The Status of the Next Stimulus Package

The situation in the US is dire across all fronts. From public health to the economy, hard working everyday Americans are suffering as COVID-19 spreads unchecked and cases reach new daily highs and workers and businesses desperate to support themselves place themselves in dangerous conditions to try to make ends meet.


The CARES Act was a bandaid without the necessary infrastructure to effectively distribute aid. Riddled with loopholes that diverted what should have been funds for small businesses and struggling citizens to big business and the top income earners, the provisions that allow recipients to tread water are coming to an end.  The unemployment expansion only runs through July, small business loans that didn’t cover costs to begin with are dwindling as the pandemic continues with no end in sight and a renters’ crisis with mass evictions is set to devastate upwards of 23 million inhabitants throughout the country when eviction freezes expire.


And that’s just the beginning.


Over 44 million Americans have filed for unemployment.  Many have not yet received anything from the outdated and overburdened unemployment systems or their $1200 stimulus checks, for that matter. Businesses have reopened and then been forced to close and then reopen in a macabre cycle as servers get sick while states stubbornly refuse to go back into a lockdown.


But how can you go into lockdown when the government won’t financially support its citizens during a crisis?  These are our tax dollars that are given freely to corporations as we are beaten over the head with disdain and accusations of handouts and laziness.


The HEROES Act passed the House but is dead in the Senate.  And while Trump is supportive of another stimulus check, the leadership in the Senate isn’t convinced and refuses to even begin discussions for a second stimulus bill until sometime in July.  And when they do finally get around to doing the job that we, as American citizens, pay them to do, Mitch McConnell doesn’t want anything passed that has more than $1 trillion in aid and is requiring a provision that ensures this next stimulus bill is the last–a dangerous and potentially catastrophic proposal as we deal with a crisis made infinitely worse by lack of competent government intervention and that has no end in sight.


Many representatives have advocated for actual solutions; $2,000 a month for households until the end of the crisis proposed by both Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Ro Khanna. The HEROES Act has options for debt relief, student loan relief, hazard pay, housing and food assistance. It extends the unemployment expansion for another 6 months and gives much needed funding to local governments.  It’s a good start, better than the CARES Act, but even if it passes (which looks extremely unlikely given some leaders’ reluctance to come to their country’s aid), the first stimulus bill showed us how poorly managed the implementation and roll out of these programs are.  What does a second stimulus check matter if you never got the first?


Clearly, there is much work to be done and endless obstacles.  As America teeters on the brink of systemic collapse, let us hope our lawmakers see that their self-preservation is tied to our own. We all go down with this ship.


Yours in Strength,

The Take Back Control Team

The Final Word on Masks

Since the pandemic began, masks have been a point of controversy.  Are they effective in limiting the spread of the virus? How effective? Can they be harmful? Who should be wearing them?  And what types of masks work best? Back and forth and over the background of the continuous spread of the virus, government officials, healthcare workers and the World Health Organization have sent mixed messages.  So what’s the final word?


First, we were told that only healthcare workers and those with underlying conditions should be wearing masks. This was for good reason.  At the time, Personal Protective Equipment was in short supply and the bulk of masks needed to be prioritized for frontline healthcare workers.  When Dr. Fauci was questioned by Congress in a recent hearing about whether he regretted the messaging about masks in the early stages of the pandemic, he said, “I do not regret that. Let me explain to you what happened. At that time, there was a paucity of equipment that our health care providers needed who put themselves daily in harm’s way of taking care of people who are ill.”  However, by late March as PPE became more widely available and it had become clear that people who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic were also contagious, everyone was advised to wear a face mask. 


Here’s the thing.  While the mixed messages may have been frustrating, masks, definitively and unquestionably, work.  In some cases, they have been shown to be an essential part in curtailing the spread, along with frequent handwashing and lockdowns.  And if America is going to insist on reopening, the least we can all do is wear a mask.  They are not harmful.  The masks worn by the general public will not cause hypercapnia–that has been thoroughly debunked.


Cloth masks may not be as good as N95 or professional grade masks, but they are still much, much better than nothing. After New York City began requiring masks in public settings, the new daily infection rates dropped by 3% each day.  A British study found that when 50% of a population regularly wore face masks, it “reduced COVID-19 spread to an R of less than 1.0, flattening future disease waves and allowing for less stringent lockdowns.”


