he’s still in town and cares about us since we haven’t heard a thing from him up to this point.

If you’ve never connected to the City of Chester website, this is the time to do so. If you don’t have internet access or a smart phone, I don’t know what their alternative methods to communicate coronavirus updates to you.
How Chester manages the coronavirus will be so different and so much more difficult than other communities around here. We have a large portion of our population under the poverty line. We have a large number of senior citizens living on top of each other in 7-senior living facilities. We have a larger than average population of people existing with chronic illnesses, many of them respiratory in nature. And we’re mostly Black which usually means we’re not going to be on the top of the list of help and resources when the Hunger Games get real.
We need to be over-communicated to at this point. We’re going to get hit hard. I need to see a lot more out of city government.

The squeaky wheel get’s the test kits.

Is Livia Smith, Director of Chester’s Health Services, banging on the doors of Delaware County council begging them to make sure they include Chester in coronavirus testing? Radnor is testing people in the street with coronavirus test kits and Chester hasn’t taken a single temperature.
City government, this is your time to shine. The ball is in your court. Show us what you got. As you all are so prone to say, ‘We can do better.’ The time for talk is over. Do better now. This is a life or death situation for many of us around here.
Step up NOW!

Community News Coronavirus Opinion Politics

Delaware County Council is putting in that work on coronavirus

The Delaware County Council people are kicking ass on this coronavirus issue. Not a day goes by where they haven’t made a significant contribution to addressing this pandemic head on. They’ve been issuing warnings, produce daily updates, populated extensive virus related content on their website, and made themselves available to the press.

As if all that isn’t enough, their biggest and most impressive success is getting the governor to approve a cooperative agreement that allows our neighbors over in Chester County to provide COVID-19 health services to us Delaware County residents.

As the Beatles were fond of saying…

You can feel his disease.
Come together, right now
Over me

Under the agreement, Chester County will provide us such services as

  • COVID-19 expanded testing,
  • COVID-19 case investigation and surveillance,
  • COVID-19 quarantine designations,
  • COVID-19 public health communication,
  • Daily monitoring of emergency room volume and hospitals in Delaware County
  • A public call center.

This is government at its best. You just don’t come up with these type of solutions in a vacuum. There is no policy manual or playbook to call on that gets you these type of results in this short amount of time. This partnership purely demonstrates what dedicated, concerned, smart, committed public servants do when the right team is in place.
Someone brought to my attention yesterday how they understood the need for our county to have its own health department but was tiring of hearing and reading what appears to be ‘politicking’ over the issue from our county council people in particular. Sure, the former administration avoided creating a county health department, but I don’t this these current council people are harping on that issue as much as the press is reporting about it, editorializing about it, and printing guest views about it. Hopefully we will read less about it because it’s definitely not important anymore now that our county council people delivered on a health department for Delaware County, albeit a temporary one that we’ll rent to get us through this crisis.

“Once we are through this, I will encourage all the residents of Delaware County to give a hug, a high five or a fist bump to the residents of Chester County,” Zidek said, in addition to thanking the county employees in Media.

Yo, Brian. Before we head down Rt. 1 to hug on Chester County folks, I encourage all the residents of Delaware County to at least send you guys a note of thanks, add y’all to our Christmas Cards lists, or spot you a brew down at Larimer Brewery before a Philadelphia Union soccer game.
Great Work!

At another juncture, expect to hear me rail on how these same type of agreements need to be made between failing school districts and good school districts within the county – but that’s not for another day.

Coronavirus Family Health & Fitness Opinion

How to ration food with hungry kids?

