Presidential candidates discuss views on COVID-19, stadium at Zoom debate

Joseph Crespo, ListenTU’s presidential candidate and Quinn Litsinger, BloomTU’s presidential candidate participated in Temple Student Government’s first 2020 election season debate. | LISTENTU & BLOOMTU / COURTESY

Temple Student Government held its first executive debate of election season on Facebook Live on Thursday evening. 

With about 65 people tuning in, Joseph Crespo, ListenTU’s presidential candidate and a junior financial planning major, and Quinn Litsinger, BloomTU’s presidential candidate and sophomore political science major, participated in the debate. Rofiat Oseni, TSG’s chief judge moderated the debate.

The candidates discussed their platforms over Zoom, a teleconferencing software, as a result of social distancing guidelines advised by local officials amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tone of the debate was fairly mild, with some rebuttals from each candidate, as they made their case for why their team should be elected.

Here’s how the debate transpired:

Opening Statements

In his opening statement, Litsinger emphasized various areas of BloomTU’s platform, including their pledge to press the university to divest from fossil fuels, efforts to increase TSG’s accountability to the student body and opposition to the construction of an on-campus stadium.

In his opening statement, Crespo criticized the current TSG administration’s decision not to postpone the elections due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Crespo mentioned that all other organizations and activities he is involved with have stopped working.

“This has all been rightfully halted by COVID-19 other than this election,” Crespo said.  “Through the last month, I have personally lost my mental health care, job and didn’t have a home to go back to.”

Proposed Stadium

Litsinger said Temple’s proposed on-campus stadium would have a detrimental impact on community residents and that BloomTU opposes the stadium just as Temple’s undergraduate students do, referencing a poll by TSG in 2018 in which 58% of respondents said they opposed the stadium.

Crespo said that while ListenTU opposes the stadium and would work with the Stadium Stompers, an organization of residents, students and faculty against the stadium, to organize against the plan. ListenTU’s platform stated if the stadium is built the administration would work to give the community access to it.

COVID-19

Crespo said he would be more transparent and act quicker than the current TSG administration to respond to student needs amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He would have wanted to continue updating students through the crisis, Crespo said.

BloomTU would have achieved transparency by organizing  a referendum system in which the administration would take polls of student’s opinions on issues, Litsinger said. The administration would then present the data from these polls to the university on different issues, like postponing commencement due to the outbreak, which the university announced it would do last week. 

“This is a way to provide a legitimized sort of petition,” Litsinger said. “Being as transparent as possible and making sure as little as possible is behind the scenes.”

Dealing with COVID-19 in Fall 2020

A Temple student submitted a question asking about the candidates’ plans for the possibility the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Temple in Fall 2020. 

Litsinger said BloomTU would work to ensure that online classes are accessible to students in different time zones. Their administration would also work with local elected officials and external organizations to make sure that students are not left without food or housing security.

Crespo said ListenTU would connect students with housing relief, food relief, free legal aid if students need it and mental health resources.

“More than anything, I would emphasize the mental health of students through this,” Crespo said.

ListenTU would like Temple to start a mental health hotline for students run by student workers called Tuttleman Talks, Crespo said. The executive team wants to implement this in an effort to alleviate long wait times for appointments at Tuttleman Counseling Services, Crespo said.

Establishing a hotline for students would not be as efficient as improving on Tuttleman’s current services, Litsinger said. 

Identity based Living Learning Communities

Crespo and Litsinger debated about whether Living Learning Communities, or groups of students who live in the same section of on-campus housing that all have similar majors, interests or are part of the honors program, can be based on identity.

Advocating for LGBTQ LLCs is a part of BloomTU’s agenda in addition to pushing for more gender neutral bathrooms and hiring an LGBTQ specialist at Tuttleman Counseling Services, Litsinger said.  

In response to this, Crespo said that the LLC would be segregation.

“LLCs are not demographically based and that would be modern segregation,” Crespo said.

Later in the debate, a Temple student submitted a question to TSG about Crespo’s statement and why an LGBTQ LLC would be “modern segregation.”

“Wouldn’t that then mean any identity-based organization or spaces are also modern day segregation,” Oseni said as she read the student’s question.

Crespo said that it was not his intention to say that.

“You don’t have an LLC that’s called an African American LLC,” Crespo said.

Closing statements

In his closing statement, Litsinger summarized his team’s platform and mentioned that BloomTU will listen to students’ feedback, ensure that there’s an in-person graduate ceremony for Spring 2020 seniors and advocate for partial reimbursements for university service fees.

Crespo mentioned ListenTU will work to build better relations with the community, better mental health resources and promote local and fresh food options.

“Quinn mentioned various key platform points that are important to us and can ensure that each student and member of our Temple Community is being represented whether it’s through initiating referendums, advocating for a polling place on campus, meeting with local community members to talk about how we can ensure that our community is doing the best it can, to even advocating for the University’s divestment of fossil fuels,” said Jess Torres, BloomTU’s communications director. “We hope that viewers were able to see how we plan to make a positive change for everyone on our campus.”

Will Careri, ListenTU’s communications director, said Crespo was successful in advocating for mental health during the debate.

“While I want to commend both candidates, I felt Joseph did an excellent job while touching on hot topics such as diversifying Temple Student Government, advocating for mental health care on campus and overall inclusion university-wide,” Careri said. “Running a grassroots campaign, worked on by a truly diverse group of campus and community leaders, I believe Joseph represented ListenTU and the student body well.”

L.A. Watts Times Exclusive: Senator Harris Speaks Out on COVID-19

April 02, 2020 

By Jennifer Bihm 

Contributing Writer 

Senator Kamala Harris is currently fighting for three things in Washington, she said. Those are: free Corona virus testing, free treatment and financial relief until Americans are able to return to pre-outbreak life. This is a public health crisis and a health care crisis, she said. 

“How long Americans will be on lockdown is still to be determined,” Harris said during an interview with the L.A. Watts Times this week.

“What we’re seeing is where there are people [isolating and social distancing] that the virus does not spread as quickly. We still have a problem though. Cities, counties and states need more tests …”

But that’s not the only issue, said Harris.

“Just last week, we had 3.3 million people sign up for unemployment insurance,” she said.

That would mean that people who have lost their jobs due to the outbreak have probably lost health coverage if they had any in the first place. In turn, that would mean that people would not be able to afford treatment even if they were tested and diagnosed.

“One of the things I’ve been fighting for in Washington … we’ve fought to get free testing but we also need free treatment,” said Harris.

“The other issue is that we need to get people relief while they are home. So, one of the good things about the bill that we passed is that families and individuals will get a check … $1200 for individuals and $500 per child.

“For people who have lost their jobs, unemployment insurance will be set for four months. And, for the first time ever, unemployment insurance is going to cover gig workers. Another component that is very important is that we have small business owners who have had to close.”

They are set to get $10,000 in relief also, she said.

“And we also need to take care of our health care workers,” said Harris.

 

“So, part of what the bill does is provide $150 billion to hospitals and health care providers around the country. Part of that money can go to those workers to pay for child care. Because we have health care workers who are going to work every day and they deeply care about their mission to save lives. But their children may be at home without supervision.”

Harris also touched on how the pandemic is specifically affecting African Americans, who she said could be greatly affected.

“I’m going to give three facts,” she said.

“Lupus [for example] affects Black women three times more.  High blood pressure: Black families are 40 percent more likely to have it. Why am I bringing those up? Those are examples of preexisting conditions that compromise people’s health.

“These are the reasons we have to make sure that people are self-isolating, that they are taking it seriously, monitoring themselves and making sure they are not exposed. Because, the disease is harder on people who have preexisting conditions.

“That’s why I’m also demanding the government start to compile and collect data that they can release.”

That’s important, Harris said, because the pandemic is highlighting disparities based on race that have existed in the country for a long time.

“… health disparities based on race, educational disparities based on race, economic disparities based on race … this is just blowing all of that up,” she said.

 

Harris, along with senators Elizabeth Warren and Corey Booker and congresswomen Ayanna Pressley and Robin Kelly, sent a letter to the Department of Health, stating, “Although COVID-19 does not discriminate along racial or ethnic lines, existing racial disparities and inequities in health outcomes and health care access may mean that the nation’s response to preventing and mitigating its harms will not be felt equally in every community …”

Lastly, Harris presented the importance of making sure that mental health is intact during the crisis.

“[For example] for folks like our seniors who … the way that they socialize is to go to church on Sunday, they’re not going to have that. So, we want to make sure we reach out to our seniors so they don’t feel alone,” she explained.

“We want to make sure that while people are social distancing, they’re not emotional distancing …”

Harris said for those who need to apply for assistance the following resources are available:

For small businesses

https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

For individuals

https://edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019.htm

For stimulus checks

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/irs-releases-more-info-how-get-coronavirus-stimulus-checks-asap-n1172676

Charles M. Blow: The racial time bomb in the COVID-19 crisis

Early Monday morning the email arrived. The subject line began, “ALARM AT THE GATE,” written in all caps. Someone had died. That is always what that phrasing means.

The message came via a group email list maintained by the fraternity I joined in college some 30 years ago.

A younger member, a rising chef in his 30s, had died. As the email read, he passed away “due to immune system complications resulting from contracting the COVID-19 virus as a Type-1 diabetic.” He was in Detroit, which has emerged as a hot spot for the virus.

This was the third death I’d heard about of someone with a connection to my college or a friend who went there. All relatively young, all black men, all diabetics. The two others were in New Orleans, another emerging hot spot.

I recalled an arresting article I’d read from “Undark,” a Knight Foundation-funded, science-oriented digital magazine in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (I’m on the advisory board of the magazine.) As the article pointed out, the virus may prove most devastating in the South because of “poorer health, curbed health care access and skepticism of government.”

What the article doesn’t state outright, but I read in the subtext, was that the virus is more likely to be deadly to black people. Most black people in America still live in the South. The states with the highest percentage of black people are in the South.

We may be waiting for a racial time bomb to explode with this disease.

In the early days of the virus, the relatively few cases on the African continent, I believe, gave black people in America a false sense of security, that black people may be somehow less susceptible to it.