Masks may be annoying and uncomfortable but mild discomfort in exchange for your health and the health of those around you is a no brainer and shouldn’t be the source of a national debate. Especially as states reopen and the American people go back to work where social distancing and limiting interactions to the open air is not possible. Enclosed spaces that people are stuck in are more likely to facilitate the spread of the virus and the 6 feet back rule does not apply to such areas where droplets can linger and saturate the confined dimensions of, for example, an office.

Be a patriot. Wear a mask.

To learn how to make a mask from home made materials as effective as possible, click here.


Yours in Strength,

The Take Back Control Team


The True Cause of COVID Spikes: Lack of Leadership

Across the US, COVID-19 rates are increasing, and hospitals and localities that were initially spared are now the new virus hot spots.  Arizona, the Carolinas, Texas and more than 20 other states that escaped the initial impact of the pandemic are now struggling to address the crisis.  In direct contrast to this public health threat, federal officials at the very highest levels are claiming that the virus is gone or disappearing.  Some are even saying, “If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases” of the coronavirus.

These false statements are both insulting to the intelligence of Americans like you, but also very dangerous since we need more facts and testing, not less, in order to stop the pandemic and get the economy moving again.  An increase in testing will result in an increase in documented cases, but sick people would still be sick whether they are tested for COVID or not. An increase in testing gives us more information about the situation, but it does not change the situation.

Furthermore, increased testing is not responsible for an increase in hospitalizations, which is what we are seeing across the board in places recently beleaguered by an upward trend. Lack of testing and denial of facts will lead to more hospitalizations and, yes, more people dying from COVID-19.

All the experts and all reliable public officials say that testing and precautions, such as masks and social distancing, remain the only way to get America back on its feet. The situation in many states is getting worse.  News and media outlets are calling recent spikes “the second wave,” but in truth, we are still in the middle of the first wave of the pandemic.

A question for you and all other Americans:  How do we fix something that so many leaders falsely say is no longer a problem?  And how do we rebuild the economy when a virus is ravaging our workforce and citizens without protection or interference? We must first acknowledge what is happening, is all its horror and magnitude, before we can begin to fix it.

How the CARES Act Failed the American People

On March 25th, the government passed the CARES Act, a bipartisan and historic stimulus package totaling roughly $2 trillion. So why has this package done so little to help real people?

There are four main reasons…

  1. It went to wrong people.  Between tax cuts, corporate loopholes, using banks as intermediaries, much of the funding that should have gone to small businesses and everyday working people instead ended up lining the pockets of corporations and the super rich. A tax loophole favoring real estate speculators and hedge fund managers cut their tax bills by shifting losses to prior tax years. This totals in $195 billion from the treasury which will go to 43,000 people who earn over $1 million annually…with no strings attached.  The Paycheck Protection Program was supposed to be for small businesses with 500 or fewer employees but ended up being exploited by franchises that had 500 or fewer employees at each location.
  2. There was no oversight. On April 7th, President Trump fired Inspector General Glenn A. Fine who was assigned to oversee and hold accountable the terms of the stimulus package. Corporations were given bailout money under the condition that they retain their employees. But with no oversight, this requirement has no teeth, as demonstrated by Boeing’s acceptance of the funds and subsequent layoff of workers.
  3. Not enough money was allocated where it was needed. A $1200 one-time stimulus check isn’t enough to last two weeks, let alone for the foreseeable future during a pandemic. The loans given out by the Paycheck Protection Program and Emergency Disaster Relief did little to actually offset small businesses’ losses. And $153.5 billion for public health does not come close to funding enough PPE, overtime for healthcare workers or a robust and aggressive contact tracing and testing initiative, all of which is sorely needed to reopen the country and support the economy.  While unemployment was expanded, its infrastructure was quickly overwhelmed and essential workers remained hostages, forced to work at their jobs despite the risks as quitting would disqualify them from benefits.
  4. Poor infrastructure. All the money in the world doesn’t make a difference if it can’t get where it needs to go.  Distributing funds is a massive undertaking that the United States Government was unprepared for and poorly executed.  People are still waiting on their stimulus checks, which you need a social security number and to have filed taxes recently to receive–leaving out over 7 million households and 16.7 million Americans. SBA loans are way behind processing applications and the Paycheck Protection Program ran out of funding within 13 days, with a significant amount of funds going to publicly traded companies that had connections with the private banks rolling out the loans.  The first day the program was given more money after it ran out, the site crashed.

