Three important pieces to share regarding some of the myths and stigmas surrounding COVID-19:
A MESSAGE FROM COLUMBUS CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT SHANNON G. HARDIN:
COVID-19 Does Discriminate and Requires More Solidarity than Ever Before
Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard that “coronavirus doesn’t discriminate.” It’s true that anyone can catch COVID-19 and pass it along to others. You can catch COVID-19 regardless of how much money you make, the color of your skin, or how you worship. But in recent days, we’ve seen new data around how COVID-19 impacts African Americans and communities of color.
Coronavirus may not discriminate, but underlying health and economic disparities mean that the impacts of COVID-19 will hit neighborhoods like the Near East Side and Southfield the hardest.
As of April 8, 2020, African American residents made up 28 percent of positive cases in Columbus Public Health’s jurisdiction. This lines up with the City’s population and means that black residents are not catching COVID-19 at a disproportionately high rate. However, African Americans are over-represented in the number of hospitalizations from the virus. Much of this can be attributed to pre-existing health issues that impact the black community.
Protecting ourselves from COVID-19 is a unique challenge for black residents. A neighbor of mine recently wrote an opinion piece published in the Boston Globe titled, “Why I don’t feel safe wearing a mask.” He wrote he was afraid of being mistaken as a danger to others by wearing a bandana around his face. That by wearing a face-covering, he could put his own body in harm’s way. My repost of this article caught some attention because I think we should wear face coverings. However, black people, particularly young black men, should be aware and cognizant of the bias and prejudice because of it. It is clear that we experience the precautions to guard against COVID-19 in unique ways.
Aside from the health impact, it’s evident that our most vulnerable residents will face the brunt of the economic fallout. That’s why our local, state, and federal response must not only address the necessary public health realities, but also grapple with the financial inequities that exist for working families and people of color across our country.
We are certainly all in this together. Reliance on one another has never been more apparent — from the need to stay in our homes to prevent community spread to the way neighbors are stepping up to provide food, toilet paper and entertainment through mutual aid networks. But our solidarity should extend further than to our family and friends.
We’re asking so much from so many: healthcare workers, first responders, teachers, bus operators, grocery store cashiers, and others face new challenges and risks as they serve our community. I hope that the silver lining in this virus is that we can rekindle a bond between working people and that as a society, we can extend solidarity to the most marginalized and most impacted, ultimately ushering in a more just City.
Shannon G. Hardin
Columbus City Council President