Wednesday , April 29, 2020
Roy Charles Brooks
Rodney Ellis
Helen Holton
Executive Director
Dear Fellow County Commissioners ,

As we face the worst public health disaster in our lifetime, now more than ever is the time for us to govern our constituents with innovative approaches necessary to stop the spread of the deadly Coronavirus COVID-19. We all have tragically experienced critical crises such as hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts and floods that have affected thousands of constituents in our particular areas. But never have we had to contend with a pandemic that has impacted millions of people throughout all of our jurisdictions.

In addition to a health crisis, this disaster is causing unemployment, homelessness, hunger and other major issues. Since we are facing similar problems, let’s work together to find solutions to stop the virus spread as we also find answers to the catastrophic economic losses. Best practices must be shared while also sharing measures that didn’t work well. By sharing victories and defeats we will serve our constituents the best. Remember, we can’t stop this virus if we work in silos.
More importantly, we must make sure that testing centers are in our communities, especially for people of color and those who do not have insurance. When the federal dollars come to our areas, we have to make sure the funds are spent efficiently and equitably so that everyone, including people of color and low-income communities, can get treatment and economic relief for the unemployed and businesses that had to close.

Furthermore, despite opposition from some circles, we have to firmly support decisions such as stay home, work safe; compassionate jail release; bar closures; and no restaurant dine-in services. In essence, practicing social distancing is one way to halt the spread.

In an unrelated matter, reminding our constituents to participate in the 2020 Census is vital to future generations. As you are aware, census results impact planning and funding for health clinics and highways; fire departments and disaster response; education programs such as Pre-K and college tuition assistance; and so much more.

In these difficult times, we want to especially thank all of you for representing the people in your areas and for being members of this wonderful organization that also depends on your participation. Also, please be safe and keep the people in your areas safe.
Webinar: Wednesday, April 29, 2020, 1:30 - 2:15 p.m. EDT
How federal job vacancies hinder the government’s response to COVID-19

Vacant positions and high turnover across the federal bureaucracy have been a perpetual problem since President Trump was sworn into office. Upper-level Trump administration officials ( “the A Team” ) have experienced a turnover rate of 85 percent — much higher than any other administration in the past 40 years. The struggle to recruit and retain qualified candidates for key leadership positions in agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Council, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have resulted in disruptive leadership vacuums that hamper the government’s ability to plan for and react to crises. The consequences are now on full display as the administration struggles to respond to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the nation.
Viewers can submit questions for panelists by emailing  or via Twitter at  @BrookingsGov .
Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Governance Studies |  @kdtenpas
Anne Joseph O’Connell, Adelbert H. Sweet Professor of Law, Stanford University |  @AJosephOConnell
Benjamin Wittes, Editor-in-Chief, Lawfare, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Brookings |  @benjaminwittes

Stay up to date on Brookings events. Sign up for  event invitations by topic  and our  weekly events update .

This  Thursday, April 30, 2020  at  12:00pm , the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Inc. will be hosting its second Policy for the People Virtual Brain Trust session entitled, "Understanding the Economic Outcomes of COVID-19 & the Stimulus Package for Black America." The 2020 CARES Act has made history as the largest relief aid passed in the United States. This online panel will host Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama and other business experts to discuss the implications of the 2020 CARES Act in our communities. This conversation will address top concerns like is the CARES Act enough, how do we protect the most vulnerable, and what will recovery look like for our community. Please use this   link   to register to this dynamic conversation on  April 30th, 2020

PHILADELPHIA – April 27, 2020 –

As shelter in place continues to be the norm and schools remain closed across the country, Comcast announced today it will extend its commitments for Xfinity customers through June 30 to help ensure students can finish out the school year from home and remain connected to the internet during the COVID-19 crisis.

“These extended measures will continue to keep Americans safe and ensure that households are equipped for students to learn and stay informed at home as the nation copes with this unprecedented disruption to our daily lives.
Our services have never been more important, and we’re doing everything we can to keep people connected to the internet," said David Watson, Comcast Cable Chief Executive Officer

Originally announced on March 13, Comcast made the following commitments that will now be extended into the summer:

  • No Disconnects and Waiving Late Fees
We will not disconnect a customer’s Xfinity Internet, Xfinity Mobile, or Xfinity Voice service, and we will waive late fees if they contact us and let us know that they can’t pay their bills during this period. Our care teams are available to offer flexible payment options or help find other solutions.

  • Xfinity WiFi Free For Everyone
Xfinity WiFi hotspots in business and outdoor locations across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free – including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers. For a map of Xfinity WiFi hotspots, visit

  • Pausing Our Data Plan
With so many people working and educating from home, we want our customers to access the internet without thinking about data plans. While the vast majority of our customers do not come close to using 1TB of data in a month, we are pausing our data plans to give all customers unlimited data for no additional charge.

