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Cry for America

GUEST COMMENTARY-Can’t people add? Or do they choose not to? 

Last week the CDC projected there would be between 124,000 and 140,000 American deaths by the 4th of July. What an amazing gift for our country’s 124th birthday! 

A mere five weeks after a May 20 headline which read: “LA (County) coronavirus cases top 40,000 but outbreak appears to be waning” our numbers have passed 90,000. That is not accidental. 

At the beginning of June, Angelenos celebrated the relaxation of the quarantine rules by thronging onto the beaches, traveling, toasting grads and honoring dads in large numbers and generally tossing out all the benefits of the early lock down. The number of COVID infections has spiraled. Up, not down. 

The City and companies may have had dollars in their eyes with thoughts of the economy emerging from paralysis but have been blinded to its reality – more illness, more hospitalizations, more death. 

In the wake of over 4,000 new California cases in one day, the Governor finally came to some sense and ordered people to wear face masks in most indoor and all outdoor settings where social distancing cannot be maintained. 

The national decrease reported in recent weeks is based on an average of cases which, if New York City and other hotspots are removed, just continues the upward trend. And the percentage of tests which are positive keeps increasing. The U.S., with just 4% of the world’s population, is now reporting 20% of its new cases. 

In fact, the purported downward trend is a fantasy pushed by a bored middle and upper class who want to get out and play – the minimum wage class of primarily black and brown and poor have been hard at work in “essential services” jobs putting their lives at risk to care for the ill and put food on the tables of those sheltering at home. 

And by those putting short term profits above human lives, again primarily black and brown and poor lives. 

This pandemic has been disproportionately killing African Americans across the U.S. Blacks are 13% of the population but account for 24% of COVID deaths. 

APM Research Lab estimates that close to 15,000 African Americans would still be alive if they died from the virus at the same rate as white Americans. 

This pandemic has disproportionately infected Hispanics in Los Angeles County. Almost 28 thousand have tested positive compared to 7,400 Caucasians and 2,500 Blacks. Even with Hispanics comprising about 47.7% of the populace vs. 27.8% white and 8.7% Black, Hispanic infections are running twice those of whites or Blacks. However, as a percentage, Black deaths are higher than Hispanics or whites. 

And people of color are so often the ones still working in our stores, delivering our mail, and caring for the sick. They are too often the ones who can’t afford to stay home and too often live in more crowded conditions than white residents. 

The science is clear. 

Wearing masks helps. Social distancing helps. 

COVID symptoms do not manifest for a week to 10 days after exposure – so 14-day quarantines make sense.  

The COVID infection is most easily transmitted where large numbers of people congregate in poorly ventilated areas such as offices, factory floors, prisons, churches, and stores. And political rallies. 

If the United States had initiated social-distancing measures a week earlier than it did — in early March rather than mid-March — about 36,000 fewer Americans would have died, one third of the deaths to date. 

Yesterday (June 24), over 38,000 new cases were reported across the U.S. More than any single day. Ever.  

By mid-May, over 36 million jobs had been lost, dwarfing the 22 million jobs created since the Great Recession. Over 100,000 small businesses have folded, and many more won’t survive the pandemic and the economic depression that will follow. 

Why are leaders receiving death threats from people who want social distancing regulations lifted? Why are so many Americans so willing to engage in activities that will put them and their loved ones at risk? 

Why did it end up this way? 

Why does the United States with 4% of the world’s population, have more than a quarter of the world’s coronavirus cases? 

Why does the United States, while spending twice as much per person on healthcare, have so many deaths? These numbers will only continue to accelerate.

 

(Liz Amsden is an activist from Northeast Los Angeles with opinions on much of what goes on in our lives. She also writes on behalf of the Budget Advocates’ mission regarding the City’s budget and services. In her real life she works on budgets, for film and television, where fiction can rarely be as strange as the truth of living in today’s world.) Graphic: KWWL.com. Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.