'Do it for your big momma': Surgeon general urges communities of colour to stay home moments after admitting their jobs don't enable them to

“You are not helpless, it is even more important in communities of colour we adhere to taskforce guidelines,” Dr Jerome Adams says

Danielle Zoellner
Friday 10 April 2020 20:41
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US Surgeon General Dr Jerome Adams asks communities of colour to stay home to stop the spread of Covid-19
US Surgeon General Dr Jerome Adams asks communities of colour to stay home to stop the spread of Covid-19

The White House coronavirus task force has urged communities of colour to stay home and practice social distancing measures, as data shows the death tolls are higher among Hispanics and blacks in parts of the US.

But this advice came after Surgeon General Dr Jerome Adams admitted those communities were more likely to hold jobs that didn’t allow them to work from home.

“We do not think people of colour are biologically of genetically predisposed to get Covid-19. But they are socially at risk to coronavirus exposure,” Dr Adams said during the press briefing on Friday.

He implored everyone to “do it for your abuela ... your big momma” when it comes to staying at home and following released guidelines. This language Dr Adams used, he said, was in reference to what his own family calls members.

“You are not helpless, it is even more important in communities of colour we adhere to taskforce guidelines,” Dr Adams added.

But it was also revealed that fewer than one in five black Americans hold jobs that allow them to work from home. For Hispanics, about one in six hold jobs that allow them to work from home. These figures come from a report released by the Economic Policy Institute.

Dr Adams said the federal government understood the added strain on communities of colour when dealing with the pandemic, but there were no immediate answers for how officials intended to handle the social and economic problems that are increasing the risk for someone to contract the coronavirus. ‘More details are forthcoming” next week, he added.

In New York City, it was revealed this week 34 per cent of deaths from the novel virus were Hispanic residents while 28 per cent were black. This comes as the New York City population is made up of 29 per cent Hispanic and 22 per cent black residents.

Other cities and states are fairing worse when it comes to the death toll among minority communities.

In Chicago, it was reported about 72 per cent of the death toll has been among blacks even though the community makes up 30 per cent of the city’s population. In Louisiana, 72 per cent of Covid-19 deaths were among black, and they made up about 32 per cent of the state’s population.

Disparities in death toll in minority communities are also found in areas like Milwaukee County, Washington DC, and North Carolina.

Reasons behind minority communities could be experiencing a larger death toll than others, besides work-from-home data, also include African Americans having historically higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease.

Experts have warned a combination of health risks and social structure rooted deep into the US has played a part in creating the disparity for communities of colour to be more at risk than others to contract the novel virus.

“This outbreak is exposing the deep structural inequities that make communities pushed to the margins more vulnerable to health crises in good times and in bad,” Dorianne Mason, the director of health equity at the National Women’s Law Centre, previously said in a statement, The Washington Post reported. “These structural inequities in our health care system do not ignore racial and gender disparities - and neither should our response to this pandemic.”

Dr Adams said these problems could not be fixed "overnight", but the government was working to "move the needle" for communities of colour.

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