Inequality plays unacknowledged role in US virus outbreak

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/6 22:22:36

Few people are seen on a street in New York City, US, on March 19. Photo: Xinhua

The spread of the coronavirus in the US has become a disaster and a tragedy for urban and rural low-income groups. Income inequality and the unbalanced distribution of health system resources could increase the damage of the coronavirus' spread in the US and affect the lives of many people. The Trump administration should pay more attention to the poor with new cases of the coronavirus rapidly increasing in the country.

In Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, 81 percent of the deaths so far have been black people, although black people make up only 26 percent of that county, the New York Times said. It will still take time to calculate how many of those victims lived in households with incomes below the federal poverty line, but many believe low-income groups are being disproportionately affected by the coronavirus in devastating ways.

Income inequality is on the rise in the US. More than 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment in the week ended on March 28. Once unemployed, low-income Americans have no savings to fall back on, and thus have to go out and find new jobs. The best way to protect people from the coronavirus is to stay indoors and avoid contact with other people, but financial stress makes this difficult for the poor. This choice is far more accessible for middle-class and affluent people who have the option to work from home.

Low-income groups are likely being infected at higher rates. What's more, the disease is linked to a greater risk of death among low-income patients, because of the unbalanced distribution of medical resources. China has spent an average of 17,000 yuan ($2,400) on each coronavirus patient. Drugs always cost more for patients living in the US than in China. As the number of confirmed cases continues to grow in the US, the poor may be unable to obtain essential health services.

The number of people killed by the coronavirus in the US neared 10,000 on Monday. Why has the epidemic spread so rapidly in the US and led to a huge spike in deaths? Income inequality may be one reason behind the increased figures. A wide income gap between the rich and the poor has been a chronic illness of the US economy. Now, the chronic illness is being exposed by the coronavirus outbreak.

The next two weeks will be crucial in the fight against the deadly virus in the US. But unfortunately, US authorities have not yet done enough to protect the poor from the coronavirus. It seems Americans are unaware of the role of income inequality played in the coronavirus outbreak. A wide income gap could cause serious consequences not only for the US economy but also its national destiny.

Posted in: GT VOICE

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