The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing a terrible fact of life in the United States: Inequality.
Whether you’ll be safe or in harm's way, whether you’ll get worse or recover, whether you’ll be helped or forgotten—even whether you live or die—depends to a frightening extent on whether you are male or female, white or or a person of color, young or old, a citizen or an immigrant, rich or poor.
TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress: Pass Medicare for All and the Essential Workers Bill of Rights now!
It’s unconscionable that many of the workers risking exposure to the coronavirus—the people providing us with essential food, healthcare and other services—don’t have health insurance.
Lack of health insurance is one of the many social determinants of health that are shaped by “the distribution of money, power and resources” in ways that result in “unfair and avoidable differences in health status”—including the fact that the coronavirus is twice as deadly for African-Americans and Hispanics as it is for other populations.
Nonwhite women are more likely to be doing essential jobs than anyone else.
In nursing homes, where there have been at least 7,300 COVID-19 deaths as of April 19, 2020, black Americans (nearly all women) make up 30 percent of the direct-care workforce. Among these black workers, 35 percent are immigrants.
In slaughterhouses, one third of the workers doing what was known as “America’s worst job” even before the COVID-19 pandemic, are foreign-born non-citizens. The workforce at the Smithfield pork plant the No. 1 COVID-19 hotspot in the U.S. as of April 15, 2020, is made up largely of immigrants and refugees. Eighty different languages are spoken in the plant.
In New York City, the city with more COVID-19 deaths than any other, the emergency medical service (EMS) workers are the ones responding to coronavirus-related emergencies, including the huge spike in heart attacks caused by the virus.
New York’s EMS is the most diverse of all first-responders: 36 percent women and 54 percent people of color. They get paid the least, an injustice they’ve been protesting for years. Now, of all times, you’d think that Mayor Bill de Blasio would recognize their value. Instead, de Blasio says the coronavirus pandemic is “not the time” to raise their pay.
These workers have always deserved better. But what they are experiencing now, during this life-threatening pandemic, demands that Congress take immediate action by passing Medicare for All and the Essential Workers Bill of Rights.
Ultimately, Congress must address the problems with our current “sick care” system, problems that have been raised by everyone from Bill Mahar and Bernie Sanders, to Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health in the Trump Administration.
Congress must work towards a holistic healthcare system that ensures both health equity and health freedom.
What does that mean? It means that everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, has access to clean air and water, a toxin-free environment, nutritious food and safe places to live, learn, work and age.
It means having the freedom and resources to access preventive, natural and alternative healthcare—not just allopathic medicine’s pharmaceuticals and surgeries.
These freedoms must extend to healthcare providers and healthcare consumers—and they must be made permanent.
As much as we would like to see an end to the coronavirus, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Our best hope of staving off the next pandemic is by creating a holistic approach to healthcare that ensures both equity and freedom.
As Dr. Joseph Mercola says, “For now, the only real defense against COVID-19 is your own immune system.”
A strong immune system depends on limited exposure to toxins in our air, water and food, access to nutrient-dense fresh food and access to healthcare, including preventive and natural health alternatives—for everyone. It’s time!