  • Internet Essentials Free to New Customers Now Through June 30
Internet Essentials is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program. We are extending our offer of 60 days of complimentary service for new customers through June 30. Internet Essentials is normally available to all qualified low-income households for $9.95/month. For more information, visit

.”For more information and updates from
Comcast related to Coronavirus, visit:

For More Information

FCC Pledge

Verizon voluntarily extended their commitment to the FCC Pledge until June 30th.

Under that Pledge we will neither terminate service nor charge late fees for residential and small business (50 lines or less) customers that notify them that they are unable to pay due to the pandemic. We were the first ISP to extend this FCC Pledge beyond the original May 13th deadline that all major ISPs agreed to at the start of the crisis. 

Verizon recognizes the need to extend this Pledge to ease the financial worries some of their customers are experiencing right now. We have attached an updated list of many other Covid-related activities Verizon has engaged in to support their customers, employees and society at large, especially healthcare workers.

UPDATE: Effective April 27:
Verizon is extending its commitment to keep their customers through June 30. This means they will neither terminate service nor charge late fees to their postpaid wireless, residential, and small business customers that notify them of their inability to pay their bills due to disruptions caused
by the coronavirus pandemic. Customers can notify them by visiting here:

Misstatements About 5G  

Regarding misinformation spreading throughout social media and linking the origins of Covid-19
to 5G, here are a few links that set the record straight. 

Please share them with your networks:

  • According to the WHO: “Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.  

  • According to the CDC: “Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and now with this new virus (named SARS-CoV-2)." 

According to a recent study, jail incarceration could cause 100,000 additional deaths from COVID-19. The very steps that are necessary to mitigate virus spread—including social distancing and proper hygiene—are effectively unavailable in detention facilities.

And because jails have constant churn into their communities, a COVID-19 outbreak within a jail will not stay there: ultimately, jail incarceration during COVID-19 puts all community members at risk.

Given these stakes, the following toolkit provides policy ideas on how counties can decarcerate their jails and otherwise minimize the harms of criminal-legal involvement during COVID-19.

These policy ideas will safeguard the public health of all community members. In addition, they give counties a crucial opportunity to begin imagining a new approach to public safety—one that minimizes the harms of our current system while taking us toward a more just and equitable society.

As millions have shifted to working and learning remotely, Charter’s employees have been working to ensure our customers stay connected during this crisis. We are proud to say that through their hard work, our networks have remained strong, even with a surge in usage. Our employees are our greatest resource, and we’re doing everything we can to protect them.

This commitment to our employees is why, in an email to our team, Charter CEO Tom Rutledge announced a further investment in our workforce by permanently raising our minimum wage for all employees to $20 per hour. The initial increase will be implemented immediately for frontline field technicians and customer service call center employees who are the face of our company to our nearly 30 million customers and who are providing critical services to our communities, emergency relief workers, and government entities. Those frontline hourly workers- regardless of current wage – will receive an immediate $1.50 per hour increase and subsequent increases so that in 2022 all current and future hourly employees will have a starting rate of $20 an hour or more.
CTIA and the wireless industry are launching the Connecting Kids Initiative to help simplify the process for school districts to find remote learning hotspot solutions. School leaders can connect with wireless providers  here , and more information can be found in our website link
Making Connections.     In just the past few weeks, the wireless industry is proud to have partnered with school districts across the country to connect hundreds of thousands of kids for the first time. We also know the job is far from done.  We have heard from school leaders and policymakers that some schools looking to set up remote learning solutions do not necessarily know where to go to figure out how to acquire hot spot devices and services to keep kids learning. 
The New Initiative.   On behalf of participating carriers (listed below), CTIA is launching a new clearinghouse-like function to give a simple tool for school districts to get connected with all of the participating carriers serving their community. Operators would then follow-up directly with the school districts if there is a good match.
The Wireless Industry Helping Kids.   This initiative is just the latest step from the wireless industry to support kids and schools, from supporting access to educational programs and teacher tools to new service enhancements to help kids learn from home. Find out more here
Edison Electric Institute (EEI) is the association that represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies. The member companies provide electricity for 220 million Americans, and operate in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

As a whole, the electric power industry supports more than 7 million jobs in communities across the United States. Employees within the member companies are engaged with American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) to serve as a resource for policy discussion of the economic, social and political impact of environmental and energy policies on African Americans and other minorities. 

This partnership ensures involvement of African Americans in governmental energy policy making by recommending capable sensitive and informed personnel to appropriate officials and to encourage both the public and private sectors to be responsive to the problems, goals and aspirations of African Americans in energy-related fields.

