How the Protests Have Changed the Pandemic

Two weeks ago, the global coronavirus pandemic and America’s struggle with racist policing looked like separate crises. But there can be no doubt that the overlap between these two crises has been exposed—and, from now on, they will be intertwined. If the protests do cause a surge in infections, it will likely be centered in the very communities that are now demanding that their lives be valued equally by the state. Protesters have taken to the streets to demonstrate against police brutality specifically, but Floyd’s death also serves as a microcosm of the many toxic forces that are creating undue suffering for black and minority Americans. Since the pandemic began, each week has revealed more about how the workplaces, schools, neighborhoods, houses, and hospitals in their communities place them at greater risk for death and disease. And yet the urgency with which we’ve striven to mitigate the pandemic’s social and economic damage—to reopen salons, to restart schools, to hold sporting events, to dine in restaurants, to soothe investors, to support businesses—has not inspired a similar societal commitment to reduce our gaping health disparities.