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#PressIsNotTheEnemy – so why are the police acting like it?

#PressIsNotTheEnemy – so why are the police acting like it?

Posted on 15 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Too
much
coffee

Tesha M. Christensen

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN,
Owner & Editor
Tesha@MonitorSaintPaul.com

Over 148 journalists were attacked by police in the United States between May 28 and June 4, 2020.
Yes. I said 148.
Yes, by the police.
Yes, in the United States.
Over 100 of those attacks happened between May 28 and June 1 as journalists covered the protests after George Floyd’s murder by a white police officer here in the Twin Cities at Chicago and 38th.
At the investigative news website Bellingcat, senior investigator Nick Waters, who tracked the incidents jointly with the U.K. Guardian, said, “Although in some incidents it is possible the journalists were hit or affected accidentally, in the majority of the cases we have recorded the journalists are clearly identifiable as press, and it is clear that they are being deliberately targeted. This pattern of violence against journalists is replicated in several cities, but appears most intense in Minneapolis.”
Yep. Right here.
Over one-third of these attacks against the news media happened here.
Attacks on the media were reported across 24 states and in Washington, D.C. Denver, Colorado and Los Angeles recorded the most attacks outside Minneapolis, with 10 incidents each, reported the Guardian.
According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, there were more than 300 total press freedom violations during that time.
That’s:
• 49+ arrests
• 192 assaults
• 42 equipment/newsroom damage
Assault category breakdown:
• 69 physical attacks
• 43 tear gassings
• 24 pepper sprayings
• 77 rubber bullets/projectiles
The majority of these violations were done by local police departments, but some were by state troopers and National Guard.
In comparison, only 11 journalists were injured by protesters.
“I’ve never seen so many incidents with police and reporters simultaneously in different cities. Tension between cops and reporters is nothing new. Aggression on reporters in multiple locations nationally at same time is something different,” tweeted Maggie Haberman of the New York Times.
Veteran reporter John M. Donnelly tweeted, “CNN reporter on Lafayette Square says on air that a DC police officer struck the CNN cameraman with a baton, even though the cameraman was holding, um, a camera and a credential. These incidents keep piling up.”
Journalists have compared their experiences in war-torn countries with what they experienced in Minneapolis. “I’ve covered protests involving police in Ferguson, Mo., Baton Rouge, La., Dallas and Los Angeles. I’ve also covered the U.S. military in war zones, including Iraq and Afghanistan. I have never been fired at by police until tonight,” said L.A. Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske.
As reported by Bring Me The News: Many of the assaults on media were shown on live television, with reporters from FOX 9 seeing rubber bullets smash their station vehicle windshield, along with WCCO reporters Jeff Wagner and Mike Max seen on live TV running from tear gas and rubber bullets. Star Tribune reporters Ryan Faircloth and Chao Xiong were attempting to drive home near Lake Street when Faircloth said they “mistakenly turned down a street that was blocked off at the end,” and “before we had a chance to reverse, the “Guard/ State Patrol fired #rubber bullets at our car without warning.” The shattered glass cut Faircloth’s face and arm and left shards of glass inside their vehicle.
And then there’s photojournalist Linda Tirado. Shot by a rubber bullet in the face, she is permanently blind in her left eye.
Yes. This happened in the Twin Cities. By those who are supposed to serve and protect. It didn’t happen in a country that lacks a Bill of Rights.
Instead, it occurred in a place where freedom of the press is protected by the First Amendment.
At least, it is supposed to be.
I’m seriously questioning what happened, and what this means for our country.
For 231 years, this language has been the hallmark of the United States of America, and what sets this nation apart from so many others:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
What does it mean for the country when this is violated?
When it is broken in very direct, very blatant, very violent ways by the folks who are supposed to protect it?
In Cleveland, Ohio, journalists were specifically forbidden by the police to be outside covering anything happening in the city on May 31.
What were they trying to hide? Those without anything to hide aren’t threatened by folks with pens, paper and cameras.
I’m not the only one asking that question.
I’m not the only one outraged.
As City Pages reported:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed a class-action lawsuit Tuesday, June 2 on behalf of reporters targeted by law enforcement while covering protests. The respondents include the city of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, police union president Bob Kroll, Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, and State Patrol Colonel Matthew Langer.
The lawsuit demands an injunction to stop police from attacking journalists, a declaration that they violated multiple constitutional amendments, and damages.
“Law enforcement is using violence and threats to deter the media from vigorously reporting on demonstrations and the conduct of police in public places,” said ACLU-MN Legal Director Teresa Nelson.
“We depend on a free press to hold the police and government accountable for its actions, especially at a time like this when police have brutally murdered one of our community members, and we must ensure that justice is done. Our community, especially people of color, already have a hard time trusting police and government. Targeting journalists erodes that public trust even further.”
Linda Tirado has filed her own lawsuit.
Minneapolis also faces a class-action lawsuit brought by protesters.
“Journalists have always been targets of criticism and back in the 1960s they were also targeted by police,” said Robert Mahoney, the deputy executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “But there was an understanding that journalists were necessary and it was incumbent on police forces to allow them to do their job. That has changed.”
Why? Why has it changed?
Is it because of President Trump’s constant attacks on the press? He has tweeted the phrases “Fake News” and “Enemy of the People” over 800 times since getting elected. As I’ve been saying for years, just because you don’t like what’s in the news doesn’t mean it is fake. Just because you wish someone was doing something else and you read about it in the newspaper doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the newspaper. In fact, you should be thanking news sources for the information.
I hope this marks a turning point in America. I hope we’ve been sufficiently shocked by where our policies and attitudes have brought us, and we’re dedicated to real change.
There’s a lot for us to be shocked about these days, and much to work to change. This is one of those important issues. I hope you start talking about it, reading about it, and working in support of journalists.
Oh, and you might see me out and about wearing my #PressIsNotTheEnemy shirt. You might find my kids sporting their own #DemocracyDiesInSilence t-shirts. Maybe you need one, too.