But that is not true, and African Americans should not look to Africa as the model. Even as researchers worry about Africans’ vulnerabilities — some being the same issues that exist in the American South — African countries also have advantages that America and, in particular, African Americans don’t.

As Berkeley economist Edward Miguel explained, “The median age in a lot of countries is 20 or 18, much younger than in Europe, and it appears that young people who are infected are often asymptomatic or just get a cold.” The median age in the United States is 38. Furthermore, some African nations have a medical infrastructure experienced in dealing with pandemics, and in many cases people still live in rural areas.

But what is most worrisome is the racial disparity in prior health conditions that exist in the United States. As Bloomberg reported about a study of the deaths in Italy: “Almost half of the victims suffered from at least three prior illnesses, and about a fourth had either one or two previous conditions. More than 75% had high blood pressure, about 35% had diabetes and a third suffered from heart disease.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high blood pressure is most common in non-Hispanic black adults (54%), and black people have the highest death rate from heart disease.

As for diabetes, the 2015 National Medical Association Scientific Assembly, held in Detroit, where my friend died, delivered these stark statistics:

“African American patients are more likely than white patients to have diabetes. The risk of diabetes is 77% higher among African Americans than among non-Hispanic white Americans. The rates of diagnosis of diabetes in non-Hispanic African Americans is 18.7% compared to 7.1%.”

The group went on to say that in 2006, “African Americans with diabetes were 1.5 times more likely to be hospitalized and 2.3 times more likely to die from diabetes than non-Hispanic whites.”

In addition, many Southern states refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and there is a rural hospital crisis in this country. But that crisis is compounded in the South, where, as the magazine Facing South points out, the rural areas “have higher poverty rates, higher mortality rates, and lower life expectancies than other rural regions of the country.”

This all worries me, because I take a lesson from the HIV/AIDS crisis. In the beginning, it was largely seen as a New York and San Francisco problem affecting white men who were gay. Over the decades, treatments became available, and those cities saw their new infection rates plummet.

But the disease remained very much alive, particularly in the South, particularly among black people, where it has reached epidemic proportions. In the United States, more than 40% of people living with HIV and 40% of people with new infections are black, according to the CDC, and “African American men accounted for three-quarters of new HIV infections among African Americans in 2016, and 80% of these were among African American gay and bisexual men.”

Black people were already suffering through an epidemic, one with treatments that could have arrested it, and yet it rarely made the news.

We know that if a person is under treatment and the HIV is well controlled, meaning undetectable, there is “effectively no risk” of transmitting the virus. We also know that drugs can be taken to prevent contracting the disease.

But here, the connection must be made with that refusal to expand Medicaid. As the Kaiser Family Foundation has pointed out: “Medicaid beneficiaries with HIV are more likely to be male (56% vs. 42%), black (50% vs. 22%) and between the ages of 45-64 (54% vs. 13%) than the Medicaid population overall.”

On some level, HIV is ravishing the South because Southern states have made a policy decision not to care in a sufficient way because the people suffering are poor and black.

And many of these people are also vulnerable to this new virus, as Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, said at a news conference a couple of weeks ago. “We are all very worried about” long-term survivors of HIV, many of whom “still carry a level of immune-compromise,” she noted.

I don’t want that to be the future of COVID-19 and black America.

The problem we have now is that we don’t see the racial demographic data for this virus.

I echo the concerns of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Ayanna Pressley and others who wrote Friday to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

“The CDC is currently failing to collect and publicly report on the racial and ethnic demographic information of patients tested for and affected by COVID-19. Our concerns echo those from some physicians: that decisions to test individuals for the novel coronavirus may be ‘more vulnerable to the implicit biases that every patient and medical professional carry around with them,’ potentially causing ‘black communities and other underserved groups … (to) disproportionately mis(s) out on getting tested for COVID-19.’ ”

The letter went on: “Although COVID-19 does not discriminate along racial or ethnic lines, existing racial disparities and inequities in health outcomes and health care access may mean that the nation’s response to preventing and mitigating its harms will not be felt equally in every community.”

I have been communicating with my niece, Cortney, a nurse on the front lines of the crisis in Louisiana. (She’s actually my niece’s half-sister, but my brothers and I have always called her our niece as well.)

She has seen racial disparities in treatments but also black people being hit particularly hard by the disease, something that she says others in the state are also seeing. As she messaged me: “I can’t speak for the U.S. as a whole, but in the South, particularly Louisiana, we are seeing more black cases that aren’t responding well to the virus.”

We need data to know if her observations are anomalous or endemic.

People like to say “we’re all in this together,” but black people have every right to respond, “but will we all emerge from it together?”

Charles Blow

Charles M. Blow is an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times.

Cosmic Folk Duo Mapache On ‘From Liberty Street’

Few artists have transcended genres, decades, languages, cultures and borders like Selena. Born Selena Quintanilla in Lake Jackson, Texas, and reared in the state’s Corpus Christi area, the iconic singer is one of the most influential and most successful artists in the wider Latin pop canon.

In her early days, she became a pioneer in the then-male-dominated Tejano music scene, a genre she helped mainstream when she won the GRAMMY for Best Mexican-American Album in 1994 for her 1993 live album, Selena Live! It marked her first, and only, career GRAMMY win and the first time a female Tejano artist won the category, earning her the undisputed title of Queen of Tejano music. It was only one of many accolades for the legendary singer. 

Remembering Selena 25 Years Later

In her short-lived solo career—she released five studio albums between 1989 and 1995—Selena would establish an ever-lasting sound that spanned languages and styles and resonated with fans across a spectrum of cultures and ethnicities. Her multiplatinum 1994 album, Amor Prohibido, gave early indications of her cross-cultural crossover appeal. In addition to topping the Top Latin Albums and the Regional Mexican Albums charts, Amor Prohibido became a top 30 hit on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart. It also received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Mexican-American Performance and spawned four chart-topping hits that conquered the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart: “Amor Prohibido,” “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “No Me Queda Más” and “Fotos Y Recuerdos,” all considered signature Selena classics today. 

She would later go on to fully establish her mainstream crossover appeal with Dreaming Of You, her final album, released posthumously in July 1995, just three months after she was murdered by a former employee. The album would debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in the U.S., becoming the first predominately Spanish-language album to accomplish that feat. It would ultimately prove the full potential of just how far the international star was poised to go.

Selena’s reach expands far beyond music, too. A multifaceted businesswoman, she owned and operated two boutiques, called Selena Etc., across Texas, with several other locations across Latin America in the works. As a budding fashion designer, she regularly wore her own designs while performing onstage: Her iconic purple jumpsuit she wore at her final concert in 1995 remains an eternal look. In 2016, MAC Cosmetics released a makeup collection inspired by and in honor of Selena. Selling out within a day, the collection is now considered one of the best-selling MAC celeb collaborations of all time. MAC will be releasing a second Selena capsule collection this April.

The story of Selena, forever immortalized in the 1997 biopic starring a then-rookie Jennifer Lopez in the career-making titular role, is one that’s continued since her untimely death in 1995. She has since inspired a new generation of artists and fans alike, who carry on her legacy through music, art and fashion, three areas in which she pushed the envelope with her unique style and vision. Much like her music lives on to this day, so too does her never-ending influence. 

On the 25th anniversary of her passing today (March 31), the Recording Academy honors Selena via an industry round-table tribute featuring the artists, creatives and journalists she’s inspired throughout the decades through her music and art.

The quotes and comments used in this feature were edited for clarity and brevity.

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She Was A Genuine Soul

Kacey Musgraves (GRAMMY-winning artist; in 2019, she covered Selena’s “Como La Flor” at the same site of the Tejano legend’s final concert in 1995): Selena had an innate talent for taking something classic and traditional and shaping it with her modern voice. I love when someone has the vision to take something that’s been done a million times and knows how to freshen it up in a way that speaks to their generation and also older generations. It’s a quality that truly brings people of all ages together. 

Selena was an entrepreneur and woman of business, a songwriter, an iconic vocalist, a trendsetter, and her fashion sense was way ahead of its time. But the attribute I admire most about her was her ability to be real—unabashedly genuine across the board. Being in the spotlight, especially from a young age, can bamboozle people into feeling like they have to shift into something different when the cameras are on. Without ever knowing her, I feel like I can say she never did.

Linda Wilvang (Senior Director, Awards and Latin Genre Manager at the Recording Academy): I have always been attracted to artists who push the envelope, artists who are not conventional, and Selena was one of those artists. She elevated Tejano music to a new high. She successfully blended other musical styles with Tejano and made it her own. She proved to me that you can succeed without compromising your core values, without changing who you are. You can work in any industry and still be real.

John Dyer (photographer; in addition to photographing Selena for several magazine covers in the early ’90s, he has contributed images to the Selena Forever/Siempre Selena installation on display at McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas): I spent the day before the shoot setting up several backdrops in the studio so I could photograph her in a variety of situations and costumes … She jumped out of her car with a big smile. A naturally beautiful, young Latina with jet-black hair, flawless skin, and a perfect figure. She opened the hatchback. It was crammed full of her performing costumes, many handmade, all of her own design … 

For the cover [Mas Magazine, 1992], we shot in front of a gray background. Then we moved in front of a red curtain above a black and white checked floor. We ended outside the studio against a white seamless in the warm afternoon light. Selena’s quick smile, infectious laugh, and unending energy made her a pleasure to work with …

In early 1995, Texas Monthly called and wanted to do a spread on Selena. By now, she had achieved incredible fame and transcended the boundaries of the Texas music scene. 

We met at the Majestic Theater in San Antonio, a favorite place of mine. She had just finished two exhausting days of shooting TV commercials for a corporate sponsor. She was tired. I had brought a beautiful handmade jacket for her to wear. I posed her in the alcove on the mezzanine of the theater where the light is particularly nice. She was subdued and pensive. A far cry from the ebullient, excited young singer I’d photographed three years earlier. Later I thought her mood might have been an eerie harbinger of what was to come.

