"Blacks are disproportionately dying from COVID-19. I feel the health system took a gamble on my life."
For most of my life I have been an advocate on issues that did not always affect me directly. COVID-19 has changed that.
On March 9, I went to urgent care. They ran several tests and determined that I would be fine. Four days later I received an email notification that I had been at an event on March 6 where someone had subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.
A few days later I began to feel even worse. I continued to exhibit flu and cold-like symptoms for about 10 days, but I was denied testing.
I am thankful I have health insurance, that the initial doctor’s visit cost me $50, that I am employed and could take sick leave, and then work from home.
Considering that Blacks are disproportionately dying from COVID-19, I feel the health system took a gamble on my life because there were not enough tests to go around. Now we are seeing younger people die of COVID-19 who had no preexisting conditions.
I live alone. What if my symptoms had gotten worse and I could not get to the hospital in time? If I did get there, would it have been too late?
While much of the racial inequity in the healthcare system is due to systemic factors, what is less known is why Blacks who are not low-income still suffer disproportionately.
This crisis has forced me to question our humanity as a country and frankly, our intelligence.
In the early 2000’s I lobbied Congress on behalf of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to protect scientific research at the National Institutes of Health from political influence. I never could have imagined that, 20 years later, we would be making the decisions we are today involving a worldwide pandemic.
It is unbelievable that, in the middle of a public health crisis, scientists are advising continued stay-at-home orders and social distancing while politicians are reopening beaches and restaurants where social distancing is close to impossible.
We all have our own reasons why COVID-19 will change us forever. I hope that I will become an even stronger advocate against the inequities that I thought I personally could escape, and fight for policies that will change our systems for the better.
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