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Reopening the Midway

Reopening the Midway

Posted on 15 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Building a stronger Midway

Chad Kulas

By CHAD KULAS,
Midway Chamber of Commerce Executive Director
chad@midwaychamber.com

Over the past month you have probably noticed more businesses reopening, leading to more cars on the road and fewer people staying at home. In the Midway, particularly along University Ave., businesses are reopening due to fewer restrictions for COVID-19 and are returning after the civil unrest led to boarded up buildings. While we have been reopening in Minnesota, it is hard to ignore the headlines from other states where they opened earlier and are now closing again after a spike in new COVID-19 cases. It can be hard to predict our future – in a month or two are we going to be more open than now, or less?
We can all do our part in helping keep businesses open by wearing masks. A mask is uncomfortable, but not as bad as a ventilator. It is important to remember now that the reopening must be handled with care –continue practicing proper social distancing, wash your hands, be careful what you touch and wear a mask.
The Midway faces another challenge as it attempts to reopen: The businesses impacted by the damage caused during the civil unrest in late May. Even for those who didn’t sustain their own property damage, they are faced with concerned clients and customers wondering what’s open amidst boarded up windows.
For many of these businesses, they have gone through a lot of thought about their future. If they suffered damage, do they have insurance. If they have insurance, what does it cover? Do they want to reopen? As businesses discover what is and is not covered by insurance, they get a clearer picture of their needs.
The Midway Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance, have created a fund to support those impacted with property damage. These businesses, nonprofits and building owners are encouraged to apply for funds at https://www.saintpaulchamber.com/welovestpaul.html. Funds have begun to be awarded and will continue so for many more weeks.
Other businesses and individuals are stepping up to help by utilizing their skills. Some companies have offered support by working with insurance companies, while others have equipment they can use or a product that can help. For example, some companies can remove graffiti and helped beautify the Midway by cleaning buildings, signs and transit platforms.
We have our work cut out for us, but thankfully we also have a strong community and other friends willing to do their part. Together, we are working on safely reopening the Midway.

