A reaction to the recent news article “Covid is all about privilege’: Trump’s treatment underscores vast inequalities in access to care

Yesterday, Apple News published an article on the ways in which privilege impacts Covid treatment, particularly showcased by President Trump’s recent hospitalization at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Written by Casey Ross and Priyanka Runwal, the article titled “Covid is all about privilege’: Trump’s treatment underscores vast inequalities in access to care” explores the discrepancies in care for the rich and famous versus the average American. While we all know society’s most powerful influencers receive different treatment, even in cases of life and death, the most important disparities that Ross and Runwal touch on are socioeconomic and racial.

“Covid is all about privilege. The more privilege you have, the more you can ignore some of the rules of Covid. Where one person would need to be in the hospital, another person can have the hospital come to them. That’s privilege,” said Lakshman Swamy, an ICU physician at Cambridge Health Alliance in Massachusetts.

Healthcare access has always been different for minority populations, but the sheer prevalence of coronavirus has dragged healthcare’s darkest statistics into the light. The following is a reaction to the points made in Ross and Runwal’s piece, as well as additional data and research that exposes not just the disproportionate impact of the pandemic along racial divides, but linguistic ones as well.

Much like the rest of his presidency, Twitter has been ablaze over the last few days as President Trump’s diagnosis swept the media. His ability to access care, while thousands died at home or waiting for treatment, was met with harsh criticism.

And privileged access isn’t just about cutting in line to get a bed or the attention of doctors. Privilege means access to treatments that simply aren’t available for anyone else, like the experimental drugs the President received. He’s one of less than 10 people to have been treated with a special antibody cocktail, Ross and Runwal reported.

“High-profile individuals — in particular, professional athletes — have had frequent access to testing with fast-turnaround results. For much of the rest of the population, however, confirming a case of Covid-19 has meant waiting in line for a test, and waiting even longer for results.”

The disparate line is not just drawn between the famous and the average American. Covid-19 has spotlighted healthcare disparities already plaguing our nation. Black, Hispanic, and Native American populations have been disproportionately affected. NPR examined racial disparities by comparing the percentage of deaths versus percentage of population, concluding that “African-American deaths from COVID-19 are nearly two times greater than would be expected based on their share of the population. In four states, the rate is three or more times greater.” (Godoy)


REFERENCES & RESOURCES

Diamond, L., MD, MPH, Izquierdo, K., BS, Canfield, D., MD, Matsoukas, K., MLIS, & Gany, F., MD, MS. (2019). A Systematic Review of the Impact of Patient–Physician Non-English Language Concordance on Quality of Care and Outcomes [Abstract]. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 34, 1591-1606.

Godoy, M. (2020, May 30). What Do Coronavirus Racial Disparities Look Like State By State? NPR. Retrieved October 06, 2020, from npr.org

National CAPACD. (n.d.). The Need for Language Access in COVID-19 Hot Spots. Retrieved October 06, 2020, from https://www.nationalcapacd.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/COVID-19-LEP-by-Language-.pdf

New American Economy. (2019, July 10). Immigrants and the Growth of America’s Largest Cities. Retrieved October 07, 2020, from https://research.newamericaneconomy.org/report/immigrants-and-the-growth-of-americas-largest-cities/

Ross, C., & Runwal, P. (2020, October 6). ‘Covid is all about privilege’: Trump’s treatment underscores vast inequalities in access to care. Apple News. Retrieved October 6, 2020, from https://apple.news/AhfVI4L4hRJaXIX0jWcepsQ