With COVID-19 continuing to spread in Charlotte and across the country, Joe Biden’s presidential campaign hosted a press conference with local elected officials in Uptown on Sunday focusing on what’s at stake for North Carolinians’ health care as Election Day approaches.
U.S. Congresswoman Alma Adams, N.C. Rep. Chaz Beasley and Grammy Award-winning rapper Common addressed Charlotte voters at the press conference in front of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, stressing the need for access to both health care and mental-health support, and making their case for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. They were joined by local residents who suffered through COVID-19 recovery.
“This has been an incredibly challenging year for our state and our country, but the sad thing is, it didn’t have to happen this way,” Adams said. “It didn’t have to be so bad. But our national response to this crisis has been botched from day one because of the incompetence of Donald Trump and Mike Pence.”
In the Charlotte area, Adams pointed out, more residents lost their jobs in the second quarter of 2020 than any other quarter, therefore losing access to employer-sponsored health care. She sympathized with those who haven’t been able to see a doctor, and warned that President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence want to roll back access to health insurance.
Adams said Trump’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will affect millions of North Carolinians, but especially communities of color.
“This administration’s attack on the ACA is an attack on the health and financial well-being of people all over our state, and in particular, an attack on communities of color,” Adams said. “The ACA played a critical role in cutting the uninsured rate of African Americans by a third, and for Latinos, by nearly half.”
Common directly addressed African-American and Latinx voters with a message that focused on mental health. He said he said he understands why folks in underserved communities feel that their vote doesn’t matter, as they’ve gone ignored for so long, but he believes “the change is here.”
“Health care is not a color issue,” Common said. “You can say, ‘politics doesn’t affect me,’ but health care does affect you. And mental health affects you… When I hear Representative Adams — and I’ve heard different people, from Joe Biden to Kamala Harris to [South Carolina senatorial candidate] Jaime Harrison — talk about making sure that health care is something that we have in our communities that usually go underserved, we need it … I’m really saying to our Black and brown brothers and sisters, please go out and vote.”
Beasley also addressed African-American and Latinx voters, connecting social justice and criminal justice to health-care issues.
John Clifton, a Charlotte resident who recovered from COVID-19, also spoke at Sunday’s press conference. Clifton spent seven days in the hospital and still experiences neuropsychological side effects as a result of the virus.
“COVID continues to impact my life and is dominating my life,” Clifton said. “I’m grateful for the care I received. If it wasn’t for the Affordable Care Act, I know that I probably wouldn’t be here. I don’t know the situation for a lot of other people that didn’t make it.”
Clifton said he is voting for Biden and Harris because he believes they will do whatever it takes to meet public health needs and address the economic impact of COVID-19.
“[The President] does not have a comprehensive plan,” Clifton said. “Donald Trump has turned his back on the American people and the country as a whole in our time of need.”
Common told voters he was not only disappointed in the Trump administration’s handling of health care, but disappointed in the last four years and the current state of the country. He cited the events that happened in Graham a day earlier, in which police officers pepper sprayed peaceful protesters and children as they marched to the polls.
“What type of leadership and country do we want this to be? It’s got to be better,” Common said.
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