The package isn’t all bad.  For example, the unemployment measures that expanded qualifications to cover gig-workers and the partially employed in addition to an extra $600+/wk were a great start — but they are still only a start.

Many other developed nations were able to adapt quickly, kept unemployment low and contained the virus. The government of Denmark is covering 75-90% of workers compensation at companies for three months on the condition that employees are not fired.   Here in the US, the pandemic rages on and, despite partial re-openings, the economy, small businesses and working people are suffering.  The federal government has checked out, leaving states, and millions of people, desperately in need of funding, guidance and financial help, on their own.  Hopefully, another stimulus bill, without the loopholes, misallocations and lack of oversight and infrastructure, will pass.

Yours in Strength,

The Take Back Control Team

Are Masks Harmful or Helpful? FACT CHECK

People are understandably frustrated by the need to wear masks.

So, are masks helpful in slowing down the spread of COVID-19 and, two, can wearing a mask actually harm you, as some have claimed in rumors making the rounds online?

The answers are simple.

  •       YES, masks are helpful (even essential) in containing the spread of the virus.
  •       NO, masks are not going to harm you, even though they are inconvenient and annoying.  Rumors of carbon dioxide poisoning, or masks shift the pH levels in the bloodstream, or causing hypercapnia are just that – rumors, totally false and completely (and repeatedly) debunked.

Masks are most helpful at slowing the spread of the virus when worn by infected people.  However, because of limited testing and the prevalence of spreaders who are asymptomatic, it is in everyone’s best interest to wear a mask, whether or not they display symptoms.

The effectiveness of your mask depends on the type of mask and whether you are wearing it correctly.  Cloth masks with disposable filters are a good option; higher-quality masks should be reserved for people at high risk of infection and for workers in high-risk jobs, such as in medical facilities.  A new study indicates that masks may cut the risk of infection by more than two-thirds. Read more about the study here.

Wearing masks and social distancing are the best practices currently available for slowing the spread of the virus.  Wearing masks will help everyone, in states that are locked down, opening up and already open.  It is for you, your friends, your family, your loved ones and your co-workers as we continue the effort to save lives and stop COVID-19.

Yours in Strength,

The Take Back Control Team


Viral Mutations and the Race for a Vaccine

COVID-19, like most viruses, is mutating.  What does this mean for the direction of the virus and the development of a vaccine? 


Although virus mutations have the reputation of always being a deadlier development, scientists say mutations within RNA viruses, like the coronaviruses, are normal and expected and can sometimes result in a weaker strain that ends up dying off.  This doesn’t mean that mutations aren’t something to keep an eye on as vaccine research and development continues, and most vaccines use the original strains for the purpose of immunizing, which cover many variations.


One study in particular indicates that a more contagious mutation of the COVID-19 virus is now the predominant strain in the US. David Montefiori, a Professor and the Director of the Laboratory for AIDS Vaccine Research and Development at Duke University Medical Center, says the virus’ mutation may make developing a vaccine take longer.


Immunity and the length of immunity with COVID-19 antibodies is still in question but some scientists think that COVID-19 antibodies will be similar to SARs antibodies, which die off and leave the subject open to reinfection about 3 years down the line.


The virus is currently mutating in ways that are expected and scientists are keeping that in consideration while developing a vaccine. There are currently 8 vaccines that have been approved for clinical trials being tracked by the World Health Organization.  In addition to the actual development of a working vaccine, governments and corporations will also have to develop plans for manufacturing and distribution infrastructure–a vast undertaking that is almost as much of a challenge as the actual development of a vaccine.  


We will continue with similar updates as scientists continue working on a vaccine and treatments that can slow down and put a halt to COVID-19.


Yours in Strength,

The Take Back Control Team



As states reopen amid the ongoing pandemic, employers and business owners are worried about their potential liability for the spread of the virus.  


