Opinion: Covid may be over, but the repercussions are not

We need to be working toward the recovery and protection of all communities from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

by Lauren Chevalier

A handful of Americans are causing a preventable increase in poverty and inequality; more specifically, low-SES communities are still lacking pandemic relief resources, and Asian Americans are receiving hate and harassment from the growing stereotype they have and spread the virus. The government must implement a foundation for a human rights-based economic recovery, properly ensuring social protection and an adequate standard of living.

Significant hardship has fallen on poorly-attended communities; tens of millions of Americans lost their jobs in the process. Disproportionate impacts on low-SES communities grew from these, including structural racism through sources such as education, employment, housing and health care. Because of this, some parents still cannot feed their children seven days a week. Imagine that: coming home from a long day of hard work and knowing the money you just earned cannot be put toward the wellbeing of your child. Every kid deserves a meal on the table, no questions asked. Relief attempts have occurred, but this help was not spread far enough; many people still lost their homes due to inadequate systems responsible for distributing that money, and homelessness has increased because of it.

Life, however, is priceless. There is no better way to prevent untimely deaths (especially when in a pandemic) than the development of the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. The big problem: it was not available to everyone. There are clear disparities in the death rates, so intentional neglect occurred in poor communities. How can anyone navigate their lives through a pandemic when their bodies cannot protect themselves in the event of exposure? Better yet, how could you feel safe in public knowing fewer people around you are vaccinated (when more certainly could be)?

Lastly, many Asian Americans are suffering, but not from the same cause. New stereotypes have arisen such as the belief all Asians carry Coronavirus, or their presence in the U.S. is the reason there was a federal shutdown. We all know this isn’t true. Yes, the pandemic began in Wuhan, China. Yes, it spread like a wildfire to other countries, including America. But no, it is not okay to blame or harass any person of Asian descent for the spread of the sickness simply because it started in an Asian country. Some people have been spat on, yelled at and physically assaulted by this hate. I, a proud Asian American, was once told by a stranger to go home from a public coffee shop so nobody would get COVID-19, and this was one of the less extreme examples. These encounters are not only embarrassing and degrading, but they’re preventable.

The way people of one race treat another has an immense impact on national security. Xenophobia is out of control, and we must work together to keep COVID-19 under control, not point fingers and turn our backs on fellow Americans. If America is “The Land of Opportunity,” then people of all different races should receive said opportunities: working a job, attending school and simply walking in public.

Good intentions are not enough; there is a difference between wanting a change and being the change. There should be more prosecution of those responsible for the ignorance of low-income communities as well as people who freely commit racist attacks and get away with them. Simply commenting and sending well-wishes on these unfortunate events will not prevent more from occurring, and America is due to act decisively before more innocent lives are lost, whether it be from COVID-19, or at the hands of a racist.

 

Lauren Chevalier is a psychology BS student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where she is passionate about raising awareness of health inequity and improving the quality of life for all.