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Black People are Dying from COVID-19 More than You Think

The African American community is going through a lot right now. Between the political climate, police brutality, and COVID-19, it feels like we are stuck in an alternate universe. A universe where the basic human right to live is being taken as a joke. While I could go on a tangent about everything wrong with America’s treatment of the black community, today I am going to focus on the fact that we are dying from COVID-19 at disproportionate rates.

  1. 1. The Numbers

    According to the CDC, in comparison to white people, African Americans are 2.6 times more likely to contract COVID-19, 4.7 times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19, and 2.1 times more likely to die of COVID-19. These may seem like small percentages to you, but to put the death rate into perspective, 1 in 1,125 African Americans have died from COVID-19 as of August 2020. Why are these numbers so high? Blame the corrupt aspects of the healthcare field.

    From the financial side, many members of the black community are without insurance. Before the pandemic, the unemployment rate for African Americans was at an all-time high. This means there were already numerous people without jobs and or insurance. When COVID-19 struck, these numbers only increased as fast as we were getting sick.

    You may be thinking “the government has to have something in place to aid these unemployed and uninsured people.” Well.. we do, but our current government leaders are constantly trying to take it away. President Obama created the Affordable Care Act: a bill set to address and relieve the problems caused by the cost of health services. However, as of 2017, the bill has been manipulated, almost thrown out, and basically laughed at by our government leaders.

    The other side of the story comes from the quality of care received by African Americans fortunate to have insurance or money for treatment. According to NPR, studies from before the pandemic have shown that symptoms and complaints from black patients were often downplayed or ignored. This same problem has been occurring, and possibly amplified, since the pandemic began.

    An interview with Dr. Ala Stanford, a pediatric surgeon and founder of the Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium, shared insight on what the black community is dealing with now. She said she has been listening “to people speak about their loved ones dying after having prolonged symptoms unattended; people who share stories of many in a home being ill and trying to isolate and quarantine in tight, small spaces; elderly people without a referral from a doctor being turned away for testing.” Stanford ended her discussion by noting that “African Americans represent 12 to 13% of the population but 23 to 24% of the deaths; [this] is unacceptable in a developed nation.”

  2. 2. Why I am Upset

    I am upset because we are in America. A first-world country governed on the principle that all are supposed to have equal rights, including equal access to healthcare. Our President tweeting “Don’t be afraid of Covid…we have [some] really great drugs” was the icing on my cake of irritation. Yes, we may have “really great drugs,” but not everyone can access them. Being the man in charge of our country, you’d think that he would recognize his privilege and use it to shed light on the health crisis in the black community, but no. His tweet is causing a false sense of confidence in some Americans that COVID isn’t that bad; therefore, causing many to go out, live recklessly, and not care about their impact on others.

    I am even more upset because some healthcare physicians are giving into racial bias when treating black patients. Why does the color of someone’s skin make their pain and suffering less valid? Medical school teaches you ethics and values about treating all patients equally and justly, despite your personal beliefs. When doctors walk into hospitals or clinics, their personal values are supposed to be put aside to do what’s right: treat every patient to the best of their ability. So this makes me question: does the Hippocratic Oath have no meaning to physicians anymore?

  3. 3. How you can Help

    black lives matter protester holding sign

    Wear your mask. This protects those who can’t get tested, can’t afford treatment if diagnosed and are in high-risk categories. A mask may feel like an inconvenience to you, but it can be a lifesaver to hundreds that don’t have the same luxuries.

    VOTE. The government’s job is to implement laws, bills, and monetary help to relieve health care disparities. Many people in-office are currently doing the opposite: rejecting helpful policies, pocketing money dedicated to public hospitals, and withholding healthcare benefits promised by Obamacare.

    Write to congress. Not old enough to vote? Make the people currently in office do their job. Remember, the government works FOR the people. Voice your opinion thru emails, letters, phone calls, social media posts, etc.

    Give back. Go volunteer in hospitals, pass out masks to homeless people, donate to campaigns aiding black communities. A small contribution can save a large number of lives.

Stay vigilant. Do your part. Be mindful of others. We're gonna get through this, one way or another.