Between when I photographed her at the Majestic and the Texas Monthly article coming out, she was killed. The art director, my old friend DJ Stout, used one of the more somber shots I had done for his cover chronicling her death. He sent me a handwritten note not too long after the issue appeared saying the cover with my photograph of Selena was one of the strongest he’d ever done. It’s a cover I would rather not have had. 

She Represented A Different Kind Of Beauty

Patty Rodriguez (Senior Producer for On Air With Ryan Seacrest; her Los Angeles-based children’s book publisher, Lil’ Libros, released a bilingual picture book biography about Selena; in 2015, her online petition helped launch the Selena-inspired MAC Cosmetics makeup line): She was unapologetically Latina. She was so proud of her identity and carried it with her everywhere, and that is what resonated with us. Growing up, we had no one to look up to, so then here comes a woman … with black hair, brown skin, that sounds and looks like us. Her flamboyant onstage costumes were designed and created by her, an example of the Latina make-it-happen-with-the-limited-resources-we-have attitude. Her trademark red lipstick and hoop earrings are what you see in our neighborhoods, and she took that with her to the world stage. 

Latina women purchase beauty products three times more than any other group, and it wasn’t until MAC released Selena’s collection did we feel seen; it’s unbelievable to me that it took this long. But I see why: The men and women who grew up with Selena are now adults. She taught us to be unapologetically Latinx, and we are no longer afraid to ask for what we deserve. Thank you Selena.

Read: Remember When? Selena Wins Big At The 36th GRAMMYs 

Leila Cobo (VP Latin Industry Lead at Billboard): I think Selena’s particular brand of beauty was essential to her success. In a world (still) of telegenic, imported Latin pop stars, and a time when the standard for Latin beauty were largely white soap opera actresses, Selena was an anomaly. Selena embraced her body, her hair, her voluptuousness. She was so real. I would say that, for the first time, a new generation of U.S.-born Mexican-Americans and Latinas overall had a star that they could intimately relate to at all levels. She was their peer. She was a role model for an entire generation of Mexican-American girls who didn’t have a role model before. This was key. Only Jenni Rivera, many years later, would come close.

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Kate Carey (Head of Education at McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas; Exhibition Curator for Selena Forever / Siempre Selena photography installation): In selecting the photographs on view in Selena Forever/Siempre Selena, I had an opportunity to look through many photos from two different shoots with photographer John Dyer. I recognize that he is a gifted photographer, but her beauty and winning personality were revealed on every frame. I can see why brands wanted to align with her image. Yes, she is beautiful, but she also came across as very real—just like me or you. 

Pabllo Vittar (Brazilian activist, artist and drag queen): Selena embraced her beauty the way it was, not trying to follow the “beauty rules.” That’s important and it resonates till now, as you can see more and more people feeling good with their bodies and how they look. We are all beautiful in our own way and there’s nothing that can tell us otherwise. 

Honey Andrews (transgender performer, based in Corpus Christi, Texas, who’s worked as a Selena impersonator for nearly 15 years; “Selena was definitely one of my inspirations and idols and someone I definitely look up to when I began my transition,” she says): Selena’s fashion was definitely ahead of its time, and she was always up to date on the latest trends. She was an amazing fashion designer. Her amazing onstage costumes are very recognizable, and she has definitely impacted today’s women in the music industry; till this day, a lot of women credit her for the fashions they wear ontage and even for just a casual day. She definitely impacted me because she taught me that you can be sexy, even if you’re not a size zero. You can still be sexy by having curves, and she definitely embraced her own beautiful body and curves.

Girl Ultra (R&B artist from Mexico City): I feel like she embraced her curves and her body shape so much. She was breaking paradigms about the female body and Latina bodies as well. As Latinas, we have big caderas [hips] and juicy thighs, and when it comes to fashion, it’s hard to find the right sizes. And by her designing her own outfits and crafting them, she was breaking all this body stereotyping back in the day. 

Javiera Mena (Chilean electropop artist): She transmitted good vibes with her smile, her eyes, her body—we could feel it. We all feel it when we watch her videos, too. It makes you connect, and that’s a real beauty. Also, her mouth and lips were very iconic. I understand MAC [Cosmetics] used it for a [beauty] line, with her big and thick lips, something that influenced me and all the people!

Her Fashion Was Ahead Of The Time

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Kate Carey (McNay Art Museum): Selena Forever/Siempre Selena was conceived at the McNay Art Museum in tandem with the 1990s-focused exhibition, Fashion Nirvana: Runway To Everyday. Like many of the designers on view in Fashion Nirvana, Selena took fashion risks, embraced body-conscious ensembles and carefully crafted her image. That brand of fearlessness and innovation characterized the 1990s and Selena’s fashion sense. The sparkly bustier tops, revealing performance ensembles and cool leather jackets cement her reputation as a style icon, but she presented an authentic and accessible image by wearing jeans, boots and white T-shirts. Personally, I’m a big fan of the accessories: the newsboy hats or big silver belts. She absorbs these elements of menswear and represents them as both tough and feminine. That, to me, is ’90s fashion in a nutshell.

Javiera Mena (artist): I love her aesthetic and style. It is a great influence for me. I have been influenced by the high-cut Texan jackets with large shoulder pads and the glitter and reflective accessories. Also, her jeans and thick eyebrows. She was a pioneer. She had an elegance that brightened without limits when she was on stage.

Christian Serratos (actress; she stars as Selena in the forthcoming Netflix series, “Selena: The Series”): It’s amazing to see how many artists, of all backgrounds and genders, have been inspired by Selena. It was her fearlessness and creativity that made her an icon. There are few people who have the power to be remembered by a color or a feeling, or who have become synonymous with an accessory like the hoop earring. The last time I saw what Selena did to the red lip was Marylin Monroe, another icon. I see Selena’s influence when I walk down the street, and I know I’ll continue seeing that influence for many more generations. 

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María (Lead singer of Los Angeles-based Spanglish indie rock/indie pop band, The Marías): My first memory of being introduced to Selena was in her biopic film. Thereafter, I listened to her music and watched her music videos nonstop. I remember when I was around 5 or 6, I wanted to wear a bustier just like Selena. I wasn’t even old enough to wear a bra! But my mom, being the angel she was, found some tiny training bras at the store and sewed little beads on them for me. This was my earliest memory of being directly influenced by fashion. When I was old enough to really understand, her style represented confidence in your own body. The fact that she could so freely and confidently dance around in a bustier, against her father’s wishes, was inspiring. She wasn’t doing it for sex appeal, in my opinion. She was doing it because she simply wanted to feel free and in control of her body.

Raquel Berrios (Puerto Rican designer and co-founder/singer of Buscabulla): Her style sense was very balanced and cool. It was sexy without being slutty, feminine but not fragile. She really created a strong yet down-to-Earth example for Latinas. I personally strive to include that balance in the way that I like to style myself and portray myself as a Latina artist. 

She Was A Multifaceted Businesswoman

Christian Serratos (actress): Selena’s ability to create new avenues for herself and work hard to achieve them is inspiring and relatable. We all have the ability to design our own paths. Strong women like Selena show us the power of never giving up and handling adversities with grace. 

Jennifer D’Cunha (Global Head of Latin Music at Apple Music): Selena had an entrepreneurial spirit and extended her self-expression beyond music and into fashion, design and film, while staying true to her personal brand and identity. Her confidence, authenticity and distinctive personal style still resonate and inspire fans all over the world. She had the courage to reinvent herself and the work ethic and raw talent to be successful at anything she committed to. Selena ventured into uncharted territory by expanding her realm of influence outside of music, well before celebrity clothing lines were commonplace and brand partnerships were the norm.

Tatiana Hazel (Mexican-American, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter, musician, producer and fashion designer): Nowadays, several musicians are starting their own makeup lines, fashion brands, etc. But Selena was definitely a pioneer for this kind of business model. She really was capable of anything she set her mind to accomplish, and I believe that is why she was able to break so many barriers through determination. Also, not only was she determined, but also talented at everything that she pursued.

She Was A Voice For Latinx People Around The World …

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Adrian Quesada (GRAMMY-winning guitarist/producer and founding member of GRAMMY-nominated duo Black Pumas; he served as the music director for the Selena For Sanctuary tribute concert series in 2018 and 2019): She had a huge impact and influenced many, and still does to this day, because representation is very important for communities and cultures that haven’t always had an icon that transcends boundaries to look up to. For people that looked like her, spoke like her, came from places like she did, it let them know that they could do it, too. I feel like her influence continues to grow exponentially, even for generations who weren’t alive when she was. She gives hope and inspires because she was bigger than any one genre, culture, region and country, and was a positive role model at that. 

María (artist): When an artist as undeniably talented as Selena comes along, deep down it doesn’t matter where she’s from. I became a fan of Selena when I was really little, after watching the movie [Selena] with Jennifer Lopez. It didn’t matter to me what Latin country she was from. What mattered to me was that she was Latin and that she was accomplishing so many amazing things. Of course, Latin communities take pride in their countries and flags, but what unites us all is that we’re Latin, that we have similar values and morals and beliefs. I’m from Puerto Rico and my father is from Spain, but growing up, all of my friends were from different Latin countries: Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Guatemala and more. We learned from each other’s unique cultures, but deep down we were all the same. 

La Doña (Mexican-America multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer-songwriter): I think the reason her music was so successful with such a diversity of Latinos is because Tejano music and all of the music she is founded in are tremendously diasporic cultural practices. That means that when she revolutionized Tejano music and prepared it for the pop platform, she is representing and reiterating ancient practices that are not confined to the region of Texas. Similarly, when she presented her style of techno-cumbia, she was not only appealing to a young brown audience, who was excited by their contemporary synthetic sounds mixed with familiar and familial rhythms, but also representing Afro-Latinx and Afro-indigenous art forms that have informed all of the musica tipica and popular of Latin America. This commitment to tradition and bravery in transporting it into a new arena is definitely one of the reasons that Selena’s music spoke to such a diversity of Latinx fans across the world. 

