Over 10,000 COVID-19 Deaths in Georgia

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photo by Gloria Tatum

In Piedmont Park, a sea of white flags fly to memorialize the over ten thousand Georgians who have died of COVID-19 since this pandemic started in early 2020.  Local activists and COVID-19 survivors installed the flags that represent the heartbreaking human and economic impact that this pandemic and our government’s incompetence and neglectful response have had on local communities.   

Tim Franzen, one of the survivors of COVID, sets out flags to honor other Georgian who did not survive. Franzen got COVID in June and is still having problems, “I no longer have twenty-twenty eyesight and I struggle more with breathing that makes exercise more difficult.  Yet, I continue to test negative.  I want to be out here to support so many people who got COVID and did not make it. I’m not alone; there are millions all over the world that are called long haulers. I’m one of the lucky ones because I was not on a ventilator and I’m still alive,” Franzen tells the Streets of Atlanta. 

The white flag display was inspired by artist Suzanne Brennan Fistenberg, to provide a powerful visual representation to elevate the need for a real comprehensive government response for everyone in Georgia and across the country.

The government response to working-class people was for U.S. Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, to slammed the door shut on a family-sustaining relief package, while Senate Republicans blocked desperately needed medical and economic aid  

The latest stimulus bill for $900 billion passed by Congress gives individuals a $600 check but the Republican Senate would not increase that to $2,000 per adult because for the first time in decades these so-called “fiscal conservatives” are worried about the federal debt.

One reason we have a huge deficit is that decades of tax breaks favoring the ultra-rich and corporations enacted under Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Donald Trump which amounts to trillions of dollars in foregone government revenue. 

None to little of that tax break money “trickled down” to jobs for the working class, instead most went into the stock market, multi-million dollar homes, and yachts.

Now that we are in a deadly pandemic that’s killing thousands daily, working-class Americans are in desperate need of government assistance and could use some of those trillions that the wealthy did not pay. 

” We need real relief in this country if we are going to become whole again.  We can’t afford to lose a quarter of our community because our government is not prioritizing taking care of people.  We need leadership in Georgia and in the nation, and in Georgia, it has not been enough.” 

“We want to put a visual behind the human and economic cost of not only COVID but our leaders’ response to it. Today 1 in 4 Georgians face eviction as the housing moratorium is about to expire.  We have millions in the state that have no rent relief and small landlords that have not been able to collect rent for months,” Tim Franzen, with American Friends Service Committee, told the Streets of Atlanta.

The American people throughout this pandemic have suffered from callous indifference from Senate Republicans and homicidal neglect from PresidentTrump. The staggering COVID death toll can be placed at the feet of President Trump who is a virus spreader with his maskless rallies, endless lies about COVID, and kicks COVID responsibility down the road to the states. 

The pandemic has not only killed over 350 thousand Americans it has also exposed wealth concentration at the top where 1% own more than the bottom 80 percent, according to the World Inequality Database. The rich use their money to purchase political influence and power to ensure they continue to get richer while the working poor get poorer. 

If you are a wealthy member of the investor class you will make money off of this pandemic as the stock market goes up, especially those with inside information. If you are a working-class person living from paycheck to paycheck you are probably experiencing, unemployment, food insecurity, or facing eviction and homelessness.    

We seem to have returned to the depression era of the “roaring twenties” when the rich drank champagne and ate caviar while the rest of the country starved and lived in tents.

“We must move money and power away from destructive, toxic, harmful systems of exploitation and give every single family and person — Black, white, and brown — what they need to get and stay well,” Jeff Ordower of care.test.protect, a national organization fighting for COVID-19 supplies and relief, said at the memorial.

Currently, we have a Trump controlled Republican Senate that refuses to help ordinary people but always has handouts of tax cuts for Trump’s rich friends.  President Trump is laser-focused on trying to overthrow an election that he lost and not the COVID pandemic that kills both Democrats and Republicans. 

The groups sponsoring the white flag display are calling on the new Biden administration to get to work on a COVID relief package that meets the housing, food, healthcare and jobs needs of working class people.

A link to the Georgia Department of Public Health for more information on COVID with a chart of Georgia cases by county https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report

written by Gloria Tatum

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