COVID-19 cases are going up again in the United States. According to the CDC, there are more than 11 million people that have been infected with the virus. It strikes me when I see that large number because I start to think about just how much the Black/Brown, Latinx and all other marginalized communities have been suffering, and if things continue the way they do, how much they will continue to suffer. These are the people that I have to think about because it is what I face once I go back and visit Philadelphia.
Black people are 2.6 times more likely to contract COVID-19, 4.7 times more likely to be hospitalized and 2.1 times higher to die from the virus. In all these categories, Black people are second to Native Americans and followed by those that identify as Hispanic or Latinx.
It is not a surprise that marginalized communities who live in urban settings are more prone to getting COVID-19. Due to that fact that much of the most affordable housing is close in proximity to each other, the risk of exposure is much higher. However, it’s not like they have much choice: Where else would they go? What else could they do if they have to work to survive?
There is embedded racism in our societal structure that continues to show up especially in times of crisis like a global pandemic. “Was this always meant to happen?” I ask myself.
No matter what happens, it is likely that those who are poor or considered a minority are on the short end of the stick. This is another reality of being a disadvantaged group in the country. Even when the country shut down back in March, minorities were at even more risk because most are essential workers.
After reading various articles that have been written in the wake of COVID-19, I have found things that I did not think about. In most cases, frontline workers do not have health insurance benefits, or they might not even be provided with proper equipment to keep themselves, customers and their families safe.
I have realized that there were people that simply could not deal with the COVID-19 anxiety and quit their jobs to stay home. People were put in the middle of either having a wage to keep themselves alive or staying home to stay protected.
Perhaps a larger discussion should be centered on all the barriers that stand in place for minorities, which revolve around testing and health care. Again, according to data from the CDC, minorities tend to suffer more from obesity, diabetes and kidney disease, which are risk factors for severe illness from COVID-19. The reason why minorities suffer from these illnesses’ would be a topic for a whole other conversation that stems from the oppression of the system.
But tests were not accessible to just anyone. I remember at the beginning, people had to pay $100 or more for them. Even though there was an act that overturned this, it should not have been like this at all.
After hearing different situations from people, I think treatment should also be more affordable. Not everyone gets better after two weeks; it could take a month or more. The costs of medicine or hospital care should be covered so that it can be one last thing to worry about in this chaotic 2020.
This is a moment in history that many will look back at in the future. I am glad that there are continuous studies that monitor COVID-19 and how it remains prevalent for minorities. It is important to learn from history to not commit the same mistakes, because history does not repeat, but it is reflected. Even today, we see those reflections in policies and who COVID-19 has affected the most.