Isabela Raygoza (Latin Music Editor at SoundCloud): Selena’s musical moxie embodied the beautiful complexities of biculturalism. With her insatiable mix of electro-cumbia, ranchera and pop-flavored R&B, Selena went on to represent the experiences and lifestyles of her compatriots: Mexicans (native, first-, second-, third-gen), Texas dwellers and beyond. She was born in the U.S. to Mexican-descendent parents, and she didn’t speak fluent Spanish, similar to Chicano rock star Ritchie Valens before her and countless others of Latinx immigrant backgrounds. Brown-skinned, family-oriented, and of humble beginnings, Selena, the pop icon, became the voice of the Latinx diaspora. 

Without Selena’s formidable contributions to Latin pop, J.Lo or Becky G‘s musical career might’ve not been what they are today: two U.S.-born Latinas who, too, grew up speaking predominantly English, who embrace their biculturalism with endearment and pride and who uphold the enduring legacy left behind by the Queen Of Tejano Music.  

Although Selena’s tragic death cut her potential short, she nevertheless managed to leave an indelible mark on Latin pop, and she will surely continue to do so for newer pop stars to come.

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Raquel Berrios (artist, Buscabulla): Selena was right there doing her Latin thing in the most unique way in a time when we really didn’t get to see a lot of Latina role models on mainstream media. She set such a cool example of a super talented, down-to-Earth Latina woman. I loved how she broke language barriers. That was a huge inspiration for me as an artist.

… But She Was A Role Model For All People

Kali Uchis (GRAMMY-nominated artist): Selena will forever be iconic because that’s what she was. Her being taken from us is one of the greatest tragedies known to man, but Selena’s raw star power, persistence and dedicated fan base are the reason her legacy will be immortal. As a Latin-American woman, she made me proud to be multicultural when at times it never felt I could be American enough or Colombian enough. I’ve always listed her as one of my greatest inspirations, because she was the first multicultural global sensation on Earth.  

Honey Andrews (performer/Selena impersonator): Selena’s music and art influenced me in so many different ways. Her music is timeless. Selena was a piece of art herself. She was very diverse with her wardrobe as well as her music. She means so much to me as a person because she taught me that the impossible is always possible. She was a one-of-a-kind artist and she was such a great cultural figure for the Hispanic and Latino and Mexican-American community.

Marissa Gastelum (Latin Music Artist Relations at Apple Music): Selena is the only Latin artist to have broken cultural barriers the way she has passed the grave. When you have artists like Beyoncé and Kacey Musgraves performing covers of Selena or Drake wearing a shirt with Selena, you know she has transcended culture. Her spirit lives on through her music, and the Selena movie helps new generations get to know her story and connect to her music. Her album Dreaming Of You is a gem, and those songs are timeless. I think these artists connect to Selena because of her music and her sense of style. She was the epitome of cool and an incredible performer. Selena showed that a woman can be strong and graceful and can command a stage and be sexy at the same time.   

iLe (GRAMMY-winning Puerto Rican singer/artist; member of Calle 13): I think that when you start something that’s so good there is no reason to stop. Selena was that dreamer that we all are when we were young. Listening to her songs today is revitalizing. She and her music reminds us about the importance of being alive, enjoying every moment and to keep dreaming. 

Suzy Exposito (Latin Music Editor at Rolling Stone; her former punk band, Shady Hawkins, covered Selena’s “Como La Flor” in the past): I was always a sucker for a forbidden romance like that of [Selena’s hit song] “Amor Prohibido.” Inspired by love letters Selena discovered from her grandmother to her grandfather—a young maid who fell in love with the wealthy son of her employers—it’s a heartrending tale of two young sweethearts, who against the conventions of society, flout their class disparity with love. Selena told it with such verve and conviction that even as a 5-year-old, it just rocked me to my core. Yet the context changed as I grew older, and I began to understand that the love I so desired would probably look very different from that of my parents or most of my peers. So when I came out as a bisexual woman 10 years ago, I braced myself to go through it alone; but the biggest surprise and reward of coming out was that, in fact, I was far from it! In being more present in New York City’s LGBTQ community, whether by attending protests, drag nights and punk shows, I was able to find a beautiful community of Latinx people who grew up just like me: bilingual children of immigrants, whose resilience and great capacity for love transcends all kinds of borders.

Suzy Exposito (center) performs with her band, Shady Hawkins

Suzy Exposito (center) performs with her band, Shady Hawkins

Adrian Quesada (artist/producer): Being from a South Texas border town, cross-cultural and bilingual feels pretty normal and felt so at the time of her music. But I think it gave hope that it could be bigger than that and reach the masses through multiple avenues. They updated the Tejano sound a bit with modern, at the time, R&B influences, which helped it cross over and resonate with people who weren’t familiar with regional Tex-Mex music and did so in a way that was seamless and natural. I do believe she was well on her way to even bigger crossover territory, with collaborations with people like David Byrne, and would have continued to push the envelope musically and culturally to this day. She was just beginning to really branch out before her life was tragically taken. 

She Broke Barriers And Opened Doors For Next-Gen Artists

Angie Romero (Senior Editor, U.S. Latin Music Culture and Editorial at Spotify): Back in the day, artists like Selena had to fight hard against systemic barriers, many of which still exist today. But because of artists like Selena, Gloria Estefan and others, the door for the next generation has been cracked open, and it will forever stay open. Young Latinas can dream of doing anything they want to do in the world, and they don’t ever have to stay inside a box, either — they can do it all, just like Selena did.

iLe (artist): Society makes us get used to the same things so much that we don’t notice what we’re seeking until it suddenly appears. We as women have a voice that should be heard and acknowledged. Selena became a female figure that Tejano and Latin pop music needed and I think she succeeded by not being afraid of being herself

Selena Wins Best Mexican-American Album

Jennifer D’Cunha (Apple Music): Selena broke barriers for women in Latin music. She created her own lane in the male-dominated Tejano music scene, and successfully took the genre to new heights. Whether it was cumbias, traditional Tejano or pop, she made her unique sound mainstream in Latin music. She thrived not by trying to conform, but by pushing the boundaries, following her intuition and playing by her own rules. Her spirit lives on and continues to inspire.

Pabllo Vittar (artist): For me, she was the first Latin diva going global! She was gorgeous and unique! I was born a year before she passed away, but I remember my mom listening to her music and I could watch her videos some years later. She was an icon that comes to mind when we talk about letting the uniqueness of your culture shine through you, and she was an example of how you can take a specific and regional rhythm and work your way into the industry. 

Jesse Baez (Guatemalan contemporary urban/R&B artist): I think the most important thing people should know is that you can live forever through music. You know, Selena passed away when she was 23, so she was incredibly young, and in spite of that, she’s still relevant in 2020, maybe more than before. I think people should know that you can live forever if you do something with passion and enjoy what you do—that’s what I would take from her. 

Girl Ultra (artist): She had such a big female strength that still empowers upcoming generations. She embraced her roots and her femininity in ways that Mexican culture was not very used to. She also gave Mexican weddings and parties many anthems.

La Doña (artist): Selena was able to supersede systemic barriers for many different reasons; one of those is her raw talent and passion. It is impossible to ignore the sheer amount of energy she put behind not only every song and every performance, but also all of her other creative ventures. Unfortunately, however, we have seen that that is rarely enough for a young star such as Selena to achieve success in the way that she did. 

I think that a huge contributor to this success was the support and contributions of her family. Though working with one’s family is never simple or easy—speaking from the perspective of someone who grew up playing Tejano music in a family band—it is also grounding and supportive in a way that you won’t experience from a different type of team. 

The last element of this perfect storm that vaulted Selena into super stardom is that the music industry needed her. The huge Latinx population within the United States needed her; the market existed but it was largely ignored until Selena revealed it, and then there was no going back. She opened a door to a market and created an entire Latinx enclave within the pop industry that would always exist as her legacy.

Her Music Still Strikes A Chord Today

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Kate Carey (McNay Art Museum): “Como La Flor” is one of the greatest songs ever, and if I have done anything right as a parent, it is that my kids know this song by heart. 

Kali Uchis (artist): My favorite songs are “No Me Queda Más” and “Como La Flor”—because I like to dance and cry.

Angie Romero (Spotify): It’s so hard to choose a favorite! But “Como La Flor” is just a perfect song, with the perfect metaphor, and it was also special to her and the band because it was their breakthrough hit in the U.S. and Mexico, reaching No. 6 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart [in 1992]. When she sings the opening notes of that song, live at the Astrodome, and drags out the word “flooor,” then moves her hand beautifully like a flamenco dancer, it gives me chills and makes me teary-eyed every time! I also just love that line about “me marcho hoy, yo se perder” [“I’m leaving today, I know how to lose”]. It’s a different take on a broken heart in the sense that you aren’t just wallowing in sadness, but you accept it and move on, similarly to other iconic songs that I love that also take the high road, like “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt

iLe (artist): I have many Selena classics that I love, but I would have to say “Techno Cumbia” [is my favorite] because it reminds me of a little dance that I used to do with my cousin, Beatriz, when we were kids.

Jesse Baez (artist): I feel like “No Me Queda Mas” is the only ballad that I can go back to and not feel weird about liking. It just became a permanent song in connection to my childhood. Even though it’s sad, and there are a bunch of other Selena songs that I also love, I like how this song goes against everything else I tend to like, so I will pick that song forever.

Jennifer D’Cunha (Apple Music): Selena’s [2003] Live: The Last Concert is one of my favorite concert films of all time. Selena’s charisma onstage, her vocals, the energy from her fans and that fierce purple jumpsuit make this one of the most iconic live performances ever.

Leila Cobo (Billboard): “Amor Prohibido” is my favorite Selena song. It’s a beautiful story, a timeless song, timeless lyrics. It’s a song that will forever be relevant.

A New Generation Of Artists And Fans Continues Her Legacy

Leila Cobo (Billboard): While Selena’s music traveled internationally, her real influence lies in her impact within the United States. Because she was a homegrown star, she was widely recognized both by Latin and non-Latin fans. Selena was an anomaly: Bilingual and bicultural, she not only looked like her fans, she was like them. That relatability was transformative for Latin pop culture.

