Ronald Pagnucco, CMCEO Chair
Jama Alimad, CMCEO Board Member
Theodor Gordon, CMCEO Board Member
Kathy Langer, CMCEO Board Member
Ibrahim Abdullahi, CMCEO Board Member
Jon Armajani, CMCEO Board Member
Jane Leitzman, CMCEO Board Member
Abdirizak Jama, CMCEO Board Affiliate
Shirwa Adan, CMCEO Executive Director
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 216,000 Americans have died and almost 8 million Americans have been infected. Public-health guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health outline clear steps, including social distancing and face masks, that control the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, these guidelines became politicized, resulting in the continued uncontrolled spread, further imperiling the health of our communities. The Central Minnesota Community Empowerment Organization urges strict adherence to all public-health guidelines. Controlling the spread is a matter of public health and human dignity.
According to the APM Research Lab, 1 in 1,000 Black Americans died in just the first six months of the pandemic, compared to 1 in 2,100 White Americans. Structural inequities, including unequal access to health care and a disproportionate number of racial minorities in front-line jobs, has exacerbated the risk for Black Americans and other minorities. CMCEO recognizes a strong public-health response to the pandemic will help protect every American and stop the acceleration of racial inequities.
Unfortunately, prominent elected officials and candidates have undermined public health guidelines. One of the most shameful examples came from St. Cloud city councilman Paul Brandmire, the current Republican nominee for state Senate District 14B. During a July 20th city council meeting, Brandmire compared the mask ordinance to the Holocaust, claiming it could lead the city council to mandate wearing a “bright yellow star.” CMCEO stands in solidarity with the nonpartisan Jewish Community Relations Council, St. Cloud City Council, The St. Cloud Times and others in condemning Brandmire’s Holocaust analogy. The Nazis forced Jews to wear gold stars to mark them for genocide. Face masks protect both the wearer and others against COVID-19, which strikes indiscriminately.
COVID-19 threatens the health and wellbeing of every American but especially the most vulnerable among us. Slowing the spread is a matter affecting the life and dignity of our neighbors. The politicization of public health guidelines accelerates needless suffering and racial inequities. We are only being asked to do the basics to safeguard the lives of all Americans. The only way we can stop the spread is by uniting across political, racial and religious differences to follow public health guidelines, especially social distancing and face masks.
Public statement on public health and human dignity issued by Central Minnesota Community Empowerment Organization. CMCEO is a multi-faith nonprofit that works to improve the lives of East African and other new American members of our community through intercultural dialogue, after-school programming and aid distribution.