Black Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans face significantly higher rates of hospitalization and death from COVID-19, according to the CDC. (Photo illustration by Abril Rodriguez Diaz)
Orange County School of the Arts

Opinion: The privilege behind a refusal to practice social distancing

Although the curve is finally flattening, COVID-19 cases in California are still rising after governor Gavin Newsom ordered a statewide reclosure back in July. As California nears six months of quarantine regulations, the temptation of breaking social distancing seems to be too great for many teens. More and more photos of parties and large gatherings are popping up all over social media, and unfortunately, those who act irresponsibly are not the ones that suffer the most.

In northwestern Oregon, Dr. Eva Galvez noticed an alarming disparity in the patients that came into her clinic for testing. Latinos were 20 times more likely to have the virus, according to The New York Times.

According to the CDC, Black Americans, Latinos, and Native American face significantly higher rates of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 than other races in the United States. According to epidemiologists, these disparities are largely attributed to inadequate living and working conditions, which tend to be occupied by minorities. 

For example, the CDC reports that racial minorities tend to live in densely populated areas, and may lack amenities such as safe transportation, medical facilities and grocery stores. 

Additionally, minorities are more likely to be forced into situations that further expose them to the virus. For example, people of color are likely to occupy a lower-paying, less-stable job, which means that taking time away from work is difficult and that work conditions are more likely to be unfavorable. According to The New York Times, many minorities have low-paying jobs that require them to work through the pandemic and interact with the public. 

Lastly, racial minorities are less likely to be insured or may face other financial or geographic barriers — like proximity to good hospitals — when it comes to receiving medical care, according to The New York Times. The New York Times also states that many lack access to healthcare.

Overall, disparate social and physical conditions of minority groups worsen both the risks and effects of getting sick. As cases increase statewide, disparities in contagion rates, hospitalizations and deaths amongst racial groups continue to widen, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Evidently, Californians who refuse to adhere to quarantine guidelines are not concerned about incurring the negative effects of the virus. Those who prioritize parties over health are clearly not afraid to get sick.

Disregarding statewide regulations is not only irresponsible, but it’s also selfish, seeing as other Americans may be heavily impacted.

Empathy is necessary now more than ever. Americans must be aware of the outward effects of our actions. In order to keep all residents safe, we must keep following social distancing rules and fight back against COVID-19, one day at a time.