Coronavirus: What you must know

Kailah Lee | Staff Writer

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Photo Credit: Unsplash User  Kelly Sikkema

Many have heard about the Coronavirus (CoV), a recent epidemic. What makes it even scarier is that there are hourly updates on how much the disease is affecting hundreds upon thousands of people with little information on the prevention of it. 

According to Vox, the outbreak has reached more than 40,000 people and counting. Fortunately for us in the U.S., it hasn’t become as prominent of an issue as it is in China, but by no means should you take this virus lightly. 

The coronavirus and similar strains such as mCov, SARS and MERS are known as zoonotic, which is a fancy word for being transmittable by humans and animals. Originally, this is how the disease came to fruition. As stated by numerous sources, SARS and MERS allegedly evolved from bats and civet cats to affecting humans. But 2019-nCov seems to be a mystery. This raises some concerns considering that government officials are known to experiment in laboratories. Just like AIDS began with human and animal contact, many conspiracies suggest otherwise.

With little information on this outbreak, questions are pouring from the public. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a few symptoms begin with fever, cough and shortness of breath. In a previous report form The Lancet, more detailed symptoms such as fever, muscle pain, fatigue, headache and diarrhea have been seen. In extreme acute cases, pneumonia, kidney failure and death have occurred.

Deaths have occurred in China, and in little time, the infectious disease is spreading like wildfire.

“Is this the disease that is going to take us out and bring on the apocalypse like in Stephen King?” said Dr. James Peterson, a writer, educator and consultant in a STEM panel discussion.

To his credit, the public has no way of knowing what might come of it. It may seem a little cinematic, but with movies, history and research to suggest otherwise, it’s safe to be open-minded about the virus.

“You cannot believe everything you hear about it, but this virus is a serious threat to global humanity,” Peterson said.

With dangling research in multiple sources, there is no exact answer to our questions. The best thing we can do for ourselves is treat the disease as if it were flu or common cold.

World Health Organization international standards for preventing spread are regular hand washing, covering mouth—either by elbow or surgical mask while coughing and sneezing—and meticulously cooking most meats and eggs.

The continued spread of the coronavirus

Gabrielle Chenault | Staff Writer

The coronavirus disease has sent many people worldwide into a frenzy because it is continuing to spread outside of China, and the death toll continues to rise. Cases have been reported in Asia, Europe, Australia, North America and Africa as of Feb. 19.

“It’s scary to see how quickly this is spreading, especially since there is no current cure,” said Hampton University student Ra’ana Middleton, a sophomore nursing student.

This virus is spread through the respiratory system and mimics the symptoms of a cold. Due to this, it is easily spread and can be spread among a lot of people at one time. According to a CNN report, “more than 68,500 people have been infected and at least 1,669 have died worldwide.” 

As the virus spreads, President Donald Trump has taken precautions in an attempt to limit the cases of the virus in the United States. A temporary travel ban has been set in place for foreign nationals from entering the United States if they visited China in the 14 days prior to them flying into the United States. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) officially entered the Coronavirus or COVID-19 into their database Feb. 11. In a New York Times article, the World Health Organization called it “public health emergency of international concern.” 

While there has been a variety of news alerts on social media about this virus, there have also been racist and untrue reports on popular apps such as Twitter and Instagram. 

“I get that in our society people love to joke about everything, but certain memes took it a bit too far,” said HU student George Mitchell, a sophmore political science major. “I saw that someone on Twitter made a meme where all the Disney princess had facemasks except Mulan, and the caption was something about how you can’t trust her. It was just unnecessary.” 

As this deadly virus spreads, there are measures you can take to protect yourself. The first is to educate yourself on the virus. There are many falsified reports on social media, so be sure to read reports from an accredited news source or from organizations such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC). 

Sadly, due to their being no cure, this virus will continue to spread, but there are steps that can be taken to help yourself and those around you stay healthy. 

The easiest way to prevent yourself from getting this virus is by using proper hygiene techniques and eating a balanced diet. Washing your hands, eating healthy and staying hydrated are ways that you can stop yourself from catching this illness. Gabrielle Johnson, a freshman kinesiology student, summed it up best.

“The only way to not catch the virus is to make sure you’re following the CDC’s regulations,” Johnson said. “But we must also not make fun of those who are sick because they and their families are going through a hard time.”

