War on coronavirus will be a losing battle without eye on these communities
If, as a Commonwealth, we hope to control the spread of the coronavirus, we must prioritize the communities where infection and death are still surging (“Disparities drive up coronavirus death rates,” Page A1, May 10). Contagion inevitably runs rampant among those who try to beat exploding rents by squeezing into ever-tighter spaces, those who must work in unsafe environments in order to eat, and those who fear deportation more than infection. A highly contagious illness such as COVID-19 can jump any time from the workers living in Chelsea and Brockton into more sheltered towns.
While the Massachusetts High Technology Council’s report, “The War on COVID-19,” makes valid points, its omission of facts that leave large numbers of Massachusetts residents unable to protect themselves does not bode well for Governor Baker’s ability to bring the virus under control. The composition of the governor’s advisory panel, packed with CEOs while missing representatives of workers and hard-hit communities, similarly dooms it to predictable failure.
This virus obeys laws of biology and physics, not the governor’s political preferences. We may still have a long road ahead before that fact sinks in.
Dr. Julia Koehler
The writer, an infectious disease specialist at a Boston hospital and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, is chair of the immigrant health committee of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Call it what is: a fatal side effect of racism
I was glad to see Andrew Ryan and Kay Lazar’s article shining a spotlight on the shocking disparities in Massachusetts COVID-19 death rates in communities of color. Racial inequities in health outcomes are well known in the United States. That the pandemic would underscore this appalling trend should not be a surprise, but let’s name the real problem: Racism is rampant in our country.
People of color are less likely to be offered diagnostic tests or treatments. Many immigrant and essential workers, nursing home workers, and non-English speakers do not have the option to stay at home. Inadequate housing in our inflated housing market makes it nearly impossible to properly quarantine or isolate if one is exposed or infected. Loss of income, difficulty accessing health care, food scarcity, potential eviction — all of this stress affects the immune system.
Let’s not be surprised by the crushing effects of this pandemic; rather, let’s take action. Let’s dismantle racism in our social institutions once and for all. The rallying cry around this pandemic must be: What affects some of us, affects all of us.
The writer is a registered nurse.