LEVEL Best Man 2020

A Year of Darkness for Black Doctors and Nurses Fighting to Save Covid Patients

Black health care workers watch the pandemic continue to take a disproportionate toll on people who look just like them

Aliya S. King
LEVEL
Published in
7 min readDec 7, 2020

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The title, “The Medical Maestros on the Covid-19 Frontlines” alongside several profile photos of Black doctors and nurses.

Update 6/7/22: Level has a new home. You can read this article and other new articles by visiting LEVELMAN.com.

In March, when Dr. Kameno Bell saw a patient come out of an ambulance and into his emergency room, he did a double take because the man looked so much like him. Black man, same build, about the same age as Dr. Bell — and all he could manage to say was that he couldn’t breathe. An emergency room doctor solves mysteries every single shift, so Bell looked the man over, noted no immediate signs of injury, and got ready to figure it out.

Before he could wash his hands, the man was dead.

“Listen,” Bell says now. “I work in an emergency room, we see death. I know how to manage it. But this man? I was looking at myself. And I couldn’t believe how fast it happened. That could have been me.”

That was the moment Bell started searching for PPE and suiting up properly. Nine months later, like so many other Black doctors and nurses on the frontlines, he’s still…

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Aliya S. King
LEVEL
Writer for

Aliya S. King is an author, freelance writer and editor.