Written collectively by Zavier Colon, Solomon Harris, Gus Wilson, and Sean Smith
Edited by Addie Johnson
COVID-19: Why Some Areas Are Hit Harder Than Others
It has been three weeks since COVID-19 changed our lives as we knew them. The daily pandemic updates from the U.S. Government and our local news stations indicate that the “Safer at Home” order and social distancing are working, but as a country, we still have a long road ahead. The data presented may show progress, but it also shows that in some cities, there is a severe outbreak of COVID-19 causing many crisis situations. It is important to look at the underlying causes of these outbreaks in order to stop the further spread of COVID-19.
Currently, New York City has the largest outbreak of COVID-19, more than any other city in the United States. As of April 8, 2020, there have been 4,009 deaths in the city alone, with 6,268 deaths in all of New York State according to the Intelligencer magazine. The Guardian reported 1,504 deaths in New Jersey and 959 deaths in Michigan due to COVID-19 as of April 8th. These are the top three “hot spots” of this pandemic.
What is most notable and disturbing is that New York, New Jersey, and Michigan combined make up the majority of COVID-19 deaths in the United States. The major city in each of these states is where the outbreak seems to be happening most. There seem to be underlying reasons why the disease is spreading faster in these cities than in others.
It has now become common knowledge that COVID-19 is spread from the water droplets when an affected person coughs or sneezes on someone. This means that people have to be within 6 feet of each other to possibly become infected. U.S. News & World Report stated that there are so many people living very close together in New York City. They also said that “the coronavirus pandemic has hit especially hard in a few poorer New York City neighborhoods where telecommuting isn’t an option for many workers and there are more likely to be many people living under one roof.” Many of these people can’t leave the city, so they are more likely to become infected. The same can be said for Detroit and in New Jersey. According to the 2009-2013 Census, 299,240 people from New Jersey commute to New York City regularly.
Besides the poorer neighborhoods and people living close together, U.S. News & World Report stated that many of these people are “considered essential workers. A very high percentage of them are in the service industry, and so they aren’t able to just stay home. Or they might be living with a relative who is an essential worker, a front-line worker that might not be able to self-quarantine either.” If they can’t isolate themselves, then they put their lives at risk for getting COVID-19.
African Americans at Greater Risk
Many of the people living in the poorer neighborhoods in these three hardest-hit states are African American. This is becoming an issue all over the United States with the percentages rising daily. Eric Levenson from CNN reported that “Black Americans have more existing medical issues, less access to health care, and are more likely to work in unstable jobs — all factors that have made the coronavirus pandemic disproportionately hurt blacks more.” Many African Americans have diabetes, and heart and lung disease, so it’s easier for them to contract COVID-19. “Compared to white people, blacks have lower levels of health insurance coverage and are less likely to have insurance coverage through an employer” (Levenson). This means that African Americans were more likely to be in overall poor health even before COVID-19. “Black and Hispanic workers are also much less likely to be able to work from home,” so self-quarantine is not an option for many of these people (Levenson).
Closer to Home
Milwaukee is also experiencing a high number of African Americans dying from COVID-19 more than other races. The same reasons it’s happening in Milwaukee are similar to what’s going on in New York, New Jersey, and Michigan. Gov. Tony Evers even called the deaths in Milwaukee “a crisis within a crisis” (Hess). As of April 8th, Milwaukee had 59 deaths and 1,461 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Community organizations and leaders are trying to make sure that African Americans in Milwaukee are being careful to follow the “Safer at Home” order and social distancing since they are at greater risk.
In order for the COVID-19 pandemic to get under control, it will take all U.S. citizens to follow the guidelines and orders from our government leaders and health advisors.
2020, seemed like it was going to be a great year, with Milwaukee being the home of the DNC during the summer, the senior class of 2020 is graduating, the economy was strong, and the unemployment rate was at a near-record low at approximately 3.5%. But like a speeding train, the coronavirus (COVID-19) hit the world-destroying the daily lives of many across the globe including the lives of Americans. The economic impact of COVID-19 is already being compared to the Great Depression. Listed below are a few barometers to watch as we progress through this crisis.
In the United States, we have gone from a near-record-low unemployment level to potentially the highest level of unemployment in history. Most places shut down or temporarily reduced the staff, from restaurants and law offices to factories. The unemployment rates for January were 3.6% and increased in March to 4.4%. Bank of America estimates the unemployment rate for the month of April could reach 14.5%. St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank estimates the coronavirus could lead to 53 million people unemployed which translates to an unemployment rate of 32%. Parents and students at Dominican are impacted by job loss. A parent losing their job may mean their child can no longer attend Dominican. The student losing their job may mean they can’t pay for extracurricular activities. Job loss not only affects the country generally but our family and friends as well.
