Becoming Marginalized in a Pandemic is Eye-Opening

Body bags piled in a Detroit hospital

By Dave Lindorff

          As a white male from a middle class family in which both parents had gone to college, and where my dad was a tenured professor with a  PhD in electrical engineering and degrees from MIT and U of Penn, and a graduate from an elite private university, Wesleyan, I have always known that I am a person of privilege. So it is with some interest that I find myself now, in this time of Coronavirus pandemic, suddenly in an unprivileged status.

As a 71 year old,  I’m in an age bracket (70-80) that has a 4.3% chance of dying if I contract the coronavirus. On top of that, I have a fairly rare auto-immune condition in my lungs called sarcoidosis. It’s a condition common to Africans and Scandinavians (that would be me) that, if it flares up, can cause scarring of the lungs, and that I have learned makes me vulnerable to pneumonia anytime I contract an upper respiratory infection.

As a result of my age and underlying medical condition, in a time of pandemic like this when hospital and physician resources are stretched thin I am likely to be triaged out of care, and especially of scarce acute care in an ICU.

I’m not happy about that, but can understand the logic of triage. Why waste precious resources on someone who is less likely to survive when offering it to someone healthier and younger could save them? Knowing the situation, I’m taking special care not to catch this deadly and highly communicable virus, but who knows whether some COVID-19 might slip through my defenses? 

At the same time, while I know I’m in a vulnerable position because of age and what might technically be called “infirmity,”  I’m pissed as hell that I have a government that is ready to put my life in jeopardy further by prematurely loosening the lockdown that has been in place now for several weeks, not because it’s done its job, and not because it’s not working, but because there are huge economic pressures to get people back to work and back to spending money in US economy that is 70% composed of consumer spending.

It’s money for lives, and I and my age and medically vulnerable cohort are not the only ones threatened. Also threatened, we know from testing results for the disease and mortality statistics, are poor people of color who are vastly more likely to get coronavirus infections and to die of the disease whatever age they are. Much of the reason for this disproportionate vulnerability is about poverty. Blacks are statistically much poorer than whites, live in more crowded housing, are more likely to have three or even four generations living in the same household, and have vastly less access to medical care — especially primary care. The overall health in communities of color is also poorer than in middle-class, mostly white communities…

For the rest of this coronavirus pandemic diary by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the uncompromised, collectively run, six-time Project Censored Award-winning alternative news site, please go to:

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