COVID-19 reveals stigmatization and discrimination

“We have not learned our lessons from earlier generations.” This conclusion of the article from IJSQ on the treatment of Mary Mellon (“Typhoid Mary”) in the early 20th century is repeated on the website of Florida International University by Bill Darrow, co-author of the article with Amani Othman, also of FIU.

Darrow compares current headlines with what Othman and he have seen in their study predating the Corona / COVID-19 crisis: higher morbidity and mortality rates due to infections with the novel coronavirus among African Americans, Latinos and Latinas, and other vulnerable minorities, along with stigmatizing of the same groups. Bill Darrow quotes newspaper headlines like “Spit On, Yelled At, Attacked: Chinese-Americans Fear for Their Safety,” “Black Miamians dying at a greater rate than whites,” and “There’s Something About a Typhoid Mary.”

As Darrow notes: “As evidence about COVID-19 and how the etiologic agent spreads is revealed, we continue to discern patterns predicted by our knowledge of the past.” And: “Social determinants are just as relevant in understanding the distributions of disease, disability and death in a community as the epidemiologic triad of person (hosts and susceptibles), place (physical environments), and pathogen (germs, as COVID-19).”

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