Coronavirus Chronicles — Ethnic Implications Again

Many medical professionals use social media to communicate with the world, especially with their colleagues in other countries, and with ordinary citizens, too. Dr. Jagadish J. Hiremath, who lives and practices in India, wrote:

Social distancing is a privilege. It means you live in a house large enough to practise it. Hand washing is a privilege too. It means you have access to running water. Hand sanitisers are a privilege. It means you have money to buy them.

Lockdowns are a privilege. It means you can afford to be at home. Most of the ways to ward off Corona are accessible only to the affluent.

The United States is no different. About a year ago, Margaret Flowers wrote,

Cities across the country are beginning to recognize that racism is a public health issue. On top of that, social determinants such as wealth inequality, access to housing and education and discrimination in the workplace, as well as other factors, also impact health…

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed this disparity in a stark way — black people are being infected at higher rates, are experiencing more severe disease and are more likely to die of COVID-19 than white people. This is a systemic problem, not a biological one.

The existence of the virus has changed the entire landscape of societal relationships, casting a bright light on some areas that have been under-illuminated.

Just a few months earlier, in mid-June, a kneeling and chanting demonstration was held in Boise, Idaho by hundreds of demonstrators (described by the press as mostly masked), whose talking point was that racism itself represents a public health crisis. Medical student Devin Gaskins gave a talk that included the line, “My pre-existing condition was being born Black in America.”

Also last fall, in Mississippi, the virus struck about one-tenth of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, which had only around 10,000 members to begin with. There were more than 80 fatalities. The tribal membership accounts for only 18% of the residents in their county, over half the county’s virus cases have occurred among its members, along with 64% of the COVID deaths.

The lost people were of course primarily relatives and friends, but they were also vital components of the tribe’s collective memory, who had preserved arts and crafts, stories, and the ancient language. Additionally, Mark Walker wrote for The New York Times,

The Navajo Nation, the country’s largest reservation, has recorded at least 560 deaths — a tally larger than the coronavirus-related deaths in 13 states and a death rate higher than every state… In Arizona, Native Americans account for 11 percent of the virus-related deaths despite making up 5 percent of the population. And in Wyoming, Native Americans have accounted for nearly 30 percent of the coronavirus deaths.

According to the Indian Health Service, its ability to help and care for the 2.2 million people who make up the country’s tribal population has been constantly hindered by the lack of modern facilities, beds and equipment, supplies, and medical personnel.

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “@Kaalateetham,”, 03/23/20
Source: “Let’s Talk about Racism and Health,”, 09/26/20
Source: “Health care workers rally against anti-blackness at Idaho capitol,”, 06/20/20
Source: “‘A Devastating Blow’: Virus Kills 81 Members of Native American Tribe,”, 10/08/20
Image by Marcel Oosterwijk/CC BY-SA 2.0

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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