Everything They Don’t Like Is Now a Public Health Emergency
Last summer, infectious disease experts at the University of Washington wrote what they called an “[o]pen letter advocating for an anti-racist public health response to demonstrations against systemic injustice occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic.” It is essentially a letter explaining that white supremacy is a public health issue, especially in light of covid-19. The letter was signed by 1,288 “public health professionals, infectious diseases professionals, and community stakeholders.”
Here are some passages from the letter (emphases added), followed by my analysis of each:
White supremacy is a lethal public health issue that predates and contributes to COVID-19.
As public health advocates, we do not condemn [demonstrations that call attention to the pervasive lethal force of white supremacy] as risky for COVID-19 transmission.
This should not be confused with a permissive stance on all gatherings, particularly protests against stay-home orders. Those actions not only oppose public health interventions, but are also rooted in white nationalism and run contrary to respect for Black lives. Protests against systemic racism, which fosters the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on Black communities and also perpetuates police violence, must be supported.
Therefore, we propose the following guidance to support public health:
- Do not disband protests under the guise of maintaining public health for COVID-19 restrictions.
- Advocate that protesters not be arrested or held in confined spaces, including jails or police vans, which are some of the highest-risk areas for COVID-19 transmission.
- Listen, and prioritize the needs of Black p
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