I’m absolutely not providing advice on this one. I’m counting on those of you who are stuck at home with several mouths to feed to help one another learn how to stretch the food you have on hand.
One thing I know for sure, I want to eat a whole lot more when I’m home all day than when I’m running these streets. During these time when I definitely have a lot more food in the house than normal, it’s taking some deliberate self-discipline to not stuff my face all day long. Thankfully, the one thing I gave up for Lent is pastry. Otherwise, I’d be scarfing down a daily Phatso’s doughnut in the morning, sliding a tasty dessert along with lunch, and justifying a cookie or two for a night time snack.
Kids know nothing about self-discipline. All they know is there’s food in the house and they should be eating it. Now that they’re home all day, unless you put a lock on the cabinet and refrigerator, you could find a week’s worth of groceries annihilated in days.
And then there’s those of us who aren’t stocked up with food. We may have lost our only source of income in the past week or so and have no money coming in to replenish. I believe Washington, D.C. have heard from a lot of you and that’s why they’re pushing to get money in the mail as fast as possible. Without it, anarchy can set in quickly.
Schools tend to believe they’re only going to be out for another week, but please be prepared for a much longer hiatus. Those free lunches everyone has been providing may dry up soon. Some reports show that in the first few days, not much of the free food was given to the people they thought would come for it. Why? Because they probably had a little food at home to get by.
Our biggest food insecurity issue will occur starting next week and get progressively worse the longer this state of emergency goes on. If you have food you are looking to give away, hold on to it for a little while. It won’t be long before many of the other ‘flash-in-the-pan’ food give aways will be done and you’ll be there to fill the gaps.
I’m reminded of a lady who had a newborn child who said it’s so nice when people give you all those newborn diapers. But, where are they when the baby is nine months old and is still in need of diapers long after the tiny ones run out?
I can’t imagine what some households are going through now for food, and we’re less than a week into the shutdown. Stores are starting to restock from the initial surge and the lines are gone around here. I can’t imagine everyone is stocked up to the gills. I can imagine that despite there being food back on the shelves in the stores, food is running out on the shelves at home along with the money to continue to feed your family in the manner they’re use to.
What can we do to help our neighbors, family members, and friends? Will the government check get to everyone on time with enough money to make a difference? How many people will be giving away free food in two weeks?
These are difficult times that may get a lot more difficult sooner than we anticipate.
What’s your suggestions?

Coronavirus Health & Fitness Opinion

My Coronavirus Survival Kit

A lady clerk at the check-out line said if she gets the coronavirus and dies, it was her turn. The way she said it didn’t indicate she wasn’t taking precautions, but she has resigned herself not to worry.
There’s probably something there for those who are anxious about what’s to come in the next days and weeks as we will likely see an uptick in folks affected and the sad reality that folks are going to die here like they’re dying all across the globe.
The good news is the reported percentage of folks who survive the virus is greater than the number of people who die, if that’s any consolation.
Considering the conservative number of people who will come down with the virus is 40% of the population, a lot of folks are going to be sick for a week or two. Dry cough, fever, body aches, and a runny nose is a pretty sure sign you got it and whatever over the counter meds you’re accustomed to taking may provide some relief. Of course, you should call your doctor to get professional advice and if prescribed medicines, make sure you ask if those over the counter remedies are still safe to take.
The coronavirus takes a more serious turn if you get pneumonia type symptoms. If you have difficulty breathing, it may require a trip to the hospital. Otherwise, avoid the hospital at all costs. It’s the most unsafe place to be right now.
Coronavirus Survial Kit
Here is my collection of coronavirus combatants: Rubber gloves, cough drops, a thermometer, hand sanitizer, bar soap, liquid cough medicine, a couple boxes of tissue, disinfectant spray and disinfectant liquid cleaner. It’s not a lot, but I hope it’s enough.
In the cabinets and ‘ice-box’ are easy to prepare foods that don’t require a Rachel Ray cookbook to complete. Oh, I do have a few rolls of toilet paper, too.
Hopefully, if the virus hits me, I can survive with these supplies and sweat it out in self-quarantine doing a lot of Netflix-and-chill.

Coronavirus Opinion

The Un-United States of America needs Black parents to run coronavirus policy?

Black folks in Chester, PA are in a state of emergency as young Black folks are partying at spring break in Miami.

If I’m a young person in Chester who can’t even sit at a bar and have a beer, how do you think I feel seeing thousands of scantily clad young Black people binge drinking, dancing and beaching in Florida?