Joan Fitzgerald on Planetizan: Viral Inequality and Climate Justice
by Joan Fitzgerald
Several cities have modeled an economic recovery that centers environmental justice. Political will is necessary to ensure a safer and healthier future for all communities.
Evidence is accumulating that both incidence and death rates from Covid-19 are higher in low-income areas and communities of color. Blacks and Latinos are being hit with a double whammy in the Covid-19 pandemic. They are more likely to be in low-income jobs that leave them exposed to the virus—delivering groceries and packages, stocking warehouses, preparing catered snacks for airlines, working in unsafe packinghouses, providing care for the elderly, etc.
Because they live in neighborhoods that tend to be highly polluted, Blacks and Latinos are more susceptible to asthma and related conditions that leave them more vulnerable to the virus In New York City, for example, the Bronx has considerably more cases than the other boroughs, concentrated in predominantly Black and Latino areas that also have the highest rates of pollution and asthma.
We need to make sure that the factors that created this disparity are addressed in a post-Covid recovery. The strategies need to address not just the perils of low-wage work, but the high-pollution environments where so many low-income people live. And several cities are showing what can be done.