USA: Capitalism & Racism + Covid-19 = Murder

12 April 2020 — Internationalist 360°

Stephen Millies

Nurses at Harlem Hospital protest, April 6.

April 11 — The Covid-19 pandemic is devastating New York City. Eighty refrigerator trucks are serving as mobile morgues to store the bodies. As of April 10, 92,384 people have been infected.

Inmates in the Rikers Island prison are being offered $6 per hour to dig mass graves on Hart’s Island off the Bronx. That’s the site of Potter’s Field, where a million people too poor to afford a funeral had their bodies dumped.

What’s happening in New York City is being repeated in Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans and Los Angeles. The coronavirus is ripping through the South with Black people suffering the most. About one in ten deaths has occurred in the adjoining states of Louisiana, Mississippi. Alabama and Georgia.

The Pentagon is seeking 100,000 body bags. The government’s stockpile of personal protective equipment ― a life and death matter for health care workers ― is almost depleted. But the Immigration and Customs Enforcement gestapo conducting deportation raids are guaranteed N95 face masks.

A hundred racist attacks against Asian Americans are occurring every day. Trump incited these attacks by calling the coronavirus “the Chinese virus.” We should call it the Trump virus.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has taken advantage of the pandemic to roll back bail reform and ram through Medicaid cuts in the state’s budget.

Cuomo calls the virus “the great equalizer.” That isn’t true even if his own brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo, caught it. It’s certainly false with the city’s wealthy and powerful fleeing to the countryside.

There’s nothing equal about this pandemic

The coronavirus has been much worse for New York City’s Black and Latinx communities. Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn have been hard hit.

This writer lives two blocks from the Corona, Queens, N.Y., neighborhood where Louis Armstrong lived. Its 11368 ZIP code had 2,248 cases of the coronavirus as of April 10, the most of any in New York City.

Experts say New York City has been hardest hit because of its density. Nearly 9 million people live on about 300 square miles of land.

Corona, Queens, is crowded with 41,768 people living per square mile. Two percent ― have been infected.

Murray Hill ― ZIP code 10017 ― on midtown Manhattan’s East Side is even more crowded, with 51,775 people per square mile. Yet the neighborhood’s infection is just a quarter of Corona’s.

The difference is that while Corona’s median household income is $45,964, the figure for Murray Hill is $100,652, over twice as high.

Adjoining Corona in Queens is Elmhurst (ZIP code 11373) with 1,737 cases and Jackson Heights (ZIP code 11372) with 1,322 people infected. The Elmhurst Medical Center is being overwhelmed. (Figures for the different zip codes are updated every few hours at

All these neighborhoods are immigrant communities with many service and construction workers who had to continue going to their jobs while the pandemic was gripping the city.

Black and Latinx neighborhoods in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan have also been hard hit. The eastern Far Rockways in Queens, home to four largely Black housing projects, have 993 cases.

The capitalist government is covering up the impact on Asian, Black, Indigenous and Latinx communities. Maryland lawmakers are demanding a breakdown of those who’ve caught the virus.

Social distancing an impossibility

Medical experts recommend that people keep a “social distance” of six feet from each other. How are the 2.2 million prisoners locked up supposed to follow that advice? Cook County Jail in Illinois already has 289 prisoners with the virus.

For thousands of prisoners across the country, the coronavirus will be a death sentence. Activists like those in the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression are fighting to free the most vulnerable prisoners.

The hundreds of thousands in homeless shelters are also not able to keep six feet from each other.

Social distancing is also impossible for the hospital and other “essential” workers taking overcrowded buses and subways in New York City. Fifty members of Transit Workers Union Local 100 have died of the coronavirus.

Many essential workers who are risking their lives are among the lowest paid. The 3.6 million cashiers have an average annual income of just $22,430.

Experts are recommending that trips to the food store be limited to once every two weeks. How many working-class families can do that? Not the ten million workers who have already been fired.

Density and lack of social distancing won’t account for all the deaths. We’re told to wash our hands, yet 141,000 Detroit families have had their water shut off since 2014. Service hasn’t been restored for thousands.

It’s worse on the Indigenous reservations. Forty percent of Navajo nation households aren’t connected to a water pipe. They have to haul water to their home.

Overcrowded housing has skyrocketed because of rising rent. Many families are forced to move in with relatives.

Between 1980 and 2010, the number of these doubled-up families increased almost four-fold, 1.15 million to 4.3 million. (2012 U.S. Statistical Abstract, Table 59). Social distancing is impossible for them.

Millions of housing units are kept off the market to keep the rent high. A people’s movement is needed to seize them.

Homeless families in Los Angeles have taken over over 12 empty homes. We need to follow their example.

One thought on “USA: Capitalism & Racism + Covid-19 = Murder

  1. tamarque says:

    This episode based on an assault on health must be seen as a form of genocide.

    The entire political tendency of the ruling elite has been to eliminate many of the poor and people

    of color in the world. The medical care in the US is close to worthless and many medical people know this. A few of them are beginning to speak out calling for a reality check on exactly what is being seen in the hospitals. One ICU doctor spoke out and was forced to leave ICU and put in the ER however his video went viral. Another doctor heard on interview confirmed this ICU/ER doctor’s evaluation and called for use of non-traditional treatments and giving up the medical dogma that so many follow.

    Cuba, once again, shows us what stepping outside the box can do. Having a dramatic and successful use of homeopathy during a Leptospirosis episode a few years ago, they built a homeopathic protocol for this health episode and are seeing success again as I understand it. Even many American doctors are taking high dose Vit C and Vit D3 for themselves for protection and some are beginning to use IV vit C with success. China has been doing this almost from the beginning along with other tactics.

    We know that nutrition is the biggest source of protection but we hear narry a word via the mainstream media, only wash your hands and stay home and go nuts, the last being my filling in their blanks.

    One simple thing to tell the public is that getting rid of sugar and processed foods would do much to improve their immunity. Of course people in Harlem and other Black/Latinx and poor communities do not have big supermarkets with lots of fresh food replenished several times a week. Those folks are treated to selections of packaged/processed foods –all junk and disease making.

    So this epidemic may need to be seen as a genocidal event by the 1% which is still making them new levels of profit. Of course this post is not addressing the total distraction of this health bruhaha that minimizes the voter repression, the cutting back of Social Services like Medicaid and Social Security, now suffering a head on assault in the $2 Trillion bailout with not a single word by the Centrist Dems against this and certainly not from Joe Biden who has supported every GOP wish list for decades including cutting back Social Security.

    I am pretty livid at what is going on and blame the US at the top of the list for actively promoting it for totally undemocratic, anti-Constitutional reasons. Wish others would take a strong position on this and stop falling for the fear mongering.


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