As the COVID-19 pandemic continues across America, we have reached the point where it has affected all of us. We all know someone who has fallen ill, or worse, succumbed to this deadly virus. And it’s easy to assume everyone has the same access to health care.
But, as poet Damian Barr said, “We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat.”
It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected Black and brown Americans the most. The coronavirus exploits the health consequences of systemic racism. The proof is in the numbers: Black Americans are three times more likely to die of COVID-19 than white Americans. It’s not OK to think this is OK.
Instead, let’s confront the shortcomings of our past and fight for health equity for all. It is long overdue for Utah government agencies to make an effort to address this issue head-on. When we tie health care to our jobs, making it an economic privilege rather than a right, we all lose as a society and an economy. Utahns know this — our values as a people want us to help others. This pandemic has shown us the flaws in tying our health care system to a job. If one gets sick, the risk to all of us is so much greater if they cannot get the health care that they need.
Brandon Dew, President, Central Utah Federation of Labor, Riverton