by Michael P Coleman
COVID Convos is a series of original columns conceptualized to give you something else to think about as we manage the coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully, they will provide you with a different perspective about an issue related to the crisis… or a brief smile. Remember, with COVID-19: this too shall pass.
When faced with any battle, it is comforting to know that someone is on the inside, in the trenches, who has the knowledge, tools, temperament, and abilities that are required to get the job done and lead an army to victory.
In our fight against the novel coronavirus, we have that person in Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, California’s first Surgeon General.
En route to a recent briefing with the governor, Burke Harris checked in to set the record straight on a number of pernicious COVID-19-related myths. During our wide-ranging interview, she also stressed the need to heed recommendations and guidelines from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention so that we can, ultimately, put coronavirus behind us.
“I will always be very transparent about what we know and what we don’t know,” Burke Harris assured. “We don’t have a lot of great data about the racial and ethnic breakdowns of infections and deaths related to COVID-19, but what we’re seeing in a few areas around the country is that African Americans are over represented in COVID-19 cases.”
“One of the worst legacies of our health care establishment’s history of inhumane treatment of African Americans is the persistent mistrust and doubt that [it] has created,” Burke Harris continued. “We worry that the lack of trust within the African American community may be putting the black community at greater risk. When people of color hear about current guidelines, much of their mistrust is rooted in the history of what has happened in this nation. It’s a history that we have to work very hard to repair.”
“At the same time, it’s very, very important for black communities, and communities of color in general, to be aware that this is not a hoax. There has been a myth circulating that black people don’t get coronavirus. That myth is totally false! If Idris Elba is not enough to convince folks that black people get coronavirus…we do! So stay home, and practice strict social distancing. It’s up to us to care for our communities by staying connected, but staying home.”
When Burke Harris gets fired up, it is easy to see how she has been so successful in transforming the lives of the individuals and families in her care. And she is as passionate about wearing face coverings as she is about social distancing — and following all of the CDC’s coronavirus guidelines.