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We can feel both-and: Support protests and grieve loss of local businesses

We can feel both-and: Support protests and grieve loss of local businesses

Posted on 15 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Have a little grace

Amy Pass

By Amy Pass

There was a saying that was repeated so often when I was in graduate school that we all used to groan when our professors would say it. It was a deceptively simple phrase that went like this: “It’s a Both-And.” We used this phrase to refer to situations that seemed like they had to be one way or all another, but somehow were BOTH…AND. Both things. This AND that.
The last several weeks have been a practical lesson in holding two (or sometimes more) seemingly conflicting truths at the same time. As humans we are quick to see things as one way or another. If I am right, you cannot also be right. It is uncomfortable to think that two things that seem conflicting might both be true at the same time. Either-Or is much more comfortable than Both-And.
For example, consider this truth: Riots are justified when an entire people group has been largely unheard for more than 400 years, when no other method of communication has worked, not marches or kneeling or sit-ins or holding signs or writing letters or voting. Literally, nothing else has brought about the necessary systemic changes. The murder of George Floyd pushed many people beyond the threshold of peaceful protest, and that makes sense.
AND this truth: The destruction on Lake Street, University Ave., and elsewhere in Minneapolis and St. Paul hurts the people who live here, many of whom are Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and/or immigrants. Businesses that employed local residents and supplied necessary services are gone, impoverishing already struggling neighborhoods. Some people have lost their entire livelihood. The destruction is breathtaking.
BOTH positions can be true.
We don’t have to pick a truth, take sides, or negate one thing in order to prove the other.
We can hold both truths, though it is uncomfortable and hard to do.
When we hold both truths, it moves us beyond focusing on which thing is the problem and pushes us toward solutions. We need justice and equity for people of color. The question right now is not what types of protest are ok, but where do we go from here? How do we deconstruct and reconstruct? Where can we participate in systemic change and where can we participate in “boots on the ground” relief for our neighbors and community members.
As a white woman, I’ve spent the last few weeks with my ear to the ground, listening to the people who haven’t had a voice. If you’re white, I suggest that you sit back a little bit and do the same. Make space for others to take the lead. Be conscious of taking up all the space in a conversation. Consider that your concerns have often (always?) taken precedence over those of others. We can’t have a just and equitable system if we can’t hear that our answers have historically only kept white people safe. None of us want a repeat of the last month, not another murder, not fires, not curfews or police wearing riot gear or the National Guard.
So listen.
Pay attention.
Follow the lead of your non-white neighbors, friends, and community members. They know systemic racism from the inside.
Until the voices on the inside are heard, there will be no peace, only silence.
Until silenced voices are heard, there can be no justice, no equality.
No justice. No peace.
Amy Pass earned her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Bethel Theological Seminary. But perhaps her greatest lessons have come from raising two children and maintaining a 21-year marriage.

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I can’t breathe

I can’t breathe

Posted on 15 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Capturing moments

South Minneapolis writer and photographer, Abha Karnick

By Abha Karnick

I watched his last breath. Millions of people soon would as well.
I can’t breathe.
He was murdered on my block next to the bus I ride, in front of my children, in front of the world.
I can’t breathe.
Crowds gathered and my eyes glistened. Glistened with tears, glistened with light from the fires, glistened with hurt and fear and anger.
I can’t breathe.
My city was burning, my people were scattering, my world was shattering. Yelling, cursing, crying. In one ear and out the other, or so it seemed. My senses overwhelmed, my grief inexplicable.
I can’t breathe.
The haze drifted like fog, blocking the view of the city, clouding the hearts of the oppressed. The unheard were here, they were pleading. I was pleading. Let them be heard.
I can’t breathe.
Flowers, thousands, lay on the streets. Graffiti lined the walls of the train and the businesses. “Fuck the 12” “Black Lives Matter” “Society awakens”
I can’t breathe.
This is my city. My city. I ache as history again repeats, never letting up as injustice hits the streets. Ashes from the fires settled on lawns and houses, asking to be seen, needing to be seen.
I can’t breathe.
When will future history books remove the white-authoritative narrative and choose truth? Oh, Minneapolis.
Oh, Minneapolis. I can’t breathe.

