The United States’ wealth disparity leads to a disproportionately vulnerable population
While President Trump’s handling of COVID-19 has been under scrupulous critique, it seems the USA was set up for severe damages due to the country’s profound wealth disparity. A large portion of the population has significantly limited access to healthcare, and is therefore in amplified danger of infection.
According to USA Today, the United States is one of the top fifteen countries with the most profound wealth disparity in the world. While the economy might seem comparatively robust, the country’s prosperity is not evenly distributed across the population. Now, in the midst of the life-threatening coronavirus, the United States is facing economic crisis akin to the Great Depression, according to ABC News. Oddly, while about 45 million people have filed for unemployment, the richest in the country have actually seen a wealth surge because they are so directly linked to the stock market which saw a fall and then climbed back up. Experts like Chuck Collins, director of the Institute for Policy Studies, believe that the precursor for such a pervasive virus is the economic inequality that already existed. The very people who are our essential workers are the ones who are more likely to be exposed to the virus without a choice, and have lesser access to healthcare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data demonstrates that black and latinx people are hospitalized for COVID-19 4.5 times more frequently than other populations. It is no surprise that most of the country’s essential workers are black and latinx people. Voa News explains why poverty is practically a preexisting health condition for COVID-19. Impoverished communities have limited access to hospital care, often live in “multigenerational households” where older at-risk people are exposed to younger people, and often do not have access to basic necessities like wealthier communities do, such as clean water and steady nutrition. According to Human Rights Watch, there are no financial savings to fall back on and so poorer communities need to continue working just to survive, even in a pandemic. In a country designed to foster wealth, a one-time stimulus check might assist the privileged but has little sustainability for a lower-income family. The United States is ripe ground for COVID-19 as a significant portion of the population has been fiscally forgotten.
The already prevalent wealth disparity in the United States does not excuse President Trump from responsibility. In fact, according to Dissent Magazine, 2018 saw the deepest wealth gap since 1967. Dissent believes one of the myriad ways President Trump contributes to this inequality is by silencing unions and doubling down on workers’ strikes demanding livable wages. The infamous 2017 tax cut needed to “generate a 6.7 percent increase in gross domestic product” and unfortunately made it a meager 0.3 percent. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, poverty is not the only factor at play, putting a high number of Americans at risk. Racism and xenophobia, which are prevalent in the United States, interact with limited financial resources to create a dangerous environment for citizens even when there is not a pandemic. The Trump administration has created such obstacles for marginalized populations to overcome, building on the already established inequality. Edith Bracho-Sanchez, a pediatrician at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, notes that so many of her patients are already overwhelmed with stress, managing a long and complex immigration system, and finding a way to make a living wage. Philip Alberti, PhD, explains that prolonged stress causes significant health complications. He already saw these effects in marginalized populations, but COVID-19 has provided a new ground for ignorance, xenophobic behavior, and racism, which President Trump is doing little to ease. Very recently, President Trump called COVID-19 the “kung flu” at his Tulsa rally. If the economic disparity in the United States is one of the leading factor of COVID-19 fatalities, Pewre Research studies claim that only about 54% of the population would say President Trump is doing a poor to fair job of protecting lower income families. Far less think Trump is actually delivering useful information to the population, most of his discourse leading people astray. Almost two-thirds of the country believe his reaction to the pandemic was far “too slow” and that the United States lost valuable time in preparing their imbalanced nation for what lies ahead. While economic disparity is one of the dangers the United States faces during this pandemic, improper leadership and pervasive xenophobia and racism create a lethal environment for the virus to prosper.
Rejecting the premises