By: JT Shatzer
Since March, the pandemic became a struggle that has effectively impacted every facet of life for people around the world; quarantining has been an essential practice for safety and recovery. However, many people do not have the luxury to distance themselves from the rest of the world. Many Americans rely on income from multiple jobs to help support their family. With layoffs in the workforce being the highest they have been since the great depression, the pandemic has completely taken over the lives of all people. As it happens routinely in America, the financial status one finds themselves in seems to dictate the quality of life they are able to have.
Low-income families find themselves at a much higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they contract the Covid-19 virus. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), adults who make 15,000 dollars or less annually have a 35% chance of becoming seriously ill if they contract the virus. When compared to those who make 50,000 dollars or more, the rate is merely 16%. Glenelg Senior, Matthew Pysh, spoke on the unfairness of the medical care system of the United States as he explains, “It’s kind of ridiculous that some people have an opportunity to either stay completely healthy or have access to all the medical attention they may need when others are suffering. It’s not like anyone doesn’t deserve medical care. We are all human.” The fact of the matter is that if Covid-19 reaches someone, their ability to recover is often determined by the medical care they have access to. If one lacks finances, that necessary care could be completely out of the window of opportunity.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced a lot of families to make the tough decision of choosing whether to put the safety of themselves and their children at risk by continuing work or putting food on the table. When faced with a dilemma that determines eating during dinner time or possibly getting sick, it is clear that most would choose the prospect of feeding their family. Glenelg Senior, Liam Hayden, commented on the unfair nature of the virus as he explains, “I feel blessed enough to say that my family has had the resources to put food on the table throughout the pandemic. To help those less fortunate, we took the time to do some food drives at my church. The virus in itself is a struggle, but honestly, I think a lot of people at Glenelg don’t realize just how easy they have had it.” The importance of standing with one another and helping your fellow neighbor during this pandemic is crucial.
Not only do low-income workers have a higher risk of contracting Covid-19, but they also are at higher risk for loss of income altogether. Despite only making a small amount to begin with, the majority of low wage workers have lost a significant amount of income during this pandemic. According to the KFF, almost 80% of low wage workers are paid hourly, meaning that if their hours are scaled back, the amount of money they are able to obtain is scaled back as well. Glenelg Senior, Stephen DeSantis, who works at a local grocery store explains the pandemic’s impact on his work schedule as he states, “I went from working 25 hours a week to working 5 hours a week in a blink of an eye. Luckily I don’t have to support a family or anything, but I can’t imagine what it’s like for those who do.” Families who find themselves to be financially stable have been able to stay afloat during this pandemic, as their salary is a predetermined number regardless. That is unfortunately not the case for the majority of American people.
The homeless community has been rocked by this pandemic almost more than anyone else. For the longest time now, it is almost as if the government of the United States has just written off the lives of homeless people as they show little sympathy and provide minimal care for those who find themselves in a dire situation already. According to Modern Healthcare, researchers warned that over 2,000 homeless people could eventually die from Covid-19. Glenelg Senior, Meghan Goodman volunteers at homeless shelters within the Baltimore area and explains, “None of these people have masks, clean water, or anything. The homeless population looks more defeated than ever, and the country as a whole needs to do something about it.” Those who find themselves more at risk ironically find themselves to be the ones who do not have access to the necessary medical care.
Howard County, especially the Glenelg community, could be viewed as a “bubble” from a lot of the issues that much of society face on a daily basis. In comparison to the poverty rate of the United States, which is 10.5%, the poverty rate in Howard County sits at less than half of that at 5.2%. When people are surrounded by those similar to them, it is easy for one to lack perspective on the world as a whole. It is important to both understand and act upon the notion that people live under different circumstances than one another, and helping those who are struggling should be part of the responsibility of those who are not.