Thanks to Selena, for the first time, perhaps ever, U.S.-born Latinas had a role model they could aspire to be. Two generations later, Selena’s impact is tangible. Dozens of prominent figures—from Becky G to Jennifer Lopez to Leslie Grace to Selena Gomez—point to Selena as their direct influence. Selena’s legacy has been fundamental in creating a new movement of U.S.-born Latin artists who today, 25 years after her death, are collectively reaping success and still naming her as the precursor of their achievements.

Girl Ultra (artist): I feel like any Latina making music since then is part of her legacy. We’re fighting for the same cause: breaking paradigms about how ”Latino music” should sound or look like and breaking with the objectification and the so-called “fetish” of Latinas all over the world.

Linda Wilvang (the Recording Academy): Selena made Tejano music cool! Moreover, she was able to fiercely and creatively convey her passion for the genre, and this you can attest by watching any of her performances. She truly loved her craft, her fans—she loved life. Selena’s legacy has endured to this day and will continue, thanks to her family and fans who lovingly have kept her music and spirit alive for 25 years and beyond. 

Marisol “La Marisoul” Hernandez (Lead vocalist of GRAMMY-winning Los Angeles band La Santa Cecilia): When I first witnessed Selena, I was blown away by her amazing vocal skills. It was so inspiring to see a brown, curvaceous woman be so confident and commanding onstage. I could see myself in her, and that was so empowering! At that time, as a teenager, I, too, had dreams of one day becoming a singer myself. Her beautiful music introduced me to the Tejano music genre, which I began to follow. I admired her presence in a mostly male-dominated music scene and soon became a loyal fan. 

Watching her interpret regional Mexican music in Spanish really moved me to continue my personal journey. When I saw an interview with her and [saw] the way she spoke Spanish with her Mexican-American accent, that’s what really got me. She spoke the way I spoke. She was a Mexican-American female musician dominating the Tejano, regional Mexican music scene, and at the same time, you could hear in her voice that American R&B style that I would hear later in the [1995 album], Dreaming Of You. That’s what made her so special to me and such an inspiration.

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Kate Carey (McNay Art Museum): I love visiting the McNay on weekends when I’m not really working. The first weekend of the Selena Forever/Siempre Selena exhibition at the McNay, my parents were visiting; I wanted to show them what I was working on. We saw visitors throughout the museum wearing Selena fan memorabilia. One older gentleman wore a T-shirt that read, Selena es mi reina [Selena is my queen]. Similarly, a young mother encouraged her daughter to pose like Selena in the photos. I don’t know why her music is so timeless, but I know that it is, and it’s very obvious to me the reverence Selena fans have for her music and her image. 

The Enduring Beauty Of Selena’s Legacy

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Study Shows African American Men with Advanced Prostate Cancer Treated with PROVENGE® (sipuleucel-T) Live Longer than Caucasian Men

SEAL BEACH, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Mar 12, 2020–

Dendreon Pharmaceuticals, a commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company and pioneer in the development of immunotherapy, today announced findings from a sub-analysis of data from its PROCEED registry comparing overall survival (OS) in African American (AA) and Caucasian (CAU) men with metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) who were treated with PROVENGE ® (sipuleucel-T) in a real-world treatment setting.

When comparing PSA-matched AA men to CAU men with a baseline PSA less than or equal to the median (29.48 ng/mL), AA men in the PROCEED registry demonstrated a median OS of over 4.5 years (54.3 months) versus over 2.7 years (33.4 months) for CAU men – an improvement of 20.9 months and a 48% relative risk reduction in death. 1,2

“Racial differences in the effectiveness of treatments in mCRPC are well documented,” said Oliver Sartor, M.D., co-lead author of the publication, associate dean for oncology at Tulane University School of Medicine and medical director of the Tulane Cancer Center. “The high percentage of AA men enrolled in PROCEED compared to other trials provided a unique opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of immunotherapy in extending survival in this patient population.”

The PROCEED registry enrolled nearly 2,000 patients with mCRPC who received PROVENGE between 2011 and 2014 in everyday treatment settings, and followed them for three years. Approximately 12% of patients enrolled in PROCEED were AA. This analysis compared OS in a subset of AA patients (n=107) and CAU patients (n=222) matched by baseline PSA. 3

“Black men tend to present with aggressive prostate cancer and have twice the mortality rate as compared to white men,” said Andrew J. Armstrong, M.D., co-lead author of the publication, professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine and member of the Duke Cancer Institute. “However, in the context of immunotherapy for men with mCRPC, we observe that black men have significantly improved overall survival as compared to similar white men. While we do not yet understand the reasons for this improved survival by self-identified race, these data provide evidence to support the early use of sipuleucel-T immunotherapy regardless of race in order to improve long-term survival.”

PROCEED evaluated the real-world use of PROVENGE in men with asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic mCRPC. These data were published online in Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases (PCAN) , a peer-reviewed Nature Research journal. The publication in PCAN is the first time these sub-group data have been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

“These findings add to the growing body of published clinical evidence that PROVENGE extends life in men with mCRPC and underscore its added effectiveness in African American men,” said Bruce A. Brown, M.D., chief medical officer at Dendreon. “No other prostate cancer treatment has shown this level of added benefit in African American men with mCRPC, so these findings are exciting.”

About the PROCEED Registry

PROCEED (NCT01306890) was a multicenter, open-label, observational registry conducted at urology and medical oncology clinics in private practice and academic sites. PROCEED enrolled 1,976 patients with mCRPC, of whom 1,902 received PROVENGE between 2011 and 2014 in everyday treatment settings. Of these, approximately 12% were African American. In the entire PROCEED population, patients were followed for a median of 46.6 months. Their median age was 72 years and their median baseline PSA was 15.0 ng/mL. The sub-analysis published in PCAN compared OS in a subset of African American patients (n=219) and Caucasian patients (n=438) matched by baseline PSA.

About Prostate Cancer in African American Men

Prostate cancer is the most frequently occurring non-cutaneous cancer among men in the United States and is second only to lung cancer among the leading causes of cancer-related deaths. In 2020, an estimated 191,930 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 33,330 men will die from the disease. 4

African American men have the highest prostate cancer incidence rate of any racial or ethnic group in the world. 5 In the United States, the risk of prostate cancer is 74% higher in black men than non-Hispanic white men. 6 The incidence of prostate cancer is about 60% higher in blacks than in whites for reasons that remain unclear. 4 Prostate cancer death rates in blacks are more than double those of every other racial and ethnic group in the United States. 4

About PROVENGE ® (sipuleucel-T)

PROVENGE is the only FDA-approved immunotherapy made from a patient’s own immune cells for the treatment of prostate cancer. More than 30,000 men have been prescribed PROVENGE, and it has been clinically proven to extend life for certain men in advanced stages of the disease.

INDICATION

PROVENGE is an autologous cellular immunotherapy indicated for the treatment of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic metastatic castrate-resistant (hormone-refractory) prostate cancer.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

Acute Infusion Reactions: Acute infusion reactions (reported within 1 day of infusion) may occur and include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, fever, rigor or chills, respiratory events (dyspnea, hypoxia, and bronchospasm), syncope, hypotension, hypertension, and tachycardia.

Thromboembolic Events: Thromboembolic events, including deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, can occur following infusion of PROVENGE. The clinical significance and causal relationship are uncertain. Most patients had multiple risk factors for these events. PROVENGE should be used with caution in patients with risk factors for thromboembolic events.

Vascular Disorders: Cerebrovascular events (hemorrhagic/ischemic strokes and transient ischemic attacks) and cardiovascular disorders (myocardial infarctions) have been reported following infusion of PROVENGE. The clinical significance and causal relationship are uncertain. Most patients had multiple risk factors for these events.

Handling Precautions: PROVENGE is not tested for transmissible infectious diseases.

Concomitant Chemotherapy or Immunosuppressive Therapy: Chemotherapy or immunosuppressive agents (such as systemic corticosteroids) given concurrently with the leukapheresis procedure or PROVENGE has not been studied. Concurrent use of immune-suppressive agents may alter the efficacy and/or safety of PROVENGE.

Adverse Reactions: The most common adverse reactions reported in clinical trials (≥ 15% of patients receiving PROVENGE) were chills, fatigue, fever, back pain, nausea, joint ache, and headache.

Click here for full Prescribing Information.

About Dendreon

Dendreon is a commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company and pioneer in the development of treatments that harness the power of the immune system to extend life. Dendreon’s flagship product, PROVENGE ® (sipuleucel-T), was the first FDA-approved immunotherapy made from a patient’s own immune cells. More than 30,000 men with advanced prostate cancer have been prescribed PROVENGE in the U.S. since 2010. Dendreon also is evaluating the use of PROVENGE in early-stage prostate cancer, with the hope of curing more men of the disease. Dendreon is headquartered in Seal Beach, Calif. For more information, please visit www.dendreon.com.

—————————————————————————————————

1 Median OS in PSA-matched subjects with a baseline PSA < 29.48 ng/mL was 54.3 months for African American men and 33.4 months for Caucasian men. Median OS in men with a baseline PSA >29.48 ng/mL was 22.7 months for African American men and 17.6 months for Caucasian men.

2 PROCEED was a registry to evaluate the safety of PROVENGE in a real-world setting whereby all patients received PROVENGE and there was no control group. The study was conducted to quantify the risk of cerebrovascular events and survival. Patients may have received subsequent anti-cancer interventions per the local investigator’s standard of care. This sub-group analysis of the PROCEED registry was exploratory and results need careful interpretation.

3 Sartor O, et al. Overall Survival Analysis of African American and Caucasian Patients Receiving Sipuleucel-T: Preliminary Data from the PROCEED Registry. Presented at the 2017 American Urological Association (AUA) Annual Meeting; May 13, 2017; Boston, Mass.

4 American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2020.. Accessed 20Mar2. LINK.

5 JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 89, Issue 3, 5 February 1997, Pages 188–189. Accessed 27Nov18. LINK.

6 Cancer.net/ASCO. Prostate Cancer Statistics. Accessed 22Jan19. LINK

View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200312005148/en/

CONTACT: Media Contact

Leslie Bryant

leslie.bryant@dendreon.com

T +1.562.505.9290

KEYWORD: CALIFORNIA UNITED STATES NORTH AMERICA

INDUSTRY KEYWORD: BIOTECHNOLOGY HEALTH PHARMACEUTICAL CLINICAL TRIALS ONCOLOGY

SOURCE: Dendreon Pharmaceuticals

Copyright Business Wire 2020.

