We are all in this together is a refrain I have heard many times over the past few weeks- from fellow parents attempting to balance work with homeschooling and childcare responsibilities, to friends sharing tales of bad home haircuts and tips on where to find toilet paper, to the media covering stories of human and economic devastation worldwide. The pandemic has affected all of us in different ways and will continue to do so for a while. Nobody is immune to loss right now, but many of us are in a better position to stay physically and emotionally healthy and economically sound than others. Societal norms and longstanding policies that have benefited some and disadvantaged so many others have led us to a place where some of our neighbors are more vulnerable to the worst health and economic outcomes of this pandemic.
This is true even in MetroWest where we have access to some of the best healthcare institutions in the world, as well as thoughtful government and nonprofit leaders working tirelessly to ensure all those in our community can meet their basic needs, obtain needed medical care and safely quarantine if necessary. Despite all the things the region is doing right, inequities are inevitable. Even if everything was done right at all levels from the federal government down to local government and nonprofits, it could not overcome decades of Institutional racism, under-investment in housing and homeless services, the lack of living wages and health benefits for thousands of workers, and immigration policies that have resulted in a culture of fear and disenfranchisement for many.
These layers of policy decisions have left too many in our region at greater risk for the worst medical and economic consequences of COVID-19. The way the virus is causing harm is connected as the economy will not begin to recover until the spread of the disease is controlled, yet many must make the difficult choice between working to put food on the table and staying home to limit exposure.
The COVID-19 crisis did not cause inequities but, as with any crisis, it magnifies them. If we truly are all in this together, we need to acknowledge these inequities and take action to address them.
More to come on this topic in the coming weeks.