Federal investigation opened into Mississippi prisons after series of deaths

William Paul Ellis | Staff Writer

  For more than a century, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, most commonly known as “Parchman,” has served as the only maximum security prison for men in the state of Mississippi.

Now, after 16 inmate deaths in less than two months, the Department of Justice has agreed to open a civil rights investigation into the conditions of Parchman and other regional prisons including the South Mississippi Correctional Institution, the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility and the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility. According to ABC News, 10 of the 16 recent deaths occured in Parchman, which included five inmates beaten or stabbed by other inmates and three suicides.

Located in Sunflower County, Mississippi, the Parchman prison name is infamous, particularly within African American communities. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, Mississippi has the highest incarceration rate in the nation, with an overwhelming number of inmates being black. According to the Mississippi Department of Corrections, as of February 2020, Parchman currently has a capacity of 3,560 and houses approximately 2,700 inmates. 

In January, newly elected Governor Tate Reeves visited Parchman and promised his constituents new policies to improve the conditions of prisons across the state. Reeves also ordered the closing of a Parchman cell unit known for violence. 

“I’ve seen enough. We have to turn the page,” Reeves said in the ABC News report. “This is the first step, and I have asked the department to begin the preparations to make [the closure] happen safely, justly and quickly.”

The governor and Department of Justice’s responses come after much criticism from activists, including rappers Jay-Z and Yo Gotti, who funded a lawsuit against the State of Mississippi and the Mississippi NAACP and Southern Poverty Law Center, who with other organizations petitioned the Department of Justice for an investigation. 

“Those who are incarcerated still deserve basic human rights despite their past mistakes.”

–Kennedy Owens

For Hampton University students who call Mississippi home, the recent publicity surrounding the deaths of Mississippi inmates has been a reminder of the difficulties still present in their home state. 

Cailynn Gregory, a sophomore from Jackson, Mississippi, believes that the prison crisis in Mississippi has only furthered the negative perception held by many concerning the state. 

“As a Mississsippian, and particularly the daughter of a civil rights attorney, I am disheartened by the conditions in Mississippi Prisons,” Gregory said. “It hurts to see the videos and pictures on social media and know that humans are living in those conditions, and that people are losing their families. Mississippi is already last in the country for many things, and seeing inmates being treated as less than humans only heightens the cry for national assistance.” 

Kennedy Owens, also a sophomore from Jackson, Mississippi, views the criticism against the state as warranted due to the long legacy of the mistreatment of inmates in the prison system.

“These events are unacceptable,” Owens said. “Those who are incarcerated still deserve basic human rights despite their past mistakes.”

President Trump unveils 2021 budget with massive cuts to assistance programs

Sara Avery | Staff Writer

President Trump unveiled his 2021 budget that makes major cuts to safety net programs like Social Security and food stamps. The $4.8 trillion proposal also will affect certain federal student loan programs, increasing the amount of debt that borrowers will have over their lifetime, USA Today reported.

A program that forgives the remaining student debt of public service workers, such as teachers and firefighters, who have made on time payments for 10 years, will be terminated. This could result in over $52 billion worth of additional payments in the next decade. 

The budget also would terminate government payments on the subsides of Stafford loans. These subsidies are the interest the government pays on loans while students are in school. This could result in $18 billion more for borrowers over the next decade. 

Additionally, a grant that helped 1.7 million students in 2019 will be axed. The Trump administration believes that the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant replicates the Pell Grant, which helped 8.2 million students in 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Education. 

“I believe that Trump’s new budget plan is making it impossible for families with harder financial circumstances to send their children to college,” HU sophomore Daelin Brown said. 

Another change being made is the limit placed on how much parents of undergraduates can borrow from the federal government with the Parent PLUS loan. Currently, parents can borrow the full annual cost of attendance minus other financial aid their student receives per year. Under the 2021 budget, that would be restricted to only $26,500 to pay for their student’s entire undergraduate education.

“That’s totally reasonable,” Sandy Baum, a fellow in the Center for Education, Data and Policy at the Urban Institute, told USA Today. “There’s no reason why the federal government should lend such large amounts of money to parents who may have their lives ruined by it because they can’t afford to repay it.”

The budget also will include modifications of Social Security and Medicaid, even after the president promised several times during campaigning that he would not touch it. The budget plans to cut around $45 billion on Social Security Supplemental Income, a program aimed at helping disabled children and adults. It also plans to cut $844 billion in Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act over the next 10 years.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, will take a hit, as the budget proposes a $181 billion decrease in funds over the next decade. Over 36 million currently use food stamps, according to federal data. 