If an employee or customers contracts COVID-19, do they have grounds to sue?  This is not a theoretical worry, it is already happening, and as of yet, no real legal precedent has been set.  Congress has debated over including a liability waiver for businesses during the outbreak and the White House has also voiced their support for businesses and employers.  However, this is a more complicated situation than it initially seems.  


First, a customer or employee must prove that they contracted the virus at their workplace. And second, they must be able to prove that their employer/company acted negligently toward their health.  This is a tall order given the prevalence of the virus and the loose reopening guidelines issued by the government.  Read more about the difficulties in proving workplace negligence in reference to COVID-19 here.


In addition, while it appears to be a good idea to protect work places from being sued over a widespread and novel virus, giving them a liability waiver could encourage unsafe business practices that come at the expense of workers.


For now, many workplaces have workman’s compensation agreements that protect them, and it will be difficult for most employees and customers trying to prove the origin of their infection along with negligence.  


What can you do as an employer to ensure your protection and that your employees and customers are safe? It is imperative to follow CDC and state guidelines and to continue to monitor for updates.  


Read our blog post here for state specific best practices.


Read here for more details about liability and best practices.


Yours in Strength,

 The Take Back Control Team

Vote by Mail: FACT CHECK


There’s been a lot of confusion recently about vote-by-mail.  So, what’s the truth?


  1. Vote-by-mail has been used by many states for many years.  There is no evidence of increased voter fraud in Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah, the states that already practice “all mail” elections.  These states institute best practices, such as tracking ballot bar codes and having voters sign ballots, that prevent election tampering. States can also introduce extra precautions to prevent fraud.  If you want to do your own research, you can start by reading about Colorado’s secure and proven vote by mail system.
  2. Vote-by-mail does not benefit either political party.  Studies have shown that vote-by-mail increases overall turnout, but does not help (or hurt) either Democrats or Republicans.  If you want to read more, here’s some background on one of the recent studies.
  3. If you want to read a comprehensive, nonpartisan study on the honesty of American elections, this is a good place to start.
  4. Finally, if you want to read about politicians who vote using absentee ballots and vote-by-mail, here’s a good article.

If you have any questions or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you!


Yours in Strength,

The Take Back Control Team


Hazard Pay

Frontline and essential workers have continued working through the public health crisis, many with no additional pay.  The “thank yous” and recognition they receive, serve only to mask the fact that they are forced to put themselves at significant risk or lose their jobs without the ability to file for unemployment.  Their predicament is thrown into sharp relief against the background of applause.  A few employers have temporarily instituted hero pay.  Kroger and Amazon were paying workers an additional abysmal $2/hr and Starbucks $3/hr.  All three companies additional pay initiatives will expire this month, despite the ongoing risk to workers.

This has not gone unnoticed. While democrats and republicans are divided on passing additional relief, there’s a consensus that something must be done to compensate those on the frontlines.  Both sides of the aisle have put forward plans to address this inequity—but will it be enough?

Inside the democrats proposed HEROES Act, which passed the House on Friday, May 15th, is the Heroes Fund, a $200 billion initiative to introduce hazard pay for essential workers.  While the bill is being called “dead on arrival” in the senate, the Heroes Fund may be a piece that survives.

The Heroes Fund

  •     In the HEROES Act–$200 billion
  •     Sliding $13/per hour raise depending on employees’ salary, totaling in $5-25k of premium pay
  •     Payment spread out throughout the year, and retroactively covers back to the beginning of the crisis and lasting until December 31st, 2020
  •     Bonus checks of up to $15k to attract essential workers
  •    Employers eligible for $10,000 per worker grants for essential workers that make less than $200,000/yr and $5,000 per worker for workers who make over $200,000/yr
  •     Benefit to family members of frontline workers who died in service

On Friday, May 1st, Mitt Romney unveiled “Patriot Pay,” his plan to address Hazard pay for essential and frontline workers. His plan differs from the Heroes Fund, in that it does not pay retroactively and lasts only 3 months, and it is funded through a payroll tax credit instead of a grant.