Photo by Abha Karnick

Abha Karnick is a south Minneapolis resident with East Indian roots who graduated from Hamline University in 2019. She grew up in the Twin Cities and found her passions in music, photography, and writing. She has pieces published with CAAL, MNAsianStories, and HER Online Journal, and her passion lies in storytelling and finding the moments to capture.

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Frog Food: Fight for Justice

Posted on 09 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

by Z Akhmetova

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Tags:

Do not look away

Posted on 09 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

by Dr. Ronald Bell,
Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church pastor
My city is burning, but not in the way the media is showing. Did you see the fire, not the one burning down the precinct but the one burning in the hearts of the wounded in my community? The grieving mothers and grandmothers recalling the voice of our dear brother George Floyd, as he called for his mother, while taking his last breath. The burning of the hearts of we who wept, when our governmental leaders refused to arrest the murderer of this wicked and inhumane deed. Did you see that fire?
… You must have witnessed the looting? Not the ones the cameras and social media love to exploit, but instead the looting of our human rights. The looting of our constitutional rights as citizens. The looting of our communities for decades by corporations for greed. Did you see that looting?
I think you were so busy looking for a riot that you missed the gathering of the grieving. I think you were so busy looking for looters that you missed the lament and heartbreak of a community. I think you were so busy looking for trouble that you missed the tragedy of systemic racialized trauma on the bodies of black and brown people. Tonight, tomorrow, and even the next day I beg of you, look again. Look again.
This is an excerpt. Read the entire essay at www.drronbell.com/.

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Rebuilding a strong Midway

Tags: ,

Rebuilding a strong Midway

Posted on 09 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

By CHAD KULAS,

Chad Kulas

Midway Chamber of Commerce Executive Director
chad@midwaychamber.com

Without question, these past few weeks have been some of the most stressful and difficult days in the history of the Midway. Following the horrific murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, civil unrest came to the Midway. We saw buildings burn to the ground, and unease fall over our community as suspicious vehicles drove on our streets during our temporary curfew and sirens blared in the background.
But the Midway is strong, and full of pride. After a loud and destructive Thursday night, Friday morning saw so many coming to University Avenue to help clean that the initial cleanup was already complete before noon and people were seen walking with a broom and nothing to do. At the Midway Chamber, we have fielded several calls from near and far asking how to help. For some, they specifically ask if their skill set or company specialty can assist- such as the person who bakes pies and wanted to give them to business owners, or a company like Aspen Waste who donated the use of a dumpster for used plywood.
People directly impacted are asked multiple times a day what they need. And the answer can change by the day too. While they needed cleanup assistance only for a short while, they then needed help boarding up the windows. While the volunteering opportunity may change, there will continue to be a need for volunteer help as well as donations. Here are some ways to help.
Donate Food. Many food shelves are taking donations, including Community Emergency Service, Keystone Community Services, Open Hands Midway and Midway YMCA. Many of these food drives are also looking for volunteers.
Donate Funds. Businesses and nonprofits will need support as they rebuild and every little bit helps. There are many funds set up for donations, including:
• We Love Midway/We Love Saint Paul A fund established by the Midway Chamber, Saint Paul Area Chamber and Saint Paul Downtown Alliance
• Midway United established by the Neighbors United Collaborative Fund, an initiative serving the Hamline Midway and Union Park neighborhoods.
• African Economic Development Solutions/Little Africa has a fund created to “rebuild African immigrant businesses in Minnesota”
• Asian Economic Development Association is raising funds for “Asian businesses harmed by the unrests”
If your building or business has been damaged, do you know what to do? For many business owners, they needed a few days to process it all and think about next steps. There are restoration companies nearby who can help, including Paul Davis Restoration, Restoration Professionals and Steamatic of the Twin Cities. If you are looking for more tips on what to do and what to be thinking about, the Midway Chamber did a virtual meeting called “Your Business Was Damaged- What Do You Do Now?” and can be found on our website, along with other resources, at midwaychamber.com/member-relief.
Now more than ever is the time to check in with neighbors and others in our community to see if they need anything. Together, we will all help rebuild a strong Midway.

