A conservative Bulwark columnist is shaming selfish anti-maskers for refusing to do the right thing and protect their fellow man.
Writing Tuesday, Brent Orrell cited a recent poll showing nearly 60 percent of Republicans find the number of deaths from the coronavirus “acceptable.” It matches the attitudes heard at President Donald Trump’s campaign rallies over the weekend where his supporters explained that they don’t need masks.
“There may be a relatively simple explanation for this complacency: the pandemic has disproportionately affected populations that are mostly out of sight and mind for the majority of Americans: elderly in care homes, minorities, farm and food workers, and prisoners,” explained Orrell. “COVID-19, for much of America, is something that happens to other people and many of the others are very old, very poor, people of color, or some combination of all these characteristics. Low-income and minority populations are especially vulnerable to diseases, including COVID, and tend to suffer disproportionately from them. They also tend toward social invisibility and political weakness, unable to command our interest or public health resources.”
Worse than the heartbreaking stories of nurses, doctors, EMTs, teachers and other workers who shouldn’t have died is a sentiment that it was the price one pays for the country reopening. And when it comes to the elderly in care homes, the thought is that they were going to die anyway.
“Our real concern, the logic goes, should be for younger people who have their whole lives ahead of them and are sacrificing their economic futures to lockdowns,” said Orrell. “This collapse of the inter-generational compact has been far more effective at killing them off than any death panel dreamed up in Sarah Palin’s fevered imagination.”
Black and Hispanic Americans have been disproportionately impacted by the virus as access to healthcare in such communities is more challenging than White counterparts. “Blacks and Hispanics are nearly five times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than whites are, and death rates among African Americans are more than double those of whites,” Orrell said, citing the CDC.
Farmworkers and food processing plant employees, who are primarily Latino, have seen huge spikes too. “Since March, there have been over 40,000 infections among meatpacking employees and 200 deaths,” the report cited. Outbreaks have happened in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Oklahoma meatpacking plants, which then meant a shortage in some meats in the area.
The other group ignored is the prison population, where COVID-19 can spread quickly in overcrowded institutions. Orrell explained that few Americans care about the safety and wellness of people behind bars. It’s based on a “heartless logic that those who have been convicted of crimes deserve everything they get, including the brutality, disease, and possibly death that comes along with their sentences.”
“Coronavirus is not something that can be hand-waved away as ‘someone else’s problem,'” he closed. “Whether outbreaks are in major agricultural centers, nursing homes, minority-heavy border regions, prisons, or anywhere else they should concern us all.”
He told conservatives to think about it the next time they ignore social distancing rules or “refuse to wear a mask that might spare another person’s illness or death. The health and well-being you’re endangering might turn out to be your own.”