Coronavirus Opinion

We need to do better to stop COVID-19 from disproportionately affecting minorities

The phrase “we are all in this together” has circled around to promote positivity, and while it is an encouraging message, it’s important to understand that the coronavirus pandemic is affecting some communities more than others. 

Factors such as having lower income, living in food deserts, and having less access to health care are putting minority communities at higher risk of contracting the virus. 

We need to be educated on how this pandemic is affecting everyone so that when it’s over, we can work to make sure inequalities like this don’t exist in the future.

High death rates

There is a higher death rate for black and Latino Americans with COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, than their white counterparts. This is due to many reasons.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that black workers are overrepresented in the essential workforce, putting them at higher risk for the virus. Similarly, Latinos also make up a large proportion of the essential workforce

A lot of these essential jobs are in the service industry and don’t provide health insurance and pay relatively low wages. This means that if someone gets sick, they won’t be able to go to the hospital, much less afford the bill.

This goes to show that social distancing is certainly a privilege. 

One reason black communities have been hit so hard is housing disparities. Black children are more likely to suffer from asthma because they live older buildings, usually near polluting highways.

People with moderate to severe asthma, according to the CDC, are at greater risk if they contract COVID-19.

Banks tend to discriminate by denying minorities loans and mortgages that could help them fix their homes. This redlining prevents minorities from leaving areas that put them in danger. 

Many minority communities also don’t have access to hospitals.

A 2013 study shows hospitals in black neighborhoods are more likely to close than hospitals in white communities.

Even if the community had access to hospitals, they may not go in fear of burdening their family with medical bills if they don’t have insurance. 

Indigenous communities

Similar issues are happening to indigenous communities, which are seeing high rates of COVID-19 cases.

The Navajo Nation has a lot of households without running water, making it difficult to follow preventative measures against COVID-19. And few health care facilities in their region, the Navajo don’t have good access to healthcare to treat and test symptoms. 

The U.S. government has been unhelpful and slow in sending supplies to indigenous communities. The Seattle Indian Health Board requested medical supplies from federal agencies.

Instead of testing kits, it was sent body bags.

 While the Treasury Department recently announced $4.8 billion will go to tribal governments, many consider it to be too late, as the virus picked up over two months ago.

Despite treaties with tribes that stipulate that the United States has an obligation to care for Native Americans, the U.S. has neglected these communities. 

The reason that minorities are suffering much more from COVID-19 is because of systems in the U.S. that oppress them. Many may argue that it isn’t intentional, but that doesn’t matter. 

The U.S. has victimized minority communities by pushing them into unsanitary conditions, making it unaffordable to leave and making it difficult to access healthcare.  The U.S. is passive to their struggles and that is not OK. 

By realizing that this pandemic does not affect everyone equally, we can fight for a system that actually helps minority communities.

When the next crisis comes, they should not be bearing the worst of it. 

The U.S. is failing a good portion of its residents. We need to do better. 

For more of The Cougar’s coronavirus coverage, click here.

Anna Baker is an English sophomore who can be reached at [email protected] 

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