On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, a pandemic. Since then, COVID-19 has swept across the United States and around the world. The virus is devastating our communities—especially low-income communities of color and other vulnerable populations—and threatening not only public health, but also the economy, public safety, education, and more. Addressing the manifold damage of the virus requires immediate, aggressive action from local, state, and federal governments.

COVID-19 is shining a light on how our social safety net and emergency preparedness systems are unfair, under-resourced, and leaving far too many people behind. This pandemic creates an even greater crisis for individuals and families pushed to the margins of our communities. COVID-19 is exposing structural inequities that make its anticipated harms exponentially greater for these people. Because of this, Deep Center is advocating for just and equitable policies that will safeguard our community members who are already carrying more than their fair share of our nation’s challenges.

With this in mind, Deep Center is releasing Rapid Responses, New Realities: Deep Center COVID-19 Policy Recommendations, a strategic set of recommendations that meet the immediate needs created by COVID-19. This document also serves to guide policymakers, elected leaders, and the general public to seize this terrible moment and address the longstanding inequities COVID-19 has laid bare.

Rapid Responses, New Realities: Deep Center COVID-19 Policy Recommendations is a living document. Like our Facing COVID-19: Deep Center Mutual Aid Toolkit, a compilation of resources, policies, and practices designed to address the needs of those of us on the margins and because of the unprecedented nature of COVID, a living document allows for shifting and changing based on new information, recommendations acted upon, and progress made. 

As Georgia and many Southern states continue to reopen and attempt to get back to normal, we emphasize that there is no “back to normal.” For many communities, this instability has been normalized due to bad policy decisions. “Normal” must be redefined, with equity at the core. It is not too late to correct old policies and to enact new policies that could allow for equitable recovery. In a moment that feels fraught with the unknown, we demand that it’s time to imagine new ways, new systems, and new policies to allow our communities to thrive.