Over the last month, I have been taking care of patients infected with the novel coronavirus. Every day, I monitor those with a higher risk of serious illness and hospitalization for dangerous symptoms. Many of my patients are very sick, out of breath, and scared. On a recent remote consult with a patient, I urgently called 911 while hearing the anguished cries of loved ones in the background. As a primary care physician, I am used to witnessing illness, but the extent of human suffering associated with this pandemic has overwhelmed me to tears.
That suffering is not random. Early data has made clear that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color. The spread of COVID-19 has followed a path laid by centuries of racism and oppression. Structural injustices have created the conditions in which Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities get sicker and are deliberately shortchanged: in wages, healthcare, education, housing, and access to clean air and water. In short, these are the same communities we know will be most impacted by other crises, including climate change.
That’s no coincidence. As my colleagues and I grapple with the devastating imp... Read more