Covid-19 may be remembered as the disease that divided us.

The pandemic is affecting some groups more than others, stirring up a toxic mix of fear, resentment and schadenfreude. 

Coronavirus has become a lightning rod for bullying of Chinese people in the U.S., as racial slurs like “Kung Flu” make the rounds on Twitter. The deadly outbreak has escalated the tension between generations, as some young people not-so-jokingly referred to the deadly virus as “#BoomerRemover” because it is most deadly in older people—with the not-so-surprising baby boomer backlash against college students who continued to “#CoronaParty” on spring break as other people died. And as more white-collar workers are able to keep their jobs and work from home, the growing ranks of unemployed, uninsured hourly workers are finding fresh outrages in the potentially fatal gap between haves and have nots.

“The virus is not doing the dividing,” said Jason Beckfield, chair of the sociology department at Harvard University. “The dividing is a function of what people are choosing to do with the virus. People are able to shift blame away from themselves or shift blame onto people they dislike.”

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