Common Defense strongly decries the Trump Administration’s negligence in combating the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as the underlying structural racism existing in this country that has worsened the devastation experienced by communities of color during this national emergency.
The COVID-19 outbreak has thrust us into a period of grief and anxiety over the health of our nation, not only with the staggering numbers of infections and fatalities we have seen all around us, but also with the institutional failures within our government that led to these deaths.
Such uncertainty can feel paralyzing, but there are things that ARE certain, on which we can take action:
It is certain that the COVID-19 virus does not discriminate based on race, yet the devastation from COVID-19 has not been doled out equally: according to the CDC, 33% of people who’ve been hospitalized with COVID-19 are Black, even though they comprise only 13% of the U.S. population. It is a fact that Native Americans are more likely to live in multigenerational homes, lack access to running water for washing hands, and be prone to respiratory illnesses. It is undeniable that Asian Americans are being targeted in hate crimes in staggering numbers, even as their high rates of poverty in places like New York City and Las Vegas leave them vulnerable to contracting the illness.
It is certain that Black and Latinx people suffer from higher rates of COVID-19 risk factors such as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. All of these vulnerabilities can be attributed to a complex combination of factors related to poverty, stress, and access to adequate nutrition and healthcare.
It is certain that Black and Latinx people are overrepresented among populations who are most at risk, the incarcerated (including those in immigrant detention centers) and the homeless. It is certain that people of color are nearly twice as concerned about being hospitalized than their white counterparts, particularly if they are poor or working class. And it is certain that small businesses owned by people of color have been hit hardest during this crisis, particularly Asian- and Black-owned businesses, which often struggle with accessing capital to begin with.
We must therefore make certain that a nationwide response to this pandemic includes measures that combat these deeply entrenched inequities. We call upon fellow veterans, as well as elected and community leaders, to fight for universal healthcare, expanded access to federal food and nutrition programs, mass decarceration, increased support for minority-owned small businesses, a livable federal minimum wage, and policies to address income inequality on a wide scale.
Now is the time for compassionate and concerted action. We hope you’ll join us in keeping this administration accountable throughout this crisis and beyond. Our lives depend on it.