PUB: 03/12/2020 09:00 AM/DISC: 03/12/2020 09:00 AM

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Passing of Professor David C. Driskell

Dear Prince George’s Arts Community,

The Driskell Center has just informed the community of the passing of Professor David C. Driskell on April 1st, 2020 at the age of 89. Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council sends its condolences to Professor Driskell’s family and friends. We honor the life and legacy of one of the world’s leading authorities on African-American Art.

Professor David C. Driskell

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Trump’s new reporter-foe says he’s backtracking to save himself after downplaying the worst crisis in recent history

During an MSNBC panel discussion, President Donald Trump’s latest reporter-foe, Yamiche Alcindor of PBS, explained that it’s clear he’s backtracking after he downplayed the coronavirus crisis.

The president’s greatest foe in the press room was once CNN’s Jim Acosta, but as the PBS reporter quotes Trump’s own words back to him, he’s twice singled her out, calling her question “nasty” and referring to her and a fellow African American reporter “you people.”

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MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace said that referring back to Trump’s words downplaying the crisis have become his latest emotional triggers.

“I think the president in some ways is having to backtrack on some of the misleading information that was put out there,” Alcindor said.

Trump has lately decided to blame healthcare workers for the coronavirus crisis, alleging that they are somehow selling masks and ventilators “out the back door.” Or questioning their need for protective equipment.

“Dr. Wen made a great point, which is that we can’t build new doctors and nurses and health care professionals,” continued Alcindor. “But what the president was doing was openly questioning whether or not what they said they needed they actually needed. That goes for a tweet today where you point out, Nicolle, that he’s talking about insatiable appetites and some are complainers when the people we’re hearing from are emergency room doctors, nurses.”

Trump is likely getting this information from son-in-law Jared Kushner, who said in one meeting that he knows better about what hospitals need than the doctors on the ground do because he’s doing the math from his White House office, Vanity Fair reported.

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“I have all this data about ICU capacity. I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators,” Kushner said, according to a person present at the meeting.

“The president has to deal with the fact that very early on he was saying this was like the flu and then yesterday and a few days ago decided to say, ‘it’s worse than the flu, it’s vicious,’” Alcindor recalled. “I think what the president is really dealing with is the fact that he was trying to downplay this virus and hope for the best and he said he was trying to be positive in his description. But at the end of the day he downplayed the worst health care and economic crisis Americans have faced and he has to deal with that every day as he tries to now get people to really believe that he’s telling them the truth this time around.”

Watch the panel discussion below:

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Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].

Black Communities Nationwide Hit Hard by COVID-19

Wisconsin’s Gov. Tony Evers set many heads nodding across the nation when he spoke of the plight of people in Milwaukee.
“The severity of this disease in the African American community is a crisis within a crisis,” said Gov. Evers.  
He voiced what many have been thinking, seeing, and living: that the eye of the storm of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is wherever Black people are found in tight concentration and financial hardship. The virus – called “Big Rona” in creative and colorful Black vernacular – has been devastating to countless populations worldwide. In the U.S. it’s the poor and working poor, the incarcerated, the educationally disenfranchised and immigrant communities that are suffering the greatest losses. And Black people in these United States comprise the majority in four out of these five categories.

Maryland State Delegate Nick Mosby

Here in Brooklyn we are familiar with the ways in which these dynamics play out. And we know that just as we were strongly encouraged at every turn to fill out the 2020 Census, being counted as people affected by the coronavirus is also critically important. It matters now and matters heading into the future that is life beyond COVID-19.
In Milwaukee, where Black people are 38% of the population, they represent half the confirmed cases of COVID-19 and half of the deaths. Residents say that in some areas of the city, grocery stores, healthcare options and even public transportation are not easily accessible.
Also concerned about this is Commissioner of Health for the City of Milwaukee, Jeanette Kowalik.
“African Americans in Milwaukee face other socioeconomic challenges that can impact a person’s health,” said Kowalik. “We must remember now and in the future that public health goes beyond just diagnosis and treatment and should be considered more holistically.”
Maryland State Delegate Nick Mosby, in a series of social media posts, insisted that the federal government release data on the number of coronavirus cases broken down by race. “… I have asked multiple sources about the demographic breakdown by race of known COVID-19 cases and deaths.” Mosby posted on Twitter. “I have seen county, age, and sex, but not race.”
Mosby is concerned about cities such as Baltimore, which is 60% Black and is where community residents are painfully acquainted with the city’s infamous medical experimentation and profiteering using the body of Henrietta Lacks. He also expressed that implicit bias in the healthcare delivery system may compound the difficulties that communities of color face in accessing testing and treatment.
“Because of the stress that this pandemic will place on hospital capacity,” he told The Baltimore Sun, “this will have an adverse impact on populations who are less likely to have insurance and primary-care physicians.”
In Detroit, medical anthropologist Jonathan Stillo of Wayne State University concurs that racial demographic info might help lessen this impact.
“Right now, we’re only seeing little snapshots, and those are totally dependent on how much testing is happening,” he told Michigan Radio, the local NPR station. “It makes the job of researchers, and folks who are trying to figure out what’s going on and make policy to address it, really hard. We’re flying blind, I think, in a lot of ways.”
What is known does not inspire confidence that Detroit can efficiently meet the needs of the Black community without access to the data being requested.
“African American folks in Detroit have higher rates of asthma, they have higher rates of diabetes, they have higher rates of some of these conditions that we think may make outcomes worse,” Stillo said. “You’re sort of layering biological problems on top of already-existing social problems. Issues of lack of health care, lack of insurance, unstable housing, and things like that.”

Trump campaign demands Sessions stop tying campaign to president

WASHINGTON – President Trump’s re-election campaign sent a scathing letter to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week, calling him “delusional” for tying himself to the president in his current Senate campaign and demanding it stop circulating any mailers that imply Trump supports his bid. 

The Trump campaign specifically called out Sessions’ team for an advertisement that mentioned the president by name 22 times and “even makes the delusional assertion that you are President ‘Trump’s #1 Supporter.’”

“We only assume your campaign is doing this to confuse President Trump’s loyal supporters in Alabama into believing the President supports your candidacy in the upcoming primary run-off election. Nothing could be further from the truth,” wrote Trump campaign chief operating officer Michael Glassner in a letter obtained by NBC News. 

The New York Times first reported on the letter. 

Trump endorsed former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, Sessions’ primary opponent, last month after the two men advanced to a runoff. Aides close to the president had tried to get him to hold off on slamming Sessions until after the primary, which Trump did, until the morning after.

The president famously told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd that the single “biggest mistake” of his administration was appointing Sessions as attorney general and wishes he would have made that decision differently. 

June 23, 201901:03

Sessions, for his part, has repeatedly complimented Trump in this race, tweeting adoring videos and reminding voters that he was the first senate backer of then-candidate Trump back in 2016.

 The Trump campaign letter to Sessions includes text from the president’s tweets in mid-March endorsing Tuberville, with bolded emphasis added to underscore the point.

 “We want to be absolutely clear about it: President Trump and the Trump Campaign unambiguously endorse Tommy Tuberville,” the letter included, with a stark warning at the end. “We demand that you and your campaign immediately stop circulating mailers—or any other similar communication—that wrongly suggest otherwise.”

Session’s team did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment, but spokeswoman Gail Glitcho told the New York Times that “Alabamans don’t like to be told what to do,” pointing to the 2017 Alabama special election where Trump’s preferred candidates lost the GOP primary and the general election. She went onto argue that Sessions is “indeed one of the strongest supporters of President Trump and his agenda.” 

The Alabama Senate race has now been postponed until July 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tweet the Press talks with NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres

WASHINGTON — In case you missed today’s Tweet the Press, we spoke with NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres about the latest on coronavirus. 

The wide-ranging discussion touched on what to expect across the country, how the virus is affecting young people, whether Americans should wear masks and what to expect about the treatments being explored. 

Click on the link here to read the full conversation on Twitter

With Biden or Sanders at the top of the ticket, Democrats look down-ballot for diversity

WASHINGTON — With the party’s presidential race having been whittled down from a historically diverse field to two white men, Democrats are pointing to at least one bright spot when it comes to diversity among their candidates in 2020: state legislative elections.

According to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), which aims to elect Democratic state legislators nationwide, there are over twice as many Democratic women serving as state delegates or senators compared to their Republican counterparts — 1,455 versus 670 respectively. And in some key battleground states, the party has recruited more diverse candidates considering race and sexual identity than the GOP.

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn shakes hands with Gov. Ralph Northam before his State of the Commonwealth address at the Virginia State Capitol on Jan. 8, 2020 in Richmond, Va.Zach Gibson / Getty Images file

DLCC president, Jessica Post, told NBC News in a recent phone interview that diversity matters because it energizes the Democratic base and leads to victories.

“Diversity is our winning strategy,” she said. “We’ve recruited great communities thinking about the voices that need to be represented.”

The efforts to attract a diverse field of candidates is especially crucial in states where election outcomes will affect congressional redistricting. For example, the DLCC reports that Democrats are running eight LGBTQ+ candidates for the Texas state House versus none for Republicans. There are 20 Democratic candidates of color seeking seats in the North Carolina state Senate compared to Republicans’ six. For the state House there, 40 Democratic minority candidates are running against the GOP’s single candidate of color.

The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) — the DLCC’s counterpart — did not respond to NBC News’ request to confirm these numbers but answered several other questions last week, saying they are supporting candidates of various backgrounds in pivotal states.

The RSLC reports that over fifty Republican women are running for Pennsylvania’s state legislature while in Florida, there are about 30 GOP minority candidates. In Georgia, almost 40 Republican women along with four Asian-American and two African-American candidates are seeking state seats, according to the GOP committee. 

RSLC communications director, Stami Williams, said these examples reflect the GOP’s “great success” in recruiting diverse candidates and noted that Democrats flipped less than half the amount of legislative seats during Trump’s first three years than Republicans did in the same period under President Obama. 

