History and statistics show us that many diseases are more prevalent and deadly in racial and ethnic minorities. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has proven to be no different.
As of June 12, 2020, hospitalization rates from COVID-19 are highest among the American Indian (Alaska Natives), African American, and Hispanic/Latino communities.
In Sandy Springs alone, 41% of our population is non-white, while our public schools are 73% non-white. This means that many of our citizens and students are among those who are at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19.
So what do we do about this? Well, one of the easiest ways to slow the spread of this deadly disease is by simply wearing a face covering, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), which is headquartered right here in Atlanta.
The CDC recommends that all persons wear cloth face coverings when in public settings and when around anyone who does not live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
So, why does the CDC recommend cloth face coverings?
For starters, the use of them may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. Not only that but if widely used by the public, face masks are proven to be the most effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We should note, however, that the CDC does not recommend that cloth face coverings be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
So, where do things stand right now?
To this point, Gov. Brian Kemp has not authorized a statewide mask mandate. And unfortunately, somehow the wearing of a mask has become a political debate instead of a health concern.
The Mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, who herself has contracted COVID-19, has signed an executive order that mandates masks for all Atlantans. However, Kemp states his powers as Governor supersede her, meaning his statewide guidance has authority.
And, as we approach the beginning of the school year for many of our children, the debate over school reopenings is the latest to take on the mask debate. Parents and teachers are worried about the future, as some parents are claiming their kids won’t be wearing masks — in the classroom or not.
A group of Fulton County school parents even held a Mask Rally last week, which resulted in a petition being sent to the School Board to convince them to mandate masks. This was all being done so that parents can trust that their kids are being sent into a safe environment.
And, it worked! People stood together, raised their voices and change happened. This is why it’s so important that we come together as a community to demand better.
It’s a FACT that mass mask-wearing would help to not only curb the spread of COVID-19, but would also combat the racial divide that COVID-19 presents, especially if schools are to open. But unfortunately, it seems that even mask-wearing has further divided our city of Sandy Springs.
So, where do you stand? And what are you willing to do about it?