Patriot Pay

  •     Proposed by Mitt Romney
  •    Up to an additional $12/hr through May, June and July.  A full-time worker would receive a maximum of $1,920/month for 3 months
  •     Funded through employers and the federal government via a payroll tax credit

The main issue with both of these proposals is defining who qualifies as an essential worker.  Essential workers encompass an amount of industries that would make a $200 billion program woefully inadequate.  And with states reopening, workers not deemed essential are now also exposing themselves to risk. How do we decide who deserves hazard pay when working at all is a hazard?  While those on the frontlines who have been forced to continue to work since the beginning of the public health crisis should undoubtedly be prioritized, others risking their health deserve compensation as well.  It has been the most underpaid, and normally unappreciated, who have been forced to bear the brunt of this pandemic, and the only way to properly and meaningfully acknowledge their compulsory sacrifice is through material and tangible compensation. Hopefully, the both parties will come together to solve this bipartisan and urgent oversight.

Read more about the Heroes Fund here.

Read more about Patriot Pay here.

For more information about companies’ discontinuations of hazard pay here.


Yours in Strength,

The Take Back Control Team

Small Business Reopening Guidelines

So, your state has decided to reopen. As a small business owner, you need to know what regulations are in place and how to protect yourself, your employees and your customers. We’re going to go through the guidelines currently in place in your state and how to get started.  Check with your local government to make sure you are meeting current local safety standards. 

First, let’s go over general CDC recommendations.

The CDC suggests that you appoint a workplace coordinator to handle all COVID-19 related issues. Depending on the size of your operation, this may or may not be necessary. 

  •     Examine policies in place for leave, telework and compensation and adjust them as needed for COVID-19. 
  •     Employees should be allowed and encouraged to stay home if they have any symptoms and leave policies should consider those who need to take care of sick relatives or have children at home for whom they are the primary caregiver.  
  •     If it is possible, continue or implement telework options and stagger worker shifts. Policies and protocol should encourage social distancing.
  •     Implement a thorough and regular cleaning/disinfectant plan using EPA approved disinfectants.
  •     Provide and/or require PPE for personnel. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces routinely.
  •     Encourage or require customers to follow social distancing protocol.

 For more information about CDC reopening guidelines for small businesses, click here.

For more information about CDC cleaning guidelines for small businesses, click here.

In addition to CDC recommendations, Wisconsin has specific recommendations and mandates as well that it is important to follow.

Wisconsin was thrown into chaos by the State’s Supreme Court and its sudden reversal of the statewide stay-at-home mandate.  Many businesses immediately opened their doors. Pictures and videos show bars packed full of patrons.  But other parts of the state imposed their own local stay at home mandates and businesses are looking for guidance on how to safely reopen.  Before the stay-at-home order was overturned, Governor Tony Evers had released reopening guidelines that would have been phased in and which businesses would have had time to implement. Our advice will be based on those recommended guidelines, but you should also check in with your local government to find specific guidelines for your area.

  1.     High risk groups should still stay home if possible.
  2.    Continue to use telework where possible.  Meetings should be teleconferenced or in a well-ventilated space when that is not possible. Limit business related travel for essential circumstances.
  3.     Provide PPE and train employees to properly use it.
  4.     Train employees in proper social distancing protocol and keep them updated on your policies.
  5.     Have cleaning and sanitizing supplies on hand for disinfecting workplaces.
  6.     Encourage social distancing.  Allow workers to be at least 6 ft apart from each other.
  7.    Screening employees with temperature checks is encouraged for some business sectors.  Follow CDC guidelines here.
  8.    Before opening, clean and disinfect all areas. Change air filters in your HVAC following manufacturer guidelines. After opening, continue to disinfect common areas and frequently used areas.
  9.     Have leave policies that consider employees that may need to take care of a sick family member or child that has to stay home.
  10.    Do not allow symptomatic people to work.  If your employee has COVID-19, notify your local health department. Close off area used by the sick person. After 24 hours, disinfect the area using EPA approved products. Inform other employees and any workers who had contact with them. 

For more information, read the WEDC’s General Guidelines for reopening here.

For industry specific guidelines, look here.

Read more about Wisconsin’s Supreme Court’s decision to rescind the stay at home order here.


Yours in Strength,

The Take Back Control Team