“He shouldn’t do that because some individuals who utilize food stamps are involved in the cycle of poverty,” said HU sophomore Madisoorn Lapsley. “They deserve assistance.”

Despite the massive cuts the Trump administration is proposing, they are requesting $2 billion for border wall funding and a 3 percent pay raise for military members and their families. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer criticized the budget in a news conference, calling it “a blueprint for destroying America.” “This is a heartless budget,” Pelosi said. “It is absolutely shameful.”

Schumer believes the 2021 proposal exhibits how Trump’s values are “so off base.” The budget is not expected to get past the Democrat-controlled House without significant changes being made first.

Diversity in technology

Simone Quary | Staff Writer

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Photo Credit: Unsplash User Domenico Loia

In today’s world, it is undeniable that technology plays an integral role in every aspect of life. It allows for the completion of simple and complex tasks within seconds. 

Technological advances in the past millenium have also resulted in the rise of social media, which have given any person, regardless of their upbringing, a chance to voice their opinion. 

The diversity prevalent among social media users has brought to question whether the same diversity is reflected within the the technological workforce. As for nearly all industries in the United States, there has been a call for more diversity in the workforce. 

  While technological powerhouses have taken steps to recruit minorities at colleges and universities, there are still many obstacles to overcome. In an article published on TechRepublic.com in 2017, Buck Gee, an executive advisor at the nonprofit Ascend, provides clarity on the adversities that different races experience. 

“The diversity problems of each race are different,” Gee wrote. “In Silicon Valley, for blacks and Hispanics, the basic problem is getting in the door. The problem with Asian Americans in Silicon Valley is upper mobility to management.” 

In 2018, Google’s annual diversity report showed the breakdown of hires of gender and race, with the overall workforce composing of 48.5% white, 43.9% Asian, 6.8% Latinx, 4.8%, and < 1% Native American. A clear gender gap was shown, with nearly 70 percent of males making up the entire workforce. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) plays a critical role in the formation and functioning of technology itself, and results in innovations such as facial recognition. However, researchers have discovered unintentional racial biases in AI algorithms, primarily when identifying which patients benefit from additional health care. 

Racial biases in AI algorithms also present themselves as police begin to embrace the use of facial recognition technology when identifying suspects, with an overwhelming amount of people of color being mistaken for crimes. 

Encouraging the spread of diversity in the technological field can help reduce the social, cultural and institutional biases. Ally Minju Hong, a sophomore aeronautics and astronautics major attending MIT, hopes to be part of this change. 

“STEM fields have an urgent need for more minorities as their driving force,” Hong said. “The very Snapchat filters we use and the machine-learning algorithms behind online targeting ads are just a few examples of AI. There’s been a few examples of discrimination by tech already (i.e., Google images deeming pictures of African-American women as sexually explicit at a higher rate), and if we include certain tech within anything essential, like our justice system, it may inherit or overlook the same biases the creators are having. After all, the programs are only as good as the code inputted by the programmers.” 

  The need for more representation among minorities in technology has been strongly encouraged  at Hampton University. Professors and students alike understand the skills and unique perspective that they can offer to major companies. 

Herman Robinson, a sophomore computer information systems major from Chesterfield, Virginia, describes his classroom setting for his core classes. 

“We’ve learned that, in technology, not enough African-Americans are represented and not enough females as well,” Robinson said. “For instance, I’m in a computer science class here, and there’s only two or three females even though Hampton is a predominantly female school. In the future, I think technology companies need to stress the importance of having more African-Americans, and especially African-American females, be represented.”

Recently, HBCUs have gained the attention of major companies, and some, such as Google, have created immersion programs for high schoolers and undergraduate students for minority students. Having a healthy, diverse workforce in technology will enable it to progress in order to create a safe world. 

Supreme Court votes to allow immigrant wealth tax

Sara Avery | Staff Writer

The Trump administration has been given permission to move forward with plans to deny immigrants permanent legal status if they are deemed likely to become overdependent on government programs. The Supreme Court voted 5-4, with the majority coming from the conservative justices, the New York Times reported. 

HU student Khyala Turner, a sophomore kinesiology major, believes that the ruling is un-American. 

“America is a nation that is supposed to care for all people, no matter your economic status,” Turner said.

