Restrictions Falling Away as States Reopen; Biden Urged to Stop Companies from Denying Service
Thousands of people will likely die in the coming weeks because the Biden administration has failed to heed pleas to help keep water service on for covid mitigation.
Michigan, where Covid cases have increased about 77% since mid-February, is scheduled to end its moratorium on water shutoffs tomorrow. Other states where bans on water shutoffs enacted because of the pandemic are scheduled to end include Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont.
Groups are urging the Biden administration to halt water shutoffs during the pandemic and support a law that would forgive unpaid water bills that accumulated during the pandemic.
The nonprofit and other groups are urging the Biden administration to halt water shutoffs during the pandemic and support a law that would forgive unpaid water bills that accumulated during the pandemic.
Households with water have greater protection against Covid through improved sanitation.
Cornell University professor Mildred Warner and post-doctoral associate Xue Zhang analyzed Covid cases and deaths in 2020 and found that states which prevented utilities from shutting water off during the pandemic had significantly lower growth rates of infections and deaths.
More than 9,000 Covid deaths in our nation last year might have been prevented if utilities hadn’t denied water service because of unpaid bills.
“The pain and suffering caused by [the] Covid pandemic were exacerbated by political leaders who failed to take action to keep the water flowing for struggling families.” So said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, which helped produce the Cornell study.
The Cornell researchers found that a nationwide ban on water shutoffs might have prevented nearly half a million people from being infected with Covid last year. Keeping the water on could have reduced cases by almost 4% and deaths by 5.5% in the 41 states without complete bans from April 17, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2020.
Unaffordable water bills are a growing problem. A 2017 study found that water bills were unaffordable for about 12% of households. Federal funding for water and sewer systems fell by 77% in real dollars from 1977 to 2017.
Households have an estimated nearly $9 billion in water and sewer debt that has built up during the pandemic.
Thirty million federal benefits recipients with the lowest incomes and others still have not received $1,400 stimulus checks.
Featured image: CDC