Pandemic exacerbates the inequalities of health careBy Veita Bland, M.D. / April 8, 2020
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In this evolving COVID-19 pandemic, medical experts have indicated that we may see many more deaths in the next two weeks than we have seen before. As the number of deaths rise to more than 13,000, it is difficult to comprehend. But we are finally beginning to see the wisdom of social distancing as we see the flattening of the curve in some areas hard hit such as New York.
It is a sobering thought to realize that in many parts of the country the number of cases is one to two weeks behind New York. In cities such as New Orleans and Detroit, which are in the midst of cases climbing, how many more lives will be lost?
As I write this, 97 percent of America is under a mandate to stay home. We are now encouraged to wear cloth masks in public and we are seeing more legal enforcement of the stay at home mandate. Unfortunately, we will always see people who fail to adhere to the rules, don’t understand the concept or don’t care about their fellow man or woman.
The stay at home policy is working and I encourage everyone to follow it so we can get back to a somewhat normal, never to be the same, life.
It is important to understand that until a vaccine is developed, we will continue to see waves of cases, deaths and then a fattening of the curve (a leveling-off of the number of people infected with COVID-19).
It is also important that we realize who is dying. Overwhelmingly, the death toll has been predominantly comprised of Black and Brown people, often without consistent access to healthcare. Negative outcomes are also highest in elderly people, who have health conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, kidney disease, heart disease and hypertension.
As high mortality rates among Black and Brown people in this pandemic soar, perhaps our communities across the United States can finally understand the pervasive role inequality in health care plays in the lives of people disenfranchised for centuries in this country. We must find ways to care for people, who lack healthcare access.
Next time a pandemic hits, and there will be a next time, let’s hope we’ll have strong safety nets and programs in place to effectively treat people. People must receive the healthcare they desperately need and we must demand such treatment and resources from our leadership. Stay safe and stay home.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at email@example.com.