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Disregarding restrictions is harmful to vulnerable groups.

COVID-19 data has shown that different races are at varying degrees of risks of death from the virus. Black Americans are at a risk of dying from COVID-19 that’s 3.5 times higher than white Americans. Hispanic and Black Americans are twice as likely to test positive compared to non-Hispanic White individuals.

With other countries opening up due to consistently low numbers of cases, many Americans have grown unsympathetic toward COVID-19 restrictions, and white people are least likely to wear masks, according to a study from the University of Southern California Forty-six percent of white people wear a mask “while in close contact with people from other households” compared to 67% of Black people, according to the study.

Most anti-mask protests have had an overwhelming number of white participants, which matches the USC study. It’s no surprise that systemic racism has even reached COVID-19, and white anti-maskers are examples of white privilege being displayed.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that COVID-19 “was the third leading cause of death in the U.S.” in 2020. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director, said during a White House COVID-19 Response team briefing last week that deaths related to COVID-19 were higher among minority groups than white Americans. Again, the overall death rates were highest among Black people, as well as Native American people.

COVID-19 has also resulted in an increase of renters being at risk for eviction. Historically, Black and Hispanic women with families are at a higher risk of facing eviction, according to the MacArthur Foundation, and the pandemic has reinforced that narrative. Eviction's also associated with adults who have poor health, according to Health Affairs. The pandemic has obviously taken a toll on Americans’ health, and those already living with health conditions are at a higher risk of dying from COVID-19. 

Being evicted could increase the risk of getting COVID-19, as it commonly leads to overcrowding in other households and homelessness, according to Clark Merrefield’s Eviction: The physical, financial and mental health consequences of losing your home. As mentioned before, Black and Hispanic women with families are at a higher risk of being evicted, and Black people are at the highest risk of dying from the virus. 

When the pandemic first began, Black Americans had a rate of 16.7% of unemployment compared to 14.2% of white Americans, according to NewsOne. Now, although the rate is lower, Black Americans have a rate of 10.2% and white Americans have a rate of 5.2% — half of the rate for Black Americans. Additionally, 4.28 million Black Americans are unemployed out of the 41.99 million Black people in the country. While this number improved from the 7.01 million unemployed in the spring of 2020, it’s still a large number, especially when compared to the total Black population in the United States.

With the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the number of cases is going down in the U.S. According to NewsOne, white individuals are 2.2 times more likely to be vaccinated. Only 1.14% of Black Americans are being vaccinated compared to 2.5% of white individuals. While some Americans are hesitant about receiving the vaccine, Black Americans may not have access to the same resources.

It’s extremely frustrating to see the Black community being disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and as someone who’s followed COVID-19 restrictions, I hope that my efforts have helped to keep others safe. 

As Americans, we need to stand together and refuse selfish ideals like being an anti-masker or anti-vaxxer and help protect the citizens of our country. Hopefully, as more and more people get vaccinated, we can slowly get back to the way things were before the pandemic.

Julia Cheng is a freshman media arts and design major. Contact Julia at chengjm@dukes.jmu.edu.