Let the Pandemic Be a Wake-Up Call — and Take Control of Your Health
Covid-19 looks to be deadliest for Black men, but the habits we adopt today can last a lifetime
“It’s bad over there, huh?” my father asked on the phone. He was outside Washington, D.C.; I was in Berkeley, California. The Bay Area had just announced its shelter-in-place orders hours earlier, and I was rushing around for provisions to make it through the lockdown when he called.
Even though it was March 16 — earlier than anywhere else in the country taking such precautions — the novel coronavirus had been on my radar for a few months. As a reporter covering technology, health, and science for Level’s sibling publications, I’d been keeping up on the outbreak and lockdowns in China and the spread of the virus to the West Coast. I’d even been working from home for a little over a week, as were many of my coworkers, in order to protect myself.
But much of the country hadn’t yet realized how Covid-19 might affect folks in the U.S., including my dad. He was worried about whether I was actually going to stay inside. And I was even more worried about whether he was going to stay inside.
He’s 76 years old, has been smoking most of his adult life, and has survived cancer and a stroke. He’s also been a car salesman for more than 30 years, so his day-to-day life is built around shaking hands, talking to people at close range, and sharing confined spaces with strangers during test drives. From his age to his habits to his health to his job, his life is full of factors I knew would put him at greater risk for catching the virus — and a far greater risk of dying from it.
“Are you going to stop going to work?” I asked him. He hesitated, then said his manager had told him he should go home if he wanted. But then he said he’d be fine, that he needed to work to make money.
Make no mistake: Black and Brown men aren’t responsible for the pandemic. Not for the inaction and policy failures that allowed Covid-19 to take root…