How Are Different Ethnicities Dealing with COVID?
Like many of you, I have been watching the COVID-19 pandemic unfold day-to-day since its presence on American soil was acknowledged and publicized. Prior to the announcement that 15 elderly people in a convalescent center were infected with the deadly disease, I had not paid much attention. When cruise ship passengers and active duty service members started to be held at sea due to the spread of coronavirus I grew more concerned. Then, the shocking news of the escalating devastation in New York coupled with the fact that people continued to arrive from countries that already had a high number of infections and deaths made clear for me we were at the beginning of an unprecedented national health emergency.
A virus that was described by President Trump as “under control” prompted the shutdown of some large cities within a matter of days. On March 13, 2020, my school district closed its doors to students and teachers, then to administrators on March 16th. Due to the equity-centered focus of my instructional leadership as a public educator and consultant through the years, I immediately turned my attention to the impact on Black and Brown people who have disproportionately higher incidences of health issues such as heart disease and diabetes and limited access to healthcare services for various reasons.
An online article from APM Research (www.apmresearchlab.org), reported key statistics on the rates of death for major ethnic subgroups in the USA using the following line graph, which confirms how Black and brown communities are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
RATES OF DEATH FROM COVID-19 (PER 100,000 PEOPLE) IN ALL STATES, JUNE 9 - DEC. 8, 2020
*Pacific Islanders from Hawaii were included for the first time causing a significant decrease between 09/15 and 10/13
Black and Brown Communities Have Resources You May Not Be Aware Of
There are community organizations that were addressing the health disparities within black and brown communities before the pandemic and those efforts continue. COVID Mutual Aid USA is one of these organizations that was started by two medical students with the purpose of:
“Raising Awareness by helping people find their local group through the mutual aid map.
Creating Shared Spaces for listening to and connecting with those engaged in, interested in, and supporting mutual aid.
Highlighting Stories of the efforts and success of those groups...providing a space to tackle misconceptions.
Sharing Knowledge of mutual aid toolkits/best practices from the local collective.
Collaborating with mutual aid groups and networks to align efforts and scale impact.
Within my own school community in the San Francisco Bay Area that is predominantly black and brown, I have observed local churches that have partnered with Kaiser Permanente, a mainline healthcare company in Northern California. Kaiser Permanente helps to prevent the spread of COVID within our communities by providing highly accessible sites where locals can get free testing. These sites also share important information on resources to assist with proper quarantine, care, and support whether or not a positive test result is received.
These life-supporting initiatives go beyond the Bay area. I have been blessed to personally give monetary donations to help provide masks, hand sanitizer, food, clean water, and COVID-testing to faith-based organizations like New Birth in Atlanta, Georgia that serves predominantly black and brown communities. Each week, 1,000 families are blessed on a first-come, first-serve basis with food donations from members of the congregation and partnerships with Publix, Trader Joe’s, Lowe’s, Panera Bread, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Home Depot, and Habitat For Humanity. Families can also be tested for COVID on the site and are given literature, masks, sanitizer, and other helpful information to address safety, health, and prevention within our demographic.
Outside of organizations and initiatives at the community level, local areas may have help for essential workers through city or county initiatives. This can help prevent the spread of COVID if people are aware of where to look. As an essential worker (public school educator) also within a highly diverse black and brown community, I have the opportunity along with thousands of other employees who work for the city and county of San Francisco to test at an exclusive drive-thru/walk-up appointment site. Typically, I am tested 3 to 5 days, as recommended by my healthcare provider and local Department of Public Health after working in the district-wide technology device deployment and distribution of school supplies all free of charge to families. Ensuring that I am adequately tested is one more step to keeping them safe. This is another way that essential workers such as custodians, environmental technicians, police officers, public transportation workers, etc. can help prevent the spread of coronavirus to fellow employees and the public whom they are serving.
This is a long fight, but we can and must continue. In light of the recent spike in the number of COVID infections and deaths in the USA after Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, Black and Brown people, we must remain disciplined and determined to defeat this pandemic. Let us continue to take care of ourselves first, and each other second by wearing masks, practicing social distance by at least six feet, and quarantine when required.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay informed.
Dr. Mike Jones has served as a K-16 teacher, executive director, principal, leadership coach, teacher supervisor, and humanitarian for 25 years in the public and private education sectors in the USA, Jamaica, UAE, Slovakia, Nigeria, and Ghana. He is the host of Let’s Talk with Dr. Mike Jones, an online show that informs and connects the global education community through conversations about the impact of COVID-19 and how to respond to the opportunities to transform learning systems. Visit drmikeshow.com.
Comments or Questions? Want to share your educational experience with COVID? I cordially invited you to reach out! All respectful, on-topic comments are welcome.