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Thanks for supporting your local newspaper

Tags:

Thanks for supporting your local newspaper

Posted on 09 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Too much coffee

Tesha M. Christensen

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN,
Owner & Editor
Tesha@MonitorSaintPaul.com

Newspapers have your back. We really do. Now more than ever, local is important. Who is open? Who is sick? Who is helping others? Who can you turn to for inspiration and encouragement?
As small businesses take a hit, we’re working to keep bringing you trustworthy, relevant and local news. It’s not a job we take lightly, but is one that is vital to keeping our democracy strong. But as businesses are affected, so are we because our revenue stream is directly tied to theirs in a symbiotic relationship. When they succeed, so do we; and when other businesses suffer, our small, family-owned business follows along the same path.
Last month, we put out the call for help to support our efforts, and we’re so very grateful for those who have sent in donations to our voluntary pay drive. Some of the letters have moved me to tears, so I thought I’d share a few of them.

Notes that have made our day in our virtual office

Dear Editor:
I have been meaning to write you for some time now since reading about your purchase of the paper. I really enjoy getting the paper and value its coverage of our community – the paper isn’t recycled at our house until I’ve had a chance to read through it, often tearing out articles about organizations, issues, or events in our community that I would like to further explore. I’ve noticed the change in coverage since you became owner/editor and I really appreciate the paper’s significant focus on the environment/nature/climate change and our role in it, and the features of inspiring individuals/organizations doing amazing things in our community.
It’s always a bright spot in my day when I see it at my door, and as I work during the day, it’s often a “can’t wait to read” treat for the evening.
I don’t know anything about the newspaper business, but I can imagine that it can be daunting in this day and age. Kudos to you for taking it on – I really admire that and wish you and the paper all the best!
Jane Stockman

Dear Editor:
Happy “belated” World Press Day! I am deeply grateful for the work of you and your remarkable staff as you cover and highlight “our world.”
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Please use the enclosed contribution for any purpose you deem appropriate.
Judith Coggins

 

What’s Open, 2020 Grads
These generous donations will help cover the expenses of printing and delivering a free newspaper to over 21,000 homes with another 4,000 delivered via bulk drops at local businesses. (See form on page 5 to make a donation and enter in a prize drawing for some fantastic gift certificates from local businesses.)
We are the only paper that goes to each and every door in the neighborhood, making sure that everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, age, socio-economic status or disability receives a paper. With deep roots in the neighborhood, the Monitor is a great direct marketing tool for businesses as we get in the hands of local residents – who clip out ads and articles and save them on their refrigerators. We enjoy and value that partnership and synergy.
We’ve launched a few exciting new projects recently as we seek to support and give back to our community. The What’s Open page on our web site (www.MonitorSaintPaul.com) offers free listings for businesses to let customers know how and when they can do businesses with them. Those who want to stand out with more details and deals can opt for a premium listing.
The 2020 Grads web page gives parents a place to honor and recognize their graduates. The class of 2020 has it tough, and we want to help you do something special for them. Rave about your grad from kindergarten, grade 5, grade 8, high school and college/tech school with a free photo and listing of their sports, honors and activities. We want to hear all about it! Make a bigger splash with family photos, highlights and more in a premium listing – and ask family members and friends to contribute.
It’s not necessarily an easy time to buy ads, and when folks are cutting their budgets they may consider slashing their marketing funds. But what history has shown us is that those who stay the course in times of crisis stay in front of their customers and don’t lose market share to their competitors.
Let your customers know if you’re selling online or doing delivery through ads in the Monitor. Share the stories of how you’re involved in the community. Take this time to connect with your customers and reward loyalty. You’ll reap the rewards now and in the future.
“In good times, people want to advertise. In bad times, they must advertise,” said Bruce Barton, an American writer, advertising executive, and politician who lived from 1886 to 1967. It was true during the crises of the 20th century, and it’s true during this pandemic.
I’d love to hear more about how you’re connecting and managing through the COVID-19 pandemic and following the protests. Email, reach out on Facebook or Instagram, or send me a lovely letter through our valuable United States Postal Service.

