When news broke that President Donald Trump had tested positive for COVID-19, the news cycle dutifully turned the page on his open white supremacy and the First Lady’s reconfirmed disdain for migrant children. At the same time, across social media, the performative “when they go low, we go high” well-wishes for his speedy recovery rushed in. But with 208,000 Americans dead from the virus, hundreds of thousands out of work, children robbed of their educations, parents struggling, and people reaching the limits of both their financial and mental health coping strategies, if our eyes are suddenly refocused on COVID-19 that doesn’t mean they should be turned toward the president.
While thoughts and prayers may not be finite, our collective attention span is. What this moment demands is not concern for one elected official’s health or speculation about the possible impact on his electoral chances. This is a moment for an accounting. As the engineer of this country’s utterly failed response to the pandemic is finally swept up in the gears of his own machinery, let’s use this time to honor and reflect on the stories of the people and communities who’ve already been fighting through the worst of it.
In case you missed it, here’s what the COVID-19 pandemic has looked like for the rest of America.
Imagine you are a woman who experiences intimate partner violence and because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, you must shelter-in-place with your abuser.
“Just because my mother was over the age of 70 doesn’t mean she was dispensable. It doesn’t mean that she was supposed to be some statistic.”
With a population of nearly 40 million people, California has one-quarter of the nation’s homeless population and for some organizers, finding emergency shelter to stop the virus from spreading has been an uphill battle.
“I already see patients every week who drive hundreds of miles for abortion, but encouraging or requiring long distance travel for health care during a pandemic doesn’t make any sense, and it’s dangerous.”
Farmworkers’ current living and working conditions are deplorable at best, and now potentially deadly given the limited options for taking preventive measures against COVID-19.
“How do I know that they’re taking precautions with my son?”
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nationwide Latina mothers make up nearly half of the coronavirus cases among pregnant women.
“The guards would tell the inmates, 'Prisoners don't matter, I got my hand sanitizer.’”
This pandemic is just the latest front in an ongoing fight to save our cultures, our health, and our lives.
Work expectations haven’t necessarily been reduced to account for the increased domestic burdens.
“There is just an astounding lack of resources and we have to show up for our community by any means necessary, even if it means risking our own well-being.”
LGBTQ+ community members, HIV/AIDS survivors, and advocates in the Bay Area and beyond are feeling the impacts of living through another pandemic.
“ICE is doing zero to protect us; they think of us as illegal aliens and dump us in cages. Our health and safety is not their concern, even when we’re in their care.”
Weighed against all that, the president’s health is not what matters. What matters is how we’ve collectively shown up for our families and communities throughout this ordeal, and how we reimagine our society to prevent another disaster of this magnitude. That project is where I’ll be directing my hopes, and my actions. I hope you will too.
See you next week.
The time is now. BIPOC-led journalism like ours has never mattered more.
If you want to read more of Prism’s reporting—reporting that centers the people, places, and issues currently underreported by national media—please consider making a tax-deductible donation today. Readers like you can play a key role in keeping our newsroom strong. From now through December 31, we’re participating in NewsMatch—a national matching-gift campaign that will match every new monthly donation to Prism 12x, and double any one-time donation up to $5,000.