The Pandemic Isn't Distributed Evenly

Viral Inequality
Illustration from Radio Open Source/Creative CommonsIllustration from Radio Open Source/Creative Commons
Radio Open Source
April 9, 2020

The curve of the coronavirus is bending. Just in the awful American swath of the grim COVID reaper, we have entered peak season with some flattening of the rising case count and the deaths. Social distancing works. The grim lesson in the fog of numbers is that this merciless bug is not a great equalizer on the ground—quite the opposite. Unfairness is the mark of this killer. New York, city and state, are taking nearly half of all the US casualties. COVID aims at the poor, old, and already infirm. And in Chicago, Milwaukee, and the state of Louisiana, African Americans are getting double their share of death by COVID. It’s unfair in politics, too: it vindicated Bernie Sanders’ case for universal healthcare; at the same time, it smothered the Sanders campaign in panic.

Racism is the underlying condition in our country that leaps out of the mountain of new coronavirus numbers. There is some merciful news, too, in the first slowing of confirmed cases. Deaths now approaching 15,000 in the US could come in far below the White House estimate that as many as 250,000 people could die in the pandemic. Meantime, we’re noticing that this blind and brainless bug has an acute sensitivity to social standing in America—to our race and class lines, our work habits and age brackets, as if it read us like a book. We look also this hour at the odd and ironic juncture of the end of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign and the onset of the COVID crisis.

LISTEN to the program at Radio Open Source

Guest List

Dr. Camara Jones
Radcliffe Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

Mike Davis
Author of Planet of Slums and City of Quartz.

Matt Stoller
Author of Goliath.

Cornel West
Philosopher and social critic.

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