The Trump administration announced in August that they would expand the definition of “public charge.” Previously, the designation was only given to immigrants who are expected to be dependent on substantial cash benefits from the government. In the past, less than 1 percent of applicants were disqualified because of this designation, the New York Times reported. 

With the expanded definition, government assistance programs like Medicaid and federal housing will now be included in the assessment. The criteria also includes anyone they believe will need extensive assistance for more than 12 months in a three-year period.

New York Solicitor General Barbara D. Underwood believes that the new rule would radically change settled immigration policy. 

“The rule’s vast expansion of ‘public charge’ — to include employed individuals who receive any amount of certain means-tested benefits for even brief periods of time — is a stark departure from a more-than-century-long consensus that has limited the term to individuals who are primarily dependent on the government for long-term subsistence,” she wrote in a response to the decision.

So far, five trial judges have entered injunctions to stop the ruling, after several lower courts appealed the decision. A federal judge in New York issued an injunction as well after New York, Connecticut, Vermont and others filed a lawsuit against the rule, NBC reported.

Justice Neil Gorsuch issued a statement about his opinions on the injunctions: “As the brief and furious history of the regulation before us illustrates, the routine issuance of universal injunctions is patently unworkable, sowing chaos for litigants, the government, courts, and all those affected by these conflicting decisions.”

Even if the ruling is reversed later, in the interim, it may still adversely affect current green-card holders and applicants.

“This will engender a lot of fear from immigrants trying to seek visas or green cards,” Claudia Center, a senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, told Business Insider. 

“This new ruling is hypocritical to American ideals,” said Hampton University student Lauren Williams, a junior political science major. “America has always been a safe haven for immigrants, and the creation of a ‘wealth test’ is going to force more people to be denied access into this country.”

There is fear from groups challenging the decisions that immigrants applying for permanent status will forgo benefits that they need out of fear of consequence for accepting such benefits, the New York Times reported. Lawyers for the groups wrote that these choices could lead to “increased malnutrition and increased prevalence of communicable diseases,” as well as “increased poverty and housing instability.”

Despite the potential problems, Solicitor General Noel Francisco, expressed to the Supreme Court that the goal was to decrease immigrants applying for green cards from using public benefits. He doesn’t believe that the negative effects applicants may experience will “outweigh the long-term harms the government will experience while the rule is enjoined.”

Democratic primaries open with muddy results

William Paul Ellis | Staff Writer

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Photo Credit: Flickr User U.S. Army Corps of Engineering

As the first round of Democratic primaries have begun, the remaining candidates are making last efforts to appeal to voters.

The first of these primaries was the Iowa Caucus, held Feb. 3. Although the caucus style of voting is unique to Iowa, its results have long been believed to be an early indicator of the eventual Democratic candidate for president. According to the Des Moines Register, since 1972, 55 percent of caucus winners have gone on to win the party’s nomination. 

In the weeks leading up to the Iowa Caucus, former Vice President Joe Biden had been the leading candidate in Iowa polls. According to the National Review, Biden hosted a campaign event in Waukee, Iowa, the Thursday prior to the caucus. At the event, former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack voiced his support of Biden, with Biden promising the voters that he would “restore the character of the nation.”

However, Biden has recently faced growing competition from Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Bernie Sanders. As of Wednesday, Buttigieg led in Iowa, based on partial results, with Sanders close behind, the Associated Press reported.

According to RealClearPolitics, a polling site, Sanders was leading among potential primary voters in New Hampshire and California. Another indicator of Sanders’ potential success in the primaries is his popularity with young voters. According to a Quinnipiac poll, Sanders leads Biden among young voters under the age of 35, 53 percent to 3 percent.

Sanders’ momentum had increased greatly due to endorsements from popular Democrats, including Congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Pramila Jayapal and Rashida Tlaib, who participated in a campaign event for Sanders on Jan. 31. 

However, as the Biden and Sanders campaigns predicted reasonable success, another candidate emerged.

Buttigieg, who was the leading candidate in Iowa during the months of November and December, dropped to third place in the days before the caucus, according to Politico. While the Iowa results dragged on for days, Buttigieg held on to a tenuous lead.

Additionally, Senator Elizabeth Warren, whose candidacy had seen a noticeable increase in support in the recent months, has dropped in polls nationwide. Now Warren, who received an endorsement from the Des Moines Register, was predicted to have a small chance at winning the Iowa Caucus. 