EEI Industry COVID-19 Response
EEI would like to share the first episode of the new  We Stand for Energy Podcast called  “The Current.”
The idea behind this conversation is to highlight the many ways that EEI companies are leading amid the COVID-19 crisis, particularly targeting some of the key audiences such as Governors, Mayors, State legislators, County Officials and civic organizations to let them know they are very engaged on the healthcare side of the response at the moment, but have an appetite for content. They are producing this series to meet those external customers where they are, which lives on the We Stand for Energy website’s  COVID-19 .
Here's their podcast:

No Menthol Sunday is right around the corner and we want to help you make this a stellar event for your faith-community--even while social distancing!

We've got ideas for your digital campaigns as well as some old-school hacks that can be used to spread awareness and keep you safe.

To get you started, here are a few things you will need

1. The NMS 2020 Toolkit:
This will give you everything you need including social media graphics, facts, and ideas for your community engagement. Download the full toolkit. Also, check out the complete resources page. You'll find the link to order fans (limited supply this year!)

2. 30-Day Planning Guide:
This one-pager takes the guesswork out of getting started. It outlines what to do from day one including pledging to participate, presenting to coalitions, and when to start pitching to local media. Download here.

3. COVID-Big Quit Graphics
Now, more than ever, it's time to help our community to quit smoking and vaping for good. Partner with us by posting these quit tips and campaign graphics!

Black Youth Census Week
The week of April 27-May 1st has been designated “Black Youth Census Week” by one of our partners The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP). The focus of this week is to bring awareness to Generation X (1965-80), Millennial's (1981-1996), and Generation Z (1997-present) about the importance of the Census in a way that is targeted directly at them. The reason for focusing on youth is because they are always disproportionality counted, especially young people of color. When people are not counted, the appropriate amount of resources and funding are not allocated to their communities. The proper allocation of the necessary funds would provide funding for schools, healthcare centers, recreation facilities, and jobs.

We will target youth in different ways through social media. Monday was designated as Tik-Tok
Monday where young people participated in the “Don’t Rush Challenge”, a viral video sensation, as a way to show youth how easy it is to fill out the Census form. Tuesday is “Wild N Out” on Census. The focus of this day is to flood social media with infographics about the Census and its importance.

Wednesday is “Spill the Tea Census” which will be a live-streamed discussion about the importance of black youth participating in the Census. This will be hosted via Zoom, but can always be watched via NCBCP’s Facebook page, Roland Martin's Unfiltered Facebook page, as well as Instagram and Twitter.

Thursday is “Celebrate the Diversity of Black Youth” Census Day where we will flood social media with infographics, targeting specific, diverse groups to be as inclusive as possible. We need everyone to be counted. The week ends on Friday with a Black Youth Vote DJ Live Take Over in which different DJ's play music while we share information about the Census. We will be sharing this information on all of NOBCO’s social media, follow us on Instagram at NOBCO1982, and on Facebook, and Twitter at NOBCO1982. Please use the following hashtags as you share our posts with your social communities. #countmeblack #countblackyouth #Census2020
There are more than 160,000 people with undiagnosed HIV in the United States. The COVID-19 epidemic has made it more difficult to access traditional places where testing is provided, such as clinic-based testing sites, community-based organizations, and healthcare settings. Yet, the benefits of knowing one’s HIV status continue, including improved health and prevention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages people at risk for HIV infection to get tested in ways that are in compliance with stay-at-home orders and social distancing practices, including self-testing. In many places, HIV testing that requires face-to-face contact has been scaled back or suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic response. CDC understands the challenge this creates for the public and for our partners. Health departments, community-based organizations, and other providers of clinical HIV testing services can expand their support for HIV self-testing services especially where  face-to-face  testing services have been disrupted.

HIV self-testing programs, using the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved home test, can supplement the HIV prevention efforts of health departments and community-based organizations. Health departments and community-based organizations are encouraged to provide residents of their service areas with self-test kits and have them shipped to their homes or other locations, and if the test is positive, information regarding linkage to care should be provided. This information is already included in the package insert for the FDA-approved self-test. If CDC funds are used to support self-testing services, CDC requires jurisdictions to report National HIV Prevention Program Monitoring & Evaluation data for the total number of test kits distributed as part of this program and the total number of people who received at least one test. Soon, CDC will publish detailed guidance for reporting jurisdictions specifying when, and how, to report these aggregate measures to CDC.

Your continued commitment to HIV prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic is appreciated. We will continue to work with you to develop and provide additional guidance, resources, and technical assistance to support this important work.