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Blog Post | COVID-19

Superspreading events pose outsized risk of COVID-19 transmission | Abe Scarr

Public health experts are starting to draw actionable lessons about the nature of how COVID-19 spreads. In addition to maintaining best practices –physical distancing, mask wearing and hand washing – it’s best to avoid extended, crowded indoor gatherings.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Consumer advice: Ask for help with your bills before an emergency

This coming Monday, June 1, will mark the third full month that bills are due since COVID-19 was declared a national state of emergency in March. To help Americans manage their finances, U.S. PIRG Education Fund has published an updated guide with tips on what to do about paying bills during the crisis.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

Statement: Consumer complaints about COVID-19 fraud near 50,000

Consumer complaints to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) related to the coronavirus approached 50,000 on Tuesday. U.S. PIRG Education Fund has documented the actions taken by the FTC and 14 other federal agencies in response to coronavirus scams.

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Blog Post | COVID-19

U.S. PIRG Supports Automated Contact Tracing Because More Than Anything Else, America Needs Good Information Before It Can Safely Lift Stay-At-Home Rules | Ed Mierzwinski

Public health experts have made it abundantly clear that to safely lift stay-at-home rules we must have four key things we don’t yet have. We need fast, accurate and widely available testing. We need a better plan for isolating and supporting people who have COVID-19. We need sufficient hospital capacity, including medical and protective equipment, to treat all patients safely. And we need more contact tracing. This blog explains U.S. PIRG's support for automated warning and contact tracing, subject to appropriate privacy and civil liberties protections, which can provide critical information quickly about who has potentially been exposed.

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News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

New analysis: Most fake COVID-19 products claim antiviral, immune-boosting properties 

Desperate for a cure to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many Americans are turning to the internet for answers. What they’re finding, however, is a minefield of dubious products posted by unscrupulous sellers. False claims are tricking worried people into paying for fake solutions that give them a false sense of security. The federal government hasn’t approved any product that prevents or treats COVID-19.

While myriad fake COVID-related products exist online, a new analysis from TexPIRG Education Fund found that the most common were for products using claims of antiviral or immune-boosting properties. The group looked at 34 warning letters issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips

How to refund concert tickets, prevent ID theft during COVID-19

AUSTIN-- In the midst of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, American consumers are experiencing numerous public health and financial challenges, including virus-related scams, fake products promising cures and price gouging. To help address concerns as they arise, TexPIRG Education Fund is publishing new tip guides each week to help people navigate this crisis.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Americans need stronger consumer protections during COVID-19 crisis

U.S. PIRG Education Fund has released a report with the Student Borrower Protection Center and Consumer Action. The report makes recommendations to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to upgrade its consumer complaint tool, including the public consumer complaint database, so COVID19-related complaints can be handled more quickly and tracked better.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

Statement: SBA data breach puts business owners at risk of ID theft and other fraud

The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced Tuesday that the personal information of nearly 8,000 business owners applying for federal disaster loans had been exposed. The breach affects applicants to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL), and may have included names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, email addresses, phone numbers, citizenship statuses and insurance information.

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News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips

How to save money and make safer online purchases during COVID-19

In the midst of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, American consumers are experiencing numerous public health and financial challenges, including virus-related scams, fake products promising cures and price gouging. To help address concerns as they arise, TexPIRG Education Fund is publishing new tip guides each week to help consumers navigate this crisis.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Consumer complaints of COVID-19 fraud surpass 15,000

Scammers and other bad actors are trying to take advantage of Americans’ heightened fears around the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and fraud complaints are soaring. Consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) related to the virus surpassed 15,000 Thursday.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Chain Reaction V

The Chain Reaction V report grades the top fast food and fast casual chanins on antibiotic use policies for their beef supply chains. 

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Unsafe Used Cars for Sale

AutoNation, which bills itself as “America’s Largest Auto Retailer,” is selling recalled used vehicles that contain dangerous safety defects. In a survey of over 2,400 used vehicles for sale at 28 AutoNation locations, 1 in 9 were found to have unrepaired safety recalls. Those vehicles are potentially hazardous to the people who buy them, their passengers and everyone else on the road. Vehicles with defects subject to safety recalls – including malfunctioning Takata airbags and General Motors ignition switches – have been responsible for thousands of injuries and deaths.

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles 5

America’s aging roads and bridges need fixing. Our car-dependent transportation system is dangerous, harms our communities, and is the nation’s leading source of global warming pollution. And more than ever before, it is clear that America needs to invest in giving people healthier, more sustainable transportation options.

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Blueprint for Tomorrow

INFRASTRUCTURE IS AT THE HEART of America’s greatest challenges. The infrastructure investments made by generations past have contributed to improved health and welfare, and to the nation’s unparalleled economic prosperity. But the infrastructure decisions of the past have also cast a long shadow, leaving America to deal with the burden of lead water pipes that jeopardize our children’s health, fossil fuel pipelines that contribute to global warming, and transportation and solid waste infrastructure that no longer serve today’s needs.

