Just over one year ago, the United States suffered its first known COVID-19 death. At the time, many scientific experts were concerned that a pandemic would erupt, killing hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Those experts were pretty much ignored, in favor of just wishing the virus would magically go away.
And now here we are, 12 months later, with no pandemic problems whatsoever (as long as we don’t count the over 471,000 dead Americans).
Hey, what do those egghead “scientists” know, right?
In any case, it’s worth noting that while the coronavirus doesn’t car who it infects, we Americans most certainly do. And our top priority is ensuring that affluent White people do not get sick.
But COVID-19 can devastate entire Latino communities without Americans getting upset about it. We know this because that’s exactly what has happened.
Coronavirus hospitalization rates for Latinos are more than quadruple the rate among Whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and “in almost every state in the nation, the number of Latinos affected by the disease is higher” than their percentage of the population.
Furthermore, Hispanics get infected at a higher rate than other groups and often suffer worse effects. This is because, for starters, we are more likely to have underlying health issues, and less likely to have health insurance.
But it is also because Latinos often work in jobs that potentially put us at risk. And yes, many of those jobs are on the fabled frontline.
This is especially true among the undocumented. In fact, “more than two-thirds of undocumented immigrant workers have frontline jobs considered ‘essential’ to the U.S. fight against Covid-19.” And nearly one million essential workers are Dreamers protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
So if you’re keeping track, Latino immigrants are keeping the country afloat, and putting themselves at enormous risk to do so, in exchange for being demonized, threatened, and blamed for all of the nation’s problems.
Sweet deal, huh?
It would be nice, of course, if the country acknowledged the huge debt that it owes to Latinos. But many Americans are too busy shouting slurs at us, or calling 911 over minor slights, or just cheering on ICE raids. So they haven’t gotten around to writing out the thank-you notes yet.
Maybe they’ll be more grateful during the next pandemic, when no doubt Latinos will once again be tasked with rescuing a nation that hates them.
And speaking of the next viral outbreak, remember in the early days of coronavirus, when many people said that diseases like SARS and bird flu seemed like a test run?
Well, it’s quite possible that SARS and H1N1 were not warnings about COVID-19. It may be that COVID-19 is itself a warning of something much worse to come in the future.
Next time, I wonder if we’ll listen to the scientists.
Featured image: A Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation (SPMF) Covid-19 mural outside their facility on Valencia Street in San Francisco, CA (Amy Osborne/San Francisco Chronicle)