Many of the students on the campus of Hampton University, some of whom will be voting in the Virginia Democratic Primary in March, were still undecided about which candidate they will support. 

“Even though the field has become much smaller, I am still not sure of which candidate I would want to vote for, even after all of the debates and campaign events,” Hampton University junior Brianna Cry said. 

For Hampton junior Eddy Baldwin, the question remained why he should vote for any of the remaining candidates, in a field that has narrowed from more than 20 potential nominees to less than 10. 

“I feel like a lot of their platforms are similar, and I don’t think any of the current candidates have gone as far as to prove what makes them different from the others,” Baldwin said.

After the Iowa Caucus, candidates still have many primaries to look forward to. Most importantly, Super Tuesday on March 3, when 14 states will host primaries. 

What is the coronavirus?

Simone Quary | Staff Writer

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Photo Credit: Pexels user Pranidchakan Boonrom

Every year, it seems as if a new virus or disease makes international headlines and puts the health of citizens across the world in jeopardy. Mass hysteria ensues and can result in false information being spread. 

The coronavirus, a virus targeting the respiratory system, has killed 494 people and infected approximately 24,600 individuals as of Feb. 5, CNN reported. Moreover, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported coronavirus cases in four U.S. states. Two cases were reported in California and Illinois, and one person each in Washington and Arizona. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website states there are seven variations of the 

coronavirus, with the first known appearance of the coronavirus reported in the mid-1960s. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported a new version of the coronavirus formally known as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and deemed the spread of the disease as a public health emergency. 

The new version of the coronavirus was first reported in Wuhan City in Hubei province of China. A man in Washington was the first person in the United States with a positive test result for the coronavirus. However, after a Chicago woman travelled to Wuhan and contracted the illness, the woman’s husband also contracted the virus, making this the first direct human-to-human transmission. 

As for executive measures, the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration has placed a temporary ban on U.S. flights in and out of mainland China. Although information regarding the coronavirus has changed rapidly, assistant secretary of health Brett Giroir expressed his faith in the government’s ability to control the spread.  

In a news briefing, he explained how the Trump administration plans to create a task force that requires health screenings at 20 major U.S. airports and the extradition of U.S. citizens in China. In fact, the CDC has issued a Level Three travel warning to China, which recommends U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to China. Additionally, like other scientists around the world, the U.S. hopes to create a vaccine. 

HU student Breyana Stanley, a sophomore nursing major from Baltimore, remains optimistic in scientists’ efforts at finding a cure for the newly discovered coronavirus. 

“I think there’s hope for a cure to this virus because scientists have been successful in finding cures and vaccines for other diseases in the past,” Stanley said. “But in the meantime, everyone please wash your hands because germs are everywhere, and if you constantly wash your hands, you’re less likely to get sick.” 

While there has not been an official reported case of the coronavirus in the state of Virginia, the Virginia Department of Health has taken three people under suspicion of carrying the coronavirus and sent them to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for testing. Two of the three people tested negative for the disease, and the 

Virginia Department of Health is awaiting test results for the third person. 

Upon learning that the coronavirus had its first human-to-human contact in the United States, HU student Morgan Ferguson, a sophomore journalism major from Baltimore, expressed her concern on the virus reaching the U.S. and gives advice to college students. 

“I think students should take precautions on what they eat, drink and touch, and also educate themselves more on the virus and the symptoms,” Ferguson said.

International Olympic Committee Bans Protesting for 2020 Olympics

Gabrielle Chenault | Staff Writer

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Photo Credit: Flickr User Elliot Harmon

“We were just human beings who saw a need to bring attention to the inequality in our country.” 

When John Carlos and Tommie Smith decided to protest during the medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, they had no idea the series of events that would follow. These two African American men did a black power salute at the games and while many were proud of this feat, many Americans were extremely upset. They were suspended from the U.S. team, received death threats, lost countless sports deals and even faced homelessness. 

As the Olympic Games come closer, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has released a three-page guideline that states “Athletes are banned from protesting while on the field of play, in the Olympic Village and during medal and other official ceremonies.”

This announcement has occurred due to two Americans protesting at the Pan-American games in August 2019. Race Imboden and Gwen Berry protested during their medal ceremonies. 

Race Imboden explained the protest in a tweet: “Racism, Gun Control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list.” 