The DLCC’s Post argues that the GOP views legislative diversity as a mere “add-on” to their agenda, saying that the party has “fallen down on the job.”

Yet despite growing diversity down-ballot, Democrats face criticism for lacking diversity at the party’s upper echelons after the most minority and female-heavy field narrowed down to two older, heterosexual, white men — former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

For Post, the boost in state-level Democratic diversity isn’t purely a reaction to the party’s dilemma at the top. She believes that Trump and his party have been “repellent to women and people of color,” and have motivated diverse candidates to run for state office.

The DLCC president said that she’s encouraged by Biden’s commitment to choose a female running mate. 

Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang arrive onstage for the fifth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia on November 20, 2019. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP – Getty Images

“We would’ve loved to see many of these diverse candidates stay longer in the presidential field,” Post stated. “I do think it’s notable that we have a direct way to point to our state legislative pipeline of diversity right now with Stacey Abrams [former Georgia state minority leader] potentially being a vice presidential nominee.” 

Director of the Center for American Women and Politics, Debbie Walsh, told NBC News last week that an “almost primal” desperation to beat Trump this election drove Democratic primary voters to make a “calculated choice” to back candidates they deemed electable — not personally preferable.

These voters, Walsh emphasized, assumed that nontraditional presidential candidates couldn’t defeat Trump. She pointed to the spike in down-ticket diversity as evidence that less conventional candidates can win. 

State legislative primaries began in March and will continue through September. The results of the November general elections will significantly impact the 2021 congressional redistricting cycle. 

Biden leads Sanders in Wisconsin primary poll

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden is leading Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by over 30 points in Wisconsin, according to the latest Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday. Per this poll, Biden garnered 65 percent support among likely Democratic voters versus Sanders’ 32 percent support.

Wisconsin’s primary, which is still scheduled to take place on April 7 despite the coronavirus pandemic, is one of the only contests still taking place in April — and it could be a stunning defeat for Sanders. In 2016, Sanders won the Wisconsin primary by 14 points. On Wednesday, Sanders called for the Wisconsin primary to be postponed, have early voting extended and encouraged people to vote by mail. 

Despite lagging poll numbers, Sanders has said he will continue to assess his campaign and stay in the race. On Wednesday he said on MSNBC, “We’re taking a hard look at our campaign. We do have a narrow road, a path to victory. It’s going to be a tough fight.” 

Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic at an event in Wilmington, Del., on March 12, 2020.Carlos Barria / Reuters file

Biden has since said that there isn’t a need for more Democratic debates, but that he will not call for Sanders to exit the race. 

The new poll also shows Biden just narrowly pushing ahead of President Trump in a general election match-up, where Sanders lags slightly behind Trump. Forty-eight percent of registered voters support Biden in a general election, with 45 percent supporting the president — however that falls within the poll’s 4.2-point margin of error. The poll’s February tracker showed the president and Biden tied in the state. 

Wisconsin could become a must-win state for both the president and the eventual Democratic nominee. President Trump was the first Republican nominee to win Wisconsin since former President Ronald Reagan in 1984. And much of Biden’s campaign has been focused on restoring the so-called “Blue Wall” in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. 

Laid off Bloomberg staffers docked taxes for campaign phones, computers

WASHINGTON — Laid off campaign staffers to Michael Bloomberg’s campaign who received their final paychecks on Tuesday were docked hundreds of dollars to cover taxes on their campaign-issued cellphone and laptop, three former Bloomberg campaign staffers told NBC News.

The deductions came as a lawsuit against the Bloomberg campaign, alleging that the campaign fraudulently promised jobs through November, has grown from one plaintiff to more than 50. The plaintiffs are seeking to get the case certified as a class action in seven states, a move that could raise the number of claimants to over a thousand.  

Former staffers told NBC News that their paychecks were docked more than $400. The Bloomberg campaign had touted how they had lured top talent to the campaign with new iPhone 11s and MacBooks, and offered to let staff keep them when they were let go. A campaign spokesperson said staffers were told during the off-boarding process that they’d pay taxes on those items, but several former staffers said they did not realize that it would be automatically deducted from their remaining paychecks.

Mike Bloomberg greets Jewish voters at Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center in Aventura, Fla. on Jan. 26, 2020.Andrew Uloza / AP file

Sally Abrahamson, an attorney for the former staffers suing the campaign, said her firm, Outten & Golden, is now investigating the campaign’s deduction of “purported taxes on cell phones and laptops.”

“It doesn’t sound right. How can workers be expected to pay taxes on something they didn’t want?” Abrahamson told NBC News. “The law certainly doesn’t allow an employer to pay wages with anything but money.”

Earlier this month, Bloomberg abandoned his initiative to form an independent super PAC to absorb his presidential campaign and instead transferred $18 million to the Democratic National Committee. He laid off his staff of more than 2,400 people in that process and those staff members were invited to enter a competitive hiring process for a job at the DNC. Laid off staff will lose their health insurance at the end of April amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The lawsuit, filed by a former field organizer, alleges that Bloomberg’s campaign promised potential hires they’d have jobs through November regardless of who won the nomination. Many of the 50 additional plaintiffs who joined the lawsuit in an amended complaint filed in federal court Monday said they left other lucrative jobs and relocated across the country based on the campaign’s assurances.

A Bloomberg campaign spokesperson, responding to both the docked paychecks and the expanded lawsuit, re-issued the campaign’s statement from earlier in March. 

“This campaign paid its staff wages and benefits that were much more generous than any other campaign this year,” the spokesperson said. “Staff worked 39 days on average, but they were also given several weeks of severance and healthcare  through March, something no other campaign did this year.”

Democratic groups significantly outspending GOP groups on airwaves since coronavirus crackdown

WASHINGTON — Democratic candidates and aligned groups are outspending their Republican counterparts in the two weeks since President Trump announced guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. 

There’s been $23.5 million spent on political advertising from March 16 (the day the administration announced its “15 Days to Slow the Spread” guidelines) through Tuesday, with Democrats making up 69 percent of that ($16.2 million), Republicans making up 29 percent of that ($6.7 million), and independent groups filling in that last 2 percent. 

All of these figures are from the ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics. 

Four of the top five biggest spenders over this period were Democrats:

  • Senate Majority PAC, the group aligned with Senate Democrats, has spent $3 million
  • Priorities USA Action, which is backing former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential bid, has spent $2.8 million
  • One Nation, the non-profit aligned with Republican efforts particularly in the Senate, has spent $1.7 million
  • American Bridge 21st Century, the Democratic-aligned group that plays up and down the ballot, has spent $1.3 million
  • And Unite the Country, the pro-Biden super PAC, has spent $741,000

The ad backed by the most spending in that window was from Priorities USA, which is running an ad that’s criticizing Trump’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. It’s spent $1.2 million to run that spot so far. 

The ad with the second-most money behind it is from Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, attacking Biden on Social Security and Medicare. Although both Biden and Sanders have wound down their ad spending to a virtual halt recently, Sanders spent $620,000 to run the ad over the time period. Virtually all of that came in the days surrounding the March 17 primaries, the ad has barely run since. 

The Republican-aligned ad with the most spending behind it in recent weeks has been from One Nation, a spot that plays up Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst’s work on prescription drugs. That spot has had $333,000 behind it since March 16. 

During this time period, the top markets were the Portland-Aurburn market in Maine, Phoenix, and two markets in Florida covering Orlando and Tampa.

Maine is home to GOP Sen. Susan Collins’ re-election race; Arizona held its presidential primary on March 17 and has a competitive Senate race; and Florida also held its presidential primary on March 17.

Physician embraces his expertise while campaigning in the coronavirus era

WASHINGTON — As candidates across the country adjust to campaigning in the age of coronavirus, Dr. Cameron Webb sees an opportunity and is embracing his experiences as a physician and public health expert on the trail. 

“It’s necessary to have the range of professional backgrounds represented in our legislature,” Webb told NBC News in a recent phone interview. “I think the expertise that I have is really useful in a moment like this.” 

Dr. Cameron Webb.Dr. Cameron Webb for Congress

Webb hopes to be the first Democrat to fill Virginia’s fifth congressional seat since 2008, a GOP-held district the size of New Jersey that includes Charlottesville and much of central Virginia. A practicing physician and a public health sciences director at the University of Virginia’s medical school, he has made expanding affordable health care a major focus of his career and campaign. 

“My job is to walk into rooms and ask people where it hurts,” Webb explained. “When you have a district that’s this diverse, that’s this broad, you have to be a really skilled listener in order to meet everybody’s needs.” 

So far, the candidate thinks this strategy of listening to voters like he does with patients has been effective, and that his background allows him and his campaign to “model the leadership” required during the coronavirus crisis. 

Webb, who serves on Virginia’s Medicaid board, remarked that he’s grateful for his state’s 2019 Medicaid expansion as the pandemic takes a toll on patients and businesses.

The candidate previously worked under both Presidents Obama and Trump as a White House Fellow serving on the health care team and a drug pricing task force. When speaking to NBC News, he compared Obama’s track record on public health to Trump’s, commenting that there are “very clear differences” in how this pandemic would play out under the former president.

Although Webb stressed that he won’t use the novel coronavirus as political leverage, he argued that the crisis reveals “other fault lines” in society and called out the American health care system for failing people. 

“We’re seeing the lack of access to health care through the lens of this virus,” he said. 

Republican candidate for Virginia governor, Denver Riggleman, speaks during a news conference at the Capitol in Richmond, Virginia, Jan. 31, 2017.Steve Helber / AP

The fifth district is widely-considered a likely Republican seat and includes counties that pivoted from pro-Obama to pro-Trump but Webb doesn’t view the race as an “uphill battle.” The physician must beat out four other candidates in the Democratic primary before facing expected GOP competitor, Rep. Denver Riggleman, who won the district by almost seven percentage points in 2018. 

The Riggleman campaign did not respond to a request for comment but the congressman’s Virginia distillery, Silverback, recently began producing hand sanitizer, which it’s offering for free to first responders and health care workers during the coronavirus outbreak.

Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the UVA Center for Politics, told NBC News last week that Republicans are favored to win the district but that it’s competitive enough to elect a Democrat “under the right circumstances.” He noted that Webb may “fit the moment.”

The Democratic primary is currently scheduled for June 9 and the district is on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s list of seats it aims to flip from red to blue.

Sanders: ‘There is a path’ to the nomination

READINGTON, N.J. — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has been coy as of late about the future of his presidential campaign, told “Late Night” host Seth Myers on Monday he believes “there is a path” for him to win the Democratic nomination.

Sanders currently trails former Vice President Joe Biden by 312 delegates according to NBC News’ delegate tracker, and most of the Democratic primary races that occur in April have been pushed to later this Spring or Summer due to the coronavirus pandemic. But on Monday, Sanders touted his grassroots support which helped him earned first place finishes in a number of the early voting states, including delegate-rich California. 

“There is a path. It is admittedly a narrow path,” Sanders said. 

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He added, “We have a strong grassroots movement who believe that we have got to stay in, in order to continue the fight to make the world know that we need Medicare for All, that we need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, that we need paid family and medical leave,” Sanders said. 

But Sanders did repeat his promise that he would support Biden if he himself is not the nominee.

“We’re seeing just how dangerous [President Trump] is with all of the misinformation that he is providing during this Coronavirus pandemic,” Sanders said, “So, yes, we have got to defeat Trump.”

Earlier this month when asked about the future of his campaign, Sanders said he was “focused” on coronavirus legislation, and heatedly told reporters that that he was not interested in answering campaign questions.

“I’m dealing with a f****** global crisis. You know? We’re dealing with it and you’re asking me these questions,” Sanders told reporters earlier this month. 

After suffering a series of losses in primary states in March, Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir told reporters the senator was “going to be having conversations with supporters to assess his campaign” from Burlington, Vt. which is where Sanders has been when he was not voting in the Senate. 

Republican, Democratic super PACs place initial ad buys in fight for Senate

WASHINGTON — Key Republican and Democratic super PACs have announced big spending plans in the fight for the Senate majority. 

Both the Senate Majority PAC and the Senate Leadership Fund, groups aligned with top Democratic and Republican leaders respectively, have announced their first round of television advertising investments in recent days. The groups are focusing on five of the same states — Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine and North Carolina — with Senate Leadership Fund spending in Kentucky as well. 

SLF is booking $67.1 million, the group announced in a press release last week. And SMP is booking $69.2 million, it said in a press release Monday. 

Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Jan. 15, 2019.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file

North Carolina is the beneficiary of the most early ad booking, with the Democratic SMP announcing plans to reserve $25.6 million there and the Republican SLF planning to book $21.8 million. There, Republican Sen. Thom Tillis will take on Democratic former state Sen. Cal Cunningham.

An NBC News/Marist University poll taken in late February of that race showed Cunningham up 5 points on Tillis among registered voters, 48 percent to 43 percent, within the margin of error. That poll took place just before the state’s primary. 

The race receiving the next-most early booking dollars is Iowa, where Republican Sen. Joni Ernst is defending her seat against whichever Democrat wins the primary currently scheduled for June 2.

Ernst’s favorability rating fell to 47 percent among Iowa adults in the March Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll, but 41 percent of likely voters said they’d definitely vote to re-elect Ernst compared to 31 percent who said they’d definitely vote for someone else. 

Close behind in that early-spending figure is Arizona, where SMP is booking $15.7 million and SLF is booking $9.2 million through an affiliate group called Defend Arizona. There, Republican Sen. Martha McSally is looking to win the rest of the term vacated by the death of the late Republican Sen. John McCain.

While McSally lost the state’s 2018 Senate race, she was appointed to fill McCain’s seat after his death. A recent Monmouth University poll had Kelly up 6 points over McSally among registered voters, within the margin of error. 

Then there’s Maine, which has already been home to a significant bevy of television ad spending by other outside groups. SMP is booking $9.6 million there while SLF is booking $7.2 million ahead as Republican Sen. Susan Collins seeks to defend her seat. The top Democrat in that race is state House Speaker Sarah Gideon, but Betsy Sweet, the former director of the Maine Women’s Lobby, is also running. 

The groups are also going toe-to-toe in Colorado, where Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is expected to take on former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. The Democratic SMP plans to book $5.2 million there, with the Republican SLF booking $5.5 million. 

And SLF is also putting $10.8 million in early television spending into Kentucky through another affiliated group, Keep Kentucky Great. There, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is running for reelection and will likely face off against Marine veteran Amy McGrath. 

These totals don’t include what’s expected to be a large digital presence by both groups, and the investments are likely to change as it gets closer to election day, with groups moving money around or injecting more money into competitive races. 

NYC Democratic House candidate announces positive COVID-19 test

WASHINGTON — New York City Democratic House candidate Suraj Patel has tested positive for COVID-19, he confirmed in a new statement Monday. 

Patel, one of the candidates featured in a recent MTP Blog story about how the new social distancing guidelines and the threat of coronavirus has fundamentally upended House campaigns, disclosed his positive test in a new statement posted on social media and on the blogging platform Medium

Suraj PatelSuraj Patel for Congress

He said he began developing symptoms earlier this month — which he described as “troubling tightness in my chest and difficulty breathing followed by a regular fever of 102 degrees. Patel lives with two doctors, one of whom is his brother, which he said underscored the need for him to test to see if had COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, so that his roommates would know whether they were at risk. 

Patel said that ultimately, he and his two housemates all tested positive. But he’s now “fully recovered” and “asymptomatic.”

“New Yorkers and Americans at large are stepping up in a tremendous unified way. We know how important it is to our most vulnerable populations that we slow the growth of this COVID epidemic. But as this becomes less abstract and more personal — when people’s loved ones start to show symptoms — human nature is such that we are going to want certainty and safety,” Patel wrote, before calling for universal COVID testing. 

“The only proven way to slow and eventually stop this pandemic is to have an accurate picture of who has had the disease, who currently has it, and who is still at risk. Social distancing and the strong leadership of Governor Cuomo and others is buying us vital time, but the question is what is our federal government doing with the time that the sacrifices of so many Americans are buying them?” he wrote. 

“If we fail to universally test, we face an indefinite amount of time in social distancing, only to see new cases of the virus arise when we ultimately return to normal life.”

Patel is running in the Democratic primary against longtime Rep. Carolyn Maloney. 

Texas Republicans back Lt. Governor on controversial coronavirus comments

HOUSTON — Republican leaders in Texas are defending Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s controversial comments on coronavirus as illustrative of his love of country, even as others see those comments as reckless amid a national crisis. 

Patrick, a Republican and popular former conservative radio host, drew headlines last week when he said he supported President Trump’s call to restart the U.S. economy as quickly as possible despite the ongoing spread of the virus.

The virus has proven most deadly to older people and those with underlying conditions, which means many of those being treated or hospitalized are elderly. Texas has almost 3,000 cases of Covid-19, the illness produced by the coronavirus, according to NBC News. Some 47 people have died.

Emphasizing the need to “get back to work,” Patrick told Fox News host Tucker Carlson, “those of us who are 70 plus, we’ll take care of ourselves, but don’t sacrifice the country.”

Patrick, who turns 70 this week, added, “No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that America loves for its children and grandchildren?’ And if that is the exchange, I’m all in.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick speaks in McAllen, Texas, on Jan. 10, 2019.Sergio Flores / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Patrick’s comments sparked backlash online, spurring hashtags including, #NotDyingforWallStreet and #TexasDeservesBetter. But in Texas, prominent Republicans said Patrick has a point.

“He’s really telling a story which is, you know, he wants to make sure there’s an American economy for people to come home to,” Houston area state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, 61, told NBC News. “That’s a big worry. The virus is a big worry, but then the next worry is, ‘do I have a job.’”

McKinney-area state Sen. Angela Paxton, 57, told NBC News: “We want to protect people and keep them healthy. Everyone is going to agree on that. How do we do it, that’s where there’s differences.”

She added, “But I think on the other hand, there’s no one that is going to say, it doesn’t matter if we destroy our economy.”

The mayor of Fort Worth, Betsy Price, a 70-year old grandmother of six, said that while the economy is a concern so is respect for the value of life. 

“My children and my grandchildren are certainly not ready for their Tootsie to go anywhere or to put myself at risk,” Price said.

“I don’t know what talent he would sacrifice? Is it young talent? Is it the experience in seniors? Or where is it?“ Price said. “I just can’t quite get a handle around that.”

Other Texas GOP leaders suggested Patrick had been talking about a sacrifice he would be willing to make — not asking the rest of the country to do so.

“He was talking about himself,” Denton-area state Sen. Pat Fallon, 52, said. “He perfectly has every right to say, ‘I love this country so much that I would sacrifice, if I had to, my own well-being, to ensure the prosperity and opportunity that I had that my kids and grandkids could have.’ And I think it’s very noble.”

Not everyone is convinced, particularly Republicans who have been critical of Trump’s pull on their party. 

“He’s a public official, he knows what he says has policy implications and it’s absurd to think that he just meant himself,” said Rick Tyler, a former aide to Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and MSNBC political analyst who has frequently criticized President Trump. 

John Weaver, a Texan and longtime Republican political strategist who has since founded a group that’s aimed at defeating Trump in November, argues Patrick wouldn’t actually be among the most vulnerable if restrictions were lifted. Texans who live along the US-Mexico border or lack access to adequate care, Weaver said, would be the ones who suffer.

“He’s talking about those people in the valley, who don’t have health insurance because they blocked the expansion of healthcare in this state. He’s talking about people in parts of Houston where, because of density and lack of healthcare, they’re more at risk.” Weaver said. “He’s not talking about himself.”

“There’s no real public policy out there where people are going to say, ‘Fine, we’ll get the economy moving again at the expense of 2 percent of the population,’” Weaver added.

In a statement released the day after the Fox News interview, Patrick seemed to reframe his message away from senior citizens potentially sacrificing their lives.

“When you close the doors of every business in America, you cannot help but destroy the economy and with it, the opportunity for the next generation to live the American dream,” the statement said.