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Fighting To Breathe: Stories of Covid-19

Newest video in Covid-19 series explores Covid and inequality in America

Dr. Khadijah Lang, president of the Golden State Medical Association, stands in front of a mural of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Los Angeles. (Direct Relief)
Dr. Khadijah Lang, president of the Golden State Medical Association, stands in front of a mural of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Los Angeles. (Direct Relief)

One in 800 Black Americans has died during this pandemic, compared to 1 in 1,325 white Americans and 1 in 1,925 Asian Americans, according to APM Research Lab. Black Americans are also three times more likely than white Americans to become infected.

The toll on minority communities, especially among Black, Latino, and Native Americans, as well as economically disadvantaged communities, has been disproportionate, and reflects health inequities that existed prior to Covid-19.

In response, Direct Relief has provided more than $43 million in grants and 1,150 tons of requested medical resources since the pandemic began to nonprofit health centers and clinics in medically underserved communities throughout the U.S.

Direct Relief’s latest video in the Covid-19 series goes past the numbers and shares the stories of people who have dealt with the virus firsthand — while simultaneously trying to fight discrimination on various fronts. Helping them through the struggle were doctors and other health care providers from community health centers, a network of safety net health care facilities in the U.S. that treat everyone who comes through their doors, regardless of ability to pay.

Kiya Johnson, a cosmetologist, was forced to self-treat initially, after staff at a local hospital told her not to come. Johnson said she took as much flu medicine as she could in order to cope with the symptoms by herself at home.

Derek White lost his father to the virus after he was admitted to a hospital, but was not treated for Covid-19. His mother was also admitted, but he and his family decided to get her out, opting to seek treatment with her primary care doctor instead.

Physicians and community health center executive leaders Dr. Derrick Butler of the To Help Everyone Clinic and Dr. Khadijah Lang of the Western Women’s Medical Clinic (and president of the Golden State Medical Association) spoke about how these stories represent the inequities within the U.S. health care system — and how they are working to bring better outcomes to their communities.

“All we want is equality, and we’ve been screaming that for decades,” White said.

The video was directed by Emmy-nominated editor Olly Riley-Smith, whose previous video in the series was a finalist for Best Storytelling in this year’s Shorty Awards.

For more on Direct Relief’s work to improve health equity in the U.S., click here

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