In an interview with NBC Sports, she explained that she had raised her fist as “a testament” to everything that she and the country had been through in the past year. Due to their protest, they were both given a 12-month ban meaning they will not be allowed to participate at the Olympics. After both of these athletes won gold at the Pan-American games, many are shocked over this harsh ruling and the IOC’s newest guideline. 

“Professional athletes already have a limited speech due to certain sports contracts they are in,” said Shakeria Johnson, a sophomore student-athlete at Hampton. “To tell them that they can’t express their views shows how this committee doesn’t want athletes to have a voice at all.”

According to an article published by CBS News, the goal of this ban is to “keep a global focus on athletes’ performances and on international unity and harmony.”

“I think by instating this ban, they are going to see more people protesting the committee due to them limiting their free speech,” said HU student Maya Tillet, a junior psychology major from Virginia. She continued to explain how fewer people might watch the Olympics in a form of protest due to this unjust ruling. 

As the Olympics games grow closer, many are going to be interested to see if any athletes decided to risk their careers to protest injustices they face within their own countries. As American Olympian Gwen Berry said, “It’s no disrespect at all to the country. I want to make that very clear. If anything, I’m doing it out of love and respect for people in the country.”

More Than 1000 Earthquakes Have Rocked Puerto Rico

Sara Avery | Staff Writer

Puerto Rican Governor Wanda Vasquez Garced has declared a state of emergency after the island continues to be rocked by earthquakes and several aftershocks.

“We inform the activation of the National Guard and the Emergency declaration that allows speedy government processes to ensure effective execution,” Garced tweeted.

According to the Puerto Rico Seismic Network, the country has been hit with upwards of 1,000 earthquakes since the beginning of the new year that all measure 2.0 and above on the Richter Scale. The majority of the quakes are a result of the Punta Montalva Fault in the Lajas Valley, which is located in southwestern Puerto Rico, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The biggest earthquake, measuring at 6.4, occurred on January 7 and left one person dead and over 5,000 more without food, shelter or power. This has caused fear and uncertainty amongst many of the islanders.

“We don’t know if or when these aftershocks will end,” said resident Nidia Nazario to the Washington Post.

Many of the citizens have been moved to temporary housing or shelters due to being displaced. The Puerto Rican government has implemented programs to aid with disaster relief. According to NBC, officials from Puerto Rico’s Office of Mental Health Services and Addiction Prevention have been deployed to assist residents with coping, especially those who were victims of Hurricane Maria in 2017.

“These aftershocks are triggers for people,” said Official Abdiel Dumeng to NBC. “But I have to admit that we’ve seen a decrease in these kinds of crises, because we’ve been working together for a while, teaching people how to stay calm.”

The quakes have revealed many problems on the island, including issues with infrastructure as multiple buildings and homes, have been destroyed because they were never completely fixed after Maria. Many of the citizens have moved out of their homes and into shelters because they feel like their homes and surrounding structures are unsafe.

“As someone who has family members who live in Puerto Rico, it is nerve-racking because I know that their area hasn’t recovered from Hurricane Mariam,” said HU student Gabrielle Chenault, a junior journalism major from NY. “I’m worried about how many more earthquakes their area can stand.”

This led to congressional democrats to call on President Trump to release the relief aid to Puerto Rico that he has been withholding since 2017. After months with no plans for the funds, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that they are finally being dispersed.

Democrats are happy with the funds being released, but they were also frustrated with the delay.

While it is a welcome development that the Administration has released its hold on these funds, this step is inexcusably overdue,” said Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y. in a statement on her website.

So far, Puerto Rico has only received $1.5 billion of the $20 billion allocated to them from the congressionally authorized disaster relief funds to be administered by HUD. The latest release will be around $8 billion.

However, the Trump administration plans to impose several requirements on the dispersal after citing concerns of corruption and financial mismanagement in a White House briefing.

According to the Washington Post, one of the requirements will be a restriction on the number of wages paid to government contractors working on disaster relief. Puerto Rico’s government will also have to work to create a new system for registering properties and deeds in an effort to curb fraud.

“I don’t necessarily support regulating the money we give, but instead finding a way that is the most effective for the money to be dispersed so that as many Puerto Ricans can be helped as possible,” said Hampton University student Samirah Brown, a sophomore kinesiology major.

Even with the restrictions, many Puerto Rican government officials are happy and relieved that the funds are being released. Resident Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez tweeted that the decision would bring the country a step closer to receiving the funds it needs.

The exact date that the funds will reach the island still remains unclear.