As many Americans stare down the end of their first month of social distancing, it’s clear that the toll of “stay at home” orders during the COVID-19 pandemic is much more than economic. The anxiety and fear that wash over us each day that we spend alone, away from friends, coworkers, and family, inflict their own kind of emotional damage. The cost of social isolation is a worthy cost in this case — staying home can quite literally save lives. But for some people, the advent of social isolation came long before the coronavirus. At the ACLU, we work with many communities that deal with the long term impacts of social isolation. People living with disabilities who often experience accessibility issues, people held in detention, and people imprisoned in solitary confinement, just to name a few.
Joining us today is Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University who understands the impacts of isolation and how we can mitigate them for both ourselves and others. We also spoke with a few people -- Anna Landre, TreShaun Pate, Jason Hernandez and Claire Goldberg -- who know a thing or two about social distancing. Their circumstances have made them familiar with isolation long before COVID-19.
Further episode reading:
COVID-19 Response: Shrink the Criminal Justice Footprint
As the coronavirus continues to spread across the country, the nation’s jails and prisons have become ripe breeding grounds for COVID-19. Millions of people who interact with our criminal justice system are at risk. Last weekend marked the first COVID-related death of an inmate and new reports show that the rate of infection in prisons is far higher than their surrounding areas, evidence of the urgent need for states and cities to jump into action. Some are responding to the crisis by beginning to release people in jails and prisons who the Center for Disease Control (the CDC) deem "high risk" for contracting the virus. Others, however, are refusing to budge, leaving advocates, former judges, and district attorneys to call for change. A new poll shows 63% of registered voters would like to see people released during the unfolding pandemic.
In this episode, you’ll hear from Lewis Conway, a National Campaign Strategist for the ACLU who has experienced incarceration, and also Udi Ofer, the ACLU’s Deputy National Political Director, on what prisons should be doing to prevent the spread of the virus.
To sign our petition to call for the release of prisoners during the COVID-19 crisis visit: https://action.aclu.org/petition/stop-spread-covid-19-free-elderly-and-sick-prisons-and-jails
How the ACLU is responding to COVID-19
With the recent spread of COVID-19 in the United States, we now face a public health emergency unlike any we’ve seen in our work at the ACLU. Across the country, schools are closed, employees are adapting to new work from home policies, and some state and local officials have even implemented “shelter in place” orders. At the ACLU, we work with a variety of vulnerable populations. COVID-19 brings new concerns to our daily fight to protect civil rights and liberties. For this episode, we spoke with three of our colleagues Dale Ho, Michael Tan, and Maria Morris who work on voting rights, immigration, and prison reform, respectively, to learn about how COVID-19 is affecting their work.
For more information on the ACLU's COVID-19 response visit: https://www.aclu.org/news/topic/covid-19-pandemic-response and follow us on Twitter: @aclu.
Megan Rapinoe on Gender Discrimination, Athlete Activism, and LGBTQ Equality
Megan Rapinoe is a superstar soccer player who has become a global icon for her breathtaking play, her purple/pink hair, and her bold activism. She’s a World Cup champion, Olympic gold medalist, and co-captain of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. She has also kneeled during the national anthem in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and others to protest police brutality and she’s spoken out in favor of many progressive causes. Now she and her national teammates are demanding equal pay with their male counterparts and they’ve taken the issue to court. She joined us remotely to discuss the latest with this important pay equity lawsuit, the roots of her activism, and what it’s like to score a game-winning goal in the World Cup final.
Stacey Abrams Wants to Make Your Vote Count
In 2018, Stacey Abrams ran for Governor of Georgia and lost by just 54,723 votes to Republican Brian Kemp, who was then serving as Georgia’s Secretary of State. Before Kemp entered the governor’s race, he purged 1.4 million voters and instituted many other policies to dissuade people from voting. It’s a story of the real-world impact of voter suppression. What happened in that race was egregious, but it was not unique. In the aftermath of the election, amidst calls for her to run for senate and even president, Stacey Abrams has devoted herself to voter protection. Now, with the presidential election underway, Abrams joins us on the podcast to share how her organization Fair Fight is educating, empowering, and motivating people to vote.