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Frog Food by Z Akhmetova May 2020

Frog Food by Z Akhmetova May 2020

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

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Letters to the Editor May 2020

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Teen supports Tobacco 21

Dear Editor:
The COVID-19 pandemic is alarming for all of us, including young people. I’m worried about my health, as well as my parents, grandparents and neighbors. I’m glad to see Minnesota leaders stepping up to address the pandemic.
We can’t forget other important ways to keep my generation healthy. There is still a huge problem of youth e-cigarette use, commonly known as vaping. Far too many teens are vaping, and the numbers keep rising. In just three years, the eighth-grade vaping rate doubled, and more than one in four 11th-graders vapes. As a high school senior, I’ve seen these statistics firsthand. My peers have been lured into tobacco use with cool looking products, fun flavors and targeted ads. Many of them were easily hooked by the big nicotine hit once they tried vaping. Some desperately want to quit but can’t stop.
COVID-19 shows we must do more to keep us all healthy, especially when it comes to our lungs. If we can reach kids before they ever start using tobacco products, we won’t see the devastating health consequences later.
I testified at the Tobacco 21 hearing in the city of St. Paul last fall to share my observations and fears about teen vaping. Our local lawmakers listened to the community’s concerns and raised the tobacco sales age to 21, as have local lawmakers in more than 70 other Minnesota cities. But all Minnesota youth should be protected from these dangerous products, and I’m calling on our state lawmakers to pass Tobacco 21 and protect the health of all Minnesota kids.

Brianna Vang
Saint Paul

Together against intolerances

Dear Editor:

Xiang Jiang

As spring appears in St. Paul, we struggle with dual impulses of going outside, yet exercising physical distance.
There is another dual impulse we need to address: the inclinations to demonstrate kindness or hatred. While we check in with relatives and friends to make sure they are doing well or wave to neighbors, verbal and physical threats are aimed at people of Asian descent. We speak from experience. Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society volunteers have been targets of hateful insults blaming China and Asians for the pandemic.
Speaking for our organization and for everyone I’ve known in the Twin Cities – this is not who we are.
The Twin Cities is a beacon of tolerance, a community blending good, old-fashioned midwestern kindness with an appreciation for diversity.
My hope is that a misguided and vengeful few – hiding behind the anonymity of message boards and online comments – will not have their voices elevated over the majority who understand this crisis. No country nor particular group are to blame for a pandemic. We are all in this together.
Our volunteers are proud that the Garden of Whispering Willows and Flowing Waters offers a place to enjoy the splendor of the outdoors in a safe and beautiful place where social distance exists in harmony with transcendent nature. You can sit in the Xiang Jiang Pavilion and relax and contemplate the sights, sounds, and smells of nature.
None of us know when this crisis will end and what “the new normal” will be. But I would bet my last dollar that in the future, the good people of the Twin Cities will gather within our institutions and public spaces to celebrate the diversity and spirit which makes this community a wonderful place to live and work.

William Zajicek
President of the Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society

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2019 Midway Chamber Directory

COVID-19