COVID-19

In this time of uncertainty, COVID-19 has contaminated everything: Our homes, our lives, how we talk to one another, and even our shared reality.

Here at the IDH, we are working hard to combat disinformation. In an effort to do so, we have a team of students who are dedicated to finding factual information about COVID-19 to keep us all educated and up to date.

Does the COVID-19 crisis excuse our civil liberties?

Julius Hernandez

April 10th, 2020

COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way people are living to start this new decade. Social distancing is becoming a new norm in our culture, and technology is being utilized in so many more ways than intended when we bought it. Specifically our phones. Over the course of the last month multiple news sources, including most recently CNN, have come out with pieces on how our technology is being used to enforce social distancing orders and retrieve data on private citizens. Do you think this is right? We sure as heck don’t.

 

On Thursday, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the state would be hiring private tech firm Descartes to track private citizens' cell phone data and turn it into data that would allow for them to see how well people are practicing social distancing. This would effectively help the state create a personalized plan for their own stay-at-home order and how to best enforce it. New Mexico is the first state to go through with this sort of invasion of privacy, but won’t be the last. Many other state governors are in talks with their governments on if this plan would be effective in their state.

 

The Trump Administration is also in discussions with big tech industries like Facebook and Google about how to use Americans’ cell phone location data to track the spread of COVID-19. Descartes Labs co-founder stated on a live CNN interview on Saturday that he himself even believed that if this technology is not used properly it can be extremely dangerous.

 

COVID-19 has killed upwards of 21,000 people in the United States at this point. Models project that there will be plenty more before this is over, but does this information excuse our rights as citizens? Does the government have the right to track your movements through your phone through a global pandemic? Will it really be effective as they say it will? Do you believe in giving up your right to privacy for the potential to save lives? That is for you to decide. For now we encourage you here at the IDH to stay safe, stay healthy, and be informed.

COVID-19 Pandemic Hits Blacks and Hispanics the Hardest

Julius Hernandez

April 13th, 2020

It is no secret that access to fair and equal healthcare for black and brown Americans in the US is slim to none. Across the nation, COVID-19 is hitting communities of color much harder than most. In Chicago, 72% of all deaths are African Americans, while they only make up 30% of the population. In New York State and the city, where there has been the most cases and deaths of COVID-19, data is showing Hispanics make up 34% of all COVID-19 related deaths while African Americans make up 28% of those deaths as well. Also important to note, Hispanics and Blacks make up 29% and 22% percent of the population, respectively. Mayor Lori Lighfoot of Chicago commented saying “this is a stark reminder of the deep-seated issues which have long created disparate health impacts in communities across Chicago”. Mayor Bill De Blasio of New York simply stated, “It is sick. It is troubling, and it is wrong”.

 

While these are just two examples of locations across the country where communities of color are being hit hardest, many other states are also struggling to combat and keep up with this shocking reality. Louisiana, Michigan, and New Jersey are all particularly getting hit hard in their communities of color as well.

 

These troubling statistics just go to highlight the inequality in resources and access to healthcare that people of color have suffered from for years. These numbers were so alarming, one of President Trump’s coronavirus task force members, Dr. Anthony Fauci brought it up in a white house press briefing this past Tuesday. He stated, “ And the reason I want to bring it up, because I couldn't help sitting there reflecting on how sometimes when you're in the middle of a crisis, like we are now with the coronavirus, it really does ... ultimately, shine a very bright light on some of the real weaknesses and foibles in our society”.

 

Experts all agree that it is the policies of long ago that keep many black and brown Americans in segregated neighborhoods with no job opportunities, stable housing, grocery stores with healthy food, and more. Sharelle Barber, an assistant research professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Drexel University, told The New York Times, “ "These communities, structurally, they're breeding grounds for the transmission of the disease," Barber said. "It's not biological. It's really these existing structural inequalities that are going to shape the racial inequalities in this pandemic”.

 

Is this finally the tipping point for communities of color? Will government officials finally realize the true problems hurting our black and brown Americans? Will you stand up and fight for these people? This article should challenge your thinking. No matter what political party you stand for, no matter how conservative or liberal. No matter black, brown, white, or Asian. Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and stay informed from us here at the IDH.