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Report | TexPIRG | Public Health

Get the Lead Out

Over the past five years, the tragedy of Flint, Michigan has stunned the nation. We watched the drinking water of an entire city become contaminated with lead. And, we know now that this toxic threat extends well beyond Flint to communities across the country.

In fact, test results now show that lead is even contaminating drinking water in schools and pre-schools — flowing from thousands of fountains and faucets where our kids drink water every day.

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Blog Post | COVID-19

Adjusting to new traditions during coronavirus | Lauren Banister

Associate Lauren Banister talks about her experience adjusting to the new normal during Passover.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Updated Student Resources during COVID-19 Pandemic | Lauren Banister

As the second week of spring break begins, I wanted to update the student resources I sent last week and give you some ways to help others during this unprecedented moment. 

As you know, on March 30th, all classes will resume online and students who live on campus are asked to move out throughout this week. 

Here are a few resources to turn to if you need them:

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Here’s how we’re protecting consumers amid the pandemic | Bay Scoggin

The spread of coronavirus across the country is a serious threat to our health and financial security. We here at TexPIRG are working from home and wishing everyone health, calm, and plenty of hand-washing.

During this time, we must ensure that consumers are protected from those who would take advantage of the pandemic situation and that everyone has access to what they need to stay healthy and prevent the spread of this disease. 

The changes occurring to our daily lives and the whole country is overwhelming. We’ll get through it by working together, so we wanted to offer some information on what TexPIRG is working on.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Student resources during COVID-19 | Lauren Banister

As we enter spring break, I wanted to share some important resources as our campuses transition to online classes. 

This change to our daily lives - and the whole country - may feel overwhelming. We’ll get through it together and so we wanted to offer some information for students who may be especially struggling to adjust to this major transition. 

As you are most likely aware, UT Austin has extended it’s spring break an additional week and will resume classes on March 30th. 

TexPIRG is happy to provide the following resources for students during this time.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Electrify METRO Coalition Letter | Bay Scoggin

Dear Chair Patman,

We write you today to urge METRO to transition its buses to a clean, all-electric fleet.

We applaud the work METRO employees do every day, safely carrying thousands of people, including many who cannot or do not wish to drive, to work, school and more. METRO buses and light rail are playing a critical role in reducing traffic and air pollution. Furthermore, we appreciate the efforts METRO has taken to convert buses to hybrid technology, limit idling, and initiate an electric bus pilot program. 

However, most METRO buses are still powered by diesel—a dirty fossil fuel that gives off toxic emissions—endangering the health of the people who ride them and contributing to global warming. 

The good news is we have the technology to start building cleaner, healthier cities and neighborhoods. Dramatic declines in battery costs and improvements in performance, including expanded driving range, have made electric buses a viable alternative to diesel-powered and other fossil fuel buses. 

Replacing all of METRO’s diesel-powered transit buses with electric buses could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 43 million pounds each year. 

Electric buses can also be more affordable than fossil fuel buses in the long run, since they have 30 percent fewer parts, no exhaust systems, their braking systems last longer, and they don’t require oil changes or fossil fuels. Over the lifetime of the bus, an electric transit bus can avoid hundreds of thousands of dollars in operating costs over an equivalent diesel or natural gas bus, from lower fuel and maintenance costs. 

We urge you to no longer purchase any more diesel buses. Putting new diesel buses on the road today will pollute our city for at least twelve more years. Instead, as buses are ready to be retired, please replace them with clean electric ones.

The Houston region is receiving $32 million from the Volkswagen Settlement funds, but that money is yet to be dispersed. This is a great opportunity for METRO to start transitioning to clean electric buses. 

 

We look forward to working with you to one day give all Houstonians the opportunity for a “whisper-quiet, green ride.”

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Blog Post

U.S. PIRG is calling on municipal, state and federal policymakers to mandate face masks in all indoor public spaces, as well as in outdoor locations where it’s hard for people to socially distance six feet apart.

Report

Our report on how manufacturers restrict repair for devices in hospitals, and how that impacts patient care. The report includes a survey of 222 medical device repair professionals, which highlights how widespread these issues are in hospitals, even during the pandemic. 

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund

A new report out today by the Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG) Education Fund surveyed county clerks and election administrators to understand how they are preparing for the primary runoff during a pandemic. The group surveyed and researched more than 46 counties, sending out a survey, conducting interviews, and researching websites to determine what steps are being taken to make our elections safer and what still needs to be done. 

Report | TexPIRG Education Fund

TexPIRG Education Fund surveyed 24 county clerks and election administrators to understand how they are preparing for the primary runoff election during COVID-19

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