This is the third story of a five-part series that highlights the struggles of international workers. Though the article focuses more on minorities who are citizens, it's a crucial topic that's required to narrate the story of those neglected in America.
By the end of March the country’s rich and powerful had pushed the narrative of the disease being an equalizer. This notion is false.
The idea entered American consciousness when New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo called COVID-19 “the great equalizer” on Twitter. Celebrities like Madonna did the same. Their statements meant the obvious -- the Coronavirus does not discriminate in who it chooses to attack if the person concerned has not taken necessary precautions. While the virus mainly seems to affect the elderly with fatal consequences, there are numerous cases where fit young people contract it too.
So how are the politician and the crooner’s statements wrong? Well, the unfairness lies in the aftermath of getting infected, specifically, when it comes to treatment. Initially, before testing was free there was a lot of selection with who got tested. Higher infection rates were cropping up in wealthier neighborhoods in counties like Los Angeles. “The larger numbers in affluent communities may be a result of the ability to pay a higher price to obtain testing,” professor of social work at the University of Southern California and a fellow at the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics Robyn Cox informed Crosstown. Ultimately, people living in lower-income and marginalized neighborhoods were neglected.
It resulted in the virus moving from the rich to the poor, even as testing became free to all members of the public. Essential workers suffer greatly as they work jobs that require them to be in close contact with the masses at all times. “If you’re a grocery worker, you might be at higher risk. These are jobs where they’re interacting with more people compared to someone like a professor, who works from home,” said Neeraj Sood, a lead investigator in a pilot study examining how many Angelenos have been exposed to COVID-19. The low rate of jobs also contribute to poverty and the subsequent exposure to harmful living conditions. Foreign-born workers in need of employment also fall into this category.
Race and nationality play significant roles in the response to the virus. According to the COVID Tracking Project, Black people are dying at twice the rate of white people across the country. Similarly, Hispanic people are dying at 1.5 times the rate of white people. Data shows that the best care is inherently received by groups who are powerful, wealthy and overwhelmingly white. Immigrant workers are also caught in the crossfire. Many of them work blue-collar jobs, and in some cases the work conditions are unhygienic and life-threatening. Furthermore, employers are also failing to provide necessary healthcare instructions to them in multiple languages, as many foreign-born workers do not speak English. Both the numbers and human accounts prove that the status quo has not budged. The Coronavirus may be ravaging everything in its path, but it is the systemic oppression built by America’s powerful that’s ensuring the absence of social equilibrium.
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