Sunday, December 5, 2021

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A new report shows, despite getting billions under the American Rescue Plan, many airlines continue to disrupt travelers' plans with cancellations, and Congress averts a government shutdown for now.

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U.S. House passes a stopgap government funding bill; the Omicron variant is found in Minnesota; Biden administration revives the "Remain in Mexico" policy; and the Bidens light the National Christmas Tree.

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Seniors in non-urban areas struggle with hunger disproportionately; rural communities make a push for federal money; and Planned Parenthood takes a case to the Montana Supreme Court.

Report: Biden Policies Could Correct Historic Inequities in Northern VA

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Monday, November 22, 2021   

RICHMOND, VA - An affluent area of Virginia blocked communities of color from accessing basic needs for generations, according to a new report, which said the result harmed those residents' health and concentrated wealth among whites.

The study examines policies over 400 years to show how segregation and laws preventing homeownership, equal education and fair employment combined to create a 17-year gap in life expectancy for people of color in Northern Virginia.

Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, said one motivation for the study was to learn from history.

"There's a common narrative that people often jump to, which is that 'problem neighborhoods' are the results of the choices of the people who live there," Woolf explained. "Rather than an understanding that they came to be through historic policies that segregated people and excluded them from being able to live elsewhere."

He noted the report, released jointly with the Northern Virginia Health Foundation, comes just as the U.S. House approved President Joe Biden's Build Back Better plan, which includes policies to help close gaps, such as parental leave, more affordable housing and postsecondary education.

Woolf pointed out after slavery, Jim Crow laws like racial covenants and redlining kept African Americans in Northern Virginia out of wealthier neighborhoods with better schools and better access to health services. Instead, they live in what he calls "islands of disadvantage," with harsh living conditions taking years off their lives and leaving them more vulnerable during the pandemic.

"These areas that are already known to have health disadvantages are often more vulnerable to a pandemic, to severe weather events, to climate change and so forth," Woolf pointed out. "It's the same areas that are the hotspots."

The report recommends Virginia lawmakers pass policies to help make up for the lasting impact of the past, including widening educational opportunities from preschool through college, creating jobs with wages that keep up with inflation, and better access to health care.


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