The stock market began 2020 as strong as it finished in 2019. The S&P 500 gained 31.49% in 2019. As of April 15th, 2020 the S&P has lost 13.85%. These numbers might not make sense but to retirees, they may represent billions of dollars in losses. For example, someone who is planning to retire this year will have 15% less money to retire because they have less money in their savings. The stock market plunge hurts the Dominican endowment fund, which helps fund scholarships for Dominican students. The lower the value of the endowment fund, the less money for scholarships. The impact of COVID-19 on the stock markets affects old and young alike. It doesn’t just impact the rich but it impacts us. From retirement savers to students, both lose some money in one way or another.
Health Care System
With more than 636,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic may overwhelm our health care system. Nurses and doctors work extreme hours under stressful conditions to care for COVID-19 patents. To prevent overwhelming hospitals, some are putting off surgeries like knee replacements, while Children’s Hospital tells parents not to bring their children to the hospital without calling first. Many hospitals are spending their financial reserves due to the costs of COVID-19 care and a loss of revenue due to the cancelation of surgeries The impact of the coronavirus on our healthcare system is more than just the illness it places a huge emotional and financial burden as well.
The coronavirus has had an impact on all of us, from students having to learn online to neighbors losing their jobs. The virus puts a barricade in the safe road the economy was on bringing the days of normality to a screeching halt. Auto manufacturers are producing ventilators and different health equipment, similar to the way they were producing war machines in World War II. Although this may stop the economy right now, we know that things will go back to normal soon enough.
Zavier’s grandfather works at West Allis Memorial Hospital as an infectious disease specialist. Zavier interviewed him to get more information about the COVID-19 situation from the point of view of someone who works in the health care system.
- What position do you work under at the hospital?
“I am an Infectious disease specialist. I decontaminate the rooms, I take in the spray and clean them out and sometimes I use one of those UV lights. I go around with the nurse to rooms that need to be cleaned.”
- How are things at the hospital? Is there a significant amount of people infected?
“We’ve got plenty of people sick and more coming in every day. I think around 6 died last week and we even had one Mexicana lady who came to visit for her daughter’s wedding before all this happened all the way from Mexico.”
- Do you come in contact with infected patients?
“All the time. I go in and clean all the places that the patients are in. The emergency room and the third and seventh floors are full of patients and that’s where I am most of the time. When a patient dies I take them to the morgue and I wrap them in plastic and then put them in the freezer where the bodies are stored.”
- What steps do you take to stay safe?
“I wear a ventilated full bodysuit with a clear plastic facemask you know like one of those movies? I wear rubber gloves and boots and I gotta make sure there are no gaps in it whenever I start working.”
- How do you think the situation is progressing for better or worse?
“Worse definitely worse. We’ll send maybe 19 people home better and we’ll get another 19 back in the same condition. It’s like more and more are getting sick every day.”
- Are you concerned about possibly getting infected?
“Of course I am but you know somebody’s gotta work. You know there used to be 25 people on our registry but now there’s only 10. The rest are either sick or most of them are too afraid to go into work. Also, you get more for hazard pay, and with the quarantine messing with your grandma’s job we need to make money somehow.”
- What do you think about the stimulus package that was recently passed?
“It’s been what 2 weeks since it passed and I still haven’t seen a check and I doubt I’ll see one anytime soon so as far as I’m concerned I’m gonna keep working like usual. I’m just happy that I’m lucky enough to still be able to work.”
- Lastly what advice do you have for those currently at home experiencing this Pandemic?
Well… I guess all I gotta say is stay home, don’t panic purchase supplies so there’s enough for everyone and wash your hands.
The number of victims in the world with Covid-19 are now over 1.5 million, with over 450,000 in America. America is the country with the most victims, despite having a third of the population of countries like China. The death toll has also raised to about 90,000 in the world, and over 16,000 dead in America. Many hospitals are low on equipment, like masks, and some doctors are even getting infected. They are also strictly focusing on COVID-19 victims, so other surgeries are on hold, which causes a problem for other health cases. Many people are donating, but hospitals are still struggling with equipment.
Meanwhile, Wuhan, China has deactivated the lockdown in the city. Obviously not everything is OK in Wuhan, as restrictions are still placed down, but citizens in Wuhan who are healthy are now able to leave, and people who have passed away are now being able to be buried. It took two and a half months for the lockdown to end, which is twice as long as the lockdown time America is currently on. The simple fact is that there are more cases in America than in China. There are only 81,000 confirmed cases in China compared to America’s 450,000. Realistically, America will have to have a much longer lockdown than Wuhan because of this. Some states like Virginia are even thinking about prolonging the lockdown to June; sadly, that might have to be the requirement for every state. The good thing is the mortality rate in America is relatively low, at about 3.5 percent. Canada and Germany have a mortality rate of 3%, which is also low. However, in countries like Italy, France, and the U.K, the rate is over 10%, which is worrying for citizens in those countries. Considering how fast this virus is spreading throughout the world, it will take multiple months before people can continue to live normally again.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics News release
BofA Securities U.S. Economic Watch Pg.1
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis “Back-of-the-Envelope Estimates of Next Quarter’s Unemployment Rate”
Google, “S&P Total Returns by Year”
Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems, Science and